Over the last few years, enterprises in general have been moving towards greater transparency. However, despite taking important and in some cases impressive steps forward, many of these enterprises continue to face obstacles that limit their gains.
These obstacles are rooted in the fact that many enterprises are still talking about transparency, rather than exercising transparency. What is the difference? Enterprises that activate transparency are obligated to continuously "push" transparency into their activities, functions, processes and policies — because they know if they stop, then eventually so does the transparency. In a way, we could say that applied transparency is the kind that enterprises can rent, but never own.
However, enterprises that activate transparency do not face this ongoing effort and resource-intensive obligation. This is because transparency is embedded into the fabric of their culture. They own it. As such, they unleash transparency from within to qualitatively and quantitatively improve employee engagement, workflow management, communication and collaboration, customer support and development, program and project governance, and the list goes on.
Until now, only a few laudable enterprises have gone beyond applying transparency and are instead activating it. But in 2015, we expect this number of to surge, as more and more enterprises seek to embrace and express three characteristics that signify — and separate — truly transparent enterprises from the rest:
– Democratic Information Sharing
Rather than confining key information (e.g. organizational goals, performance metrics, resource utilization plans, etc.) to a small circle of executives, transparent enterprises are marked by democratic information sharing. As such, they drive participation and engagement at all levels, and wisely leverage 100% of their knowledge capital to make better decisions.
– Aligned Input and Impact
Instead of directing employees to perform tasks and then shielding them — either by design or default — from the effects of their efforts, transparent enterprises let employees see how their contribution fits the bigger picture. Why? Because they grasp that aligning input with impact is the smartest way to drive employee investment, which is not just the basis for growth: on a competitive landscape where talent is often more valuable the capital, it is critical for survival.
– Organic Innovation
Transparent enterprises do not restrict innovation to the context of product, service or process development. Rather, much like transparency itself, they view innovation organically as well as functionally. To that end, they empower employees at all levels to innovate how the enterprise sells, markets, supports, develops, communicates and generates feedback.
Evolving into a Transparent Enterprise
Evolving into a transparent enterprise requires knowledge and insight to make the right technology investments, along with vision and commitment to make fundamental changes to organizational structure: from one that is hierarchical and centralized, to one that is flatter and more democratic.
And while there may be some growing pains associated with this shift, the effort is doubtlessly worthwhile and increasingly necessary. Indeed, the way things are trending, by the time 2015 winds down we expect that transparent enterprises will be the expected norm — instead of the laudable exception.