I see that people in India have started demanding transparency at their home, work and social life. To me transparency is something like overhead projectors. It consisted of a cellophane sheets (also called transparencies) put on a special box of light, which would be projected onto a screen at the front of the room. These made words and diagrams visible. It’s good and lets you see. In present situation transparency is a buzzword for goodness. When things don’t work, people say ‘this could have worked if the system was transparent.” For example, if we can see what the Prime Minister is thinking, or what actual profits made by a company, its a feel that an employee will understand why they’re being asked to do whatever they’re doing. In other way I can say that transparency means clarity – giving access to bank ATM password. The challenge with this kind of clarity is, the more exposed the inner workings of things are, the more complex they seem. It can be a great shock at times, a feeling of moving away from the job, despite what they say. This can be disruptive if not done carefully, or if you’re dealing with people who can’t handle much truth. Ask a chemist what’s inside a molecule, and very quickly most people realize they would really rather not know, because of the complex system.
We have a tendency of not accepting difficult realities, for example, What happens if an employee see flaws in the CEO’s thinking or decision making? Is it acceptable for an employee to ask questions? Will those in authority accept them respectfully? Perhaps many a times this doesn’t happen. If not, the transparency offered is one way, which has limited value. For example, if my plan is to do something stupid, say to charge a burger for INR 500, one way transparencies with my employee won’t improve anything. If the Indian market demands for lesser price with slight modification in quantity or size, yet I insist on betting the company on them, the transparency of my plan has little effect on the quality of the business.
The transparency should help to achieve better thinking, but this doesn’t happen because of the transparency itself. The thinking can be better if the leaders listen to the feedback, changing their plans to incorporate better ideas. The authorities are expected to behave graciously when criticized, and reward people who provide good ideas, with only true reward – improving the plan.
I have personal seen and felt at times during marketing or sales, transparency is more fabricated. We see many salesman never say certain things, even they are true. I have never seen till date an advertisement claiming this product is not as good as our competitors. I was asked list of competitors and how we are better than them? I did mention the list of competitors and I projected our strengths and set a expectation about our training program. At times I did recommend other organisations to look for the training program, as I felt this is not our domain expertise. Because consumer’s are wise they know this. I know there are things salesman will never say. And in all communication there are unsaid and fundamental limits to how transparent the message can be.
I leave this article with a question, Is it good to have transparency? Stay tuned to know if not transparency, what else can be important?