Ode to Transparency … and Shel Holtz

Shel Holtz was nice enough to write-up our Novell win, including his analysis of the benefits of corporate transparency. I loved this line, in particular:

"A closed approach caused analysts to wonder what the heck Novell was thinking, leading to a lowered valuation and the CEO’s departure. Now striving for transparency, the company sees opportunities for ‘engagement with the market — both media and the broader universe of Novell watchers…’"

I am absolutely convinced that "transparency" is the #1 most positive ideal to rise from the Social Media era. Not because I believe in any "absurd notion that transparency means something like ‘no secrets of any kind, ever, under any circumstances.’" (Shel’s well-chosen words), but because "transparency" speaks to a belief in fairness, and to the wisdom of crowds.

For example, if a blogger complains about how XO Communications and Verizon completely screwed up Internet connectivity for an entire suburb of Boston, it’s incumbent on those vendors to decide whether to monitor for these voices, and to respond if they feel it is in their best interest.

In an ideal world, these vendors would see the blogger’s post and draft a quick, apologetic, explanatory note that they could post on their own site; in the Comments section of this blogger’s site; and that of any other online complainants. If they did that, they might earn kudos and credit for their transparency.

If they didn’t do that (and they didn’t), the "crowds" of the blogosphere might pick up the cause and create a messy hubbub. Or, not. That’s up to the crowd: in its wisdom, it might decide other matters were more important (and they are).

The point is: companies that commit themselves to listening intently and responding honestly will win the hearts of their stakeholders. And when they do screw up, if they keep true to their principles of transparency (don’t clam up!), there will be enough brownie-points in the blogosphere to help them coast through it more quickly.

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Posted on: September 6, 2006 at 2:00 pm By Todd Defren
7 Responses to “Ode to Transparency … and Shel Holtz”

 

Comments
  • Kami Huyse says:

    You make a very good point, I have been working on this very issue with one of my clients and it hasn’t been easy to come up with a solution. We need to come up with some basic guidelines about this, especially since it is indeed “hard to scale.”

  • Todd Defren says:

    Thanks, all, for your comments (and kindness).

    I saw your posts, Jennifer and Mike – good stuff.

    Agreed to all that “transparency” is also about “listening.” Whether the client decides to *show* that they are listening is the challenge.

    You can listen to all of the people all of the time, but to RESPOND to all of the people, all of the time, is hard to scale.

  • The Age of Transparency

    Or, rather, this is the dawning of the Age of Transparency, the Age of Transparency . . . Transparencyyyyyyy . . . . Transpaarreeeencyyyyyy. Come on sing along . . . . Sorry, I got sidetracked. Todd Defren’s post about…

  • The Age of Transparency

    Or, rather, this is the dawning of the Age of Transparency, the Age of Transparency . . . Transparencyyyyyyy . . . . Transpaarreeeencyyyyyy. Come on sing along . . . . Sorry, I got sidetracked. Todd Defren’s post about…

  • Kami Huyse says:

    I think just letting people know you are listening makes a big difference. I know that responsivenss will win the day and knowing you and your firm, I am sure that is why you are winning business left, right and center.

  • Todd: Definitely congrats on working with Novell! I’m sure it’ll be fun.

    As you indicated, transparency “is the #1 most positive ideal to rise from the Social Media era.”

    Transparency — I’d say honesty — whether it is intentional or unintentional is becoming much more accepted and a way of doing business. If a company or individual is not being honest, it/she/he will be uncovered, eventually.

    It’ll make a clearer distinction between those who already do business right, and those who do not.

    I’ve been toying with a post on that topic, and I think you’ve pushed me over the edge. Thanks!
    Mike

  • First of all, congrats on the Novell win!

    Second, great summary of Shel’s insightul post. Transparency is something we always try to stress to our own clients–especially in the sense that transparency does not mean they have to fully disclose trade secrets.

    You’ve inspired me to document my own musings on the subject which you can check out here.






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