The Expectation of Transparency

Technology and the internet has enabled organizations to be open and transparent at very little expense. Many organizations (including private companies, non-profits, and governments) have embraced this, to varying degrees. Buffer made its financial dashboard public. Wikimedia manages their internal work on public wikis. The White House shares it’s federal employee salary information online.

When organizations are more transparent, they become a bit more vulnerable and feel a little more human. We respond to that in a very human way. If a friend tells me about a frustration they have or a problem they struggle with, a bond is created. In exchange for trusting me with knowledge, I reciprocate with loyalty.

But, organizations can’t earn such loyalty with weak, half-hearted, transparency posturing. We are equipped with the powers to detect insincerity, honed by millions of years of evolutionary tuning.  No, it must be baked into the culture. We respond to organizations that are transparent, honest, imperfect, and genuine.

As openness continue to reap rewards, and more organizations adopt the practice, I predict that the rising generation will begin to expect and demand transparency. Instead of praising the organizations that choose to be transparent, they will question the organizations that don’t.

It used to be enough for governments, non-profits, companies, and churches to just be competent. Increasingly, they need to be human, as well.