Missing pieces of transparency

I have been lately thinking a lot about “transparency”. And I realize that transparency in popular belief have some missing pieces.

First missing piece, one cannot be transparent without boundaries. Some NDA, sensitive information that cannot be shared still exist in every organization. Also, every employee need personal area as well. The way to proceed is not to invade these boundaries, but make it transparent and everyone aware that these boundaries are exists and real.

For example, one can say that this is sensitive information. This is transparent. Pretend to have nothing to hide while in fact there are obvious missing pieces is not transparent.

One can say that I do not feel comfortable reporting status every day because of reasons. This is transparent. If one does not push back and resolve to make up his status report, that is not transparent.

Transparency happen when everyone see the same boundaries. We could work on eliminate some unnecessary boundary in the future, but the first step is to see it clear without pretending that boundaries does not exist, or demand to invade boundaries without proper respect.

Second missing piece, we have a lot of confusion between being honest and being transparent. Just because we do not lie and open for any discussion, does not imply we have transparency.

Transparency is also including data accessibility. One can say to CEO that we are so transparent, send the big pile of document and say that you can take a look at our 1000M transaction rows and see everything for yourself.

In this case, one are being honest and open, but the data is too complex to be consumed and digest, hence CEO cannot see clear what is going on.

On the opposite site, manager can say to employee that we are transparent, we have 500 strategy documents exist and open for any employee to see in this folder, come take a look anytime you want.

Again those data would be too complex to be consumed and digest for the employee.

This is just being honest and open, but not transparent.

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