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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Non-transparency is better than pseudo-transparency

My mother always told me that the one thing she hated was a liar. She
isn't always comfortable with bluntness, because she doesn't like to
hurt anybody's feelings. But lying for her is a cardinal sin. (As is
racism.)

As an adult I have internalized my mother's values. They are mirrored
by my larger family on all sides, and I am drawn to friends and
colleagues who simply "tell it like it is," even if it hurts and even
if I disagree.

So I naturally embrace the modern buzzword of "transparency." But with
experience I have learned that just because you use the word, that
doesn't mean you actually live in a glass house. Rather, you choose
wisely what to share and set boundaries around the rest. In today's
social media environment however, the difference from the past is that
you share by default and restrict as needed, rather than the other way
around. (Heard that from social media expert Shel Holtz.)

Yet I have the disturbing sense that a lot of what is passing as
transparency, in whatever sector of discourse, is really
pseudo-transparency. Misleading. And the tipoff for me is when I can't
understand in simple terms what is being explained to me.

Good example is the half an hour of torture I experienced yesterday
going over my "transparent" cellphone bill with my service provider.

Another is the incredible obscurantism around the state of the oil spill.

We can all think of examples.

Bottom line is, if you can't tell me the truth, I would rather be told
the following:

1. I can't tell you. Here is why (followed by logical answer.)

2. I will tell you later on, but not now (followed by timeframe and
follow through.)

3. Here is what I can tell you.

4. If you don't believe me that I can't tell you, here is your
recourse including a link to an objective third party that oversees
me, rates me, etc.

5. Here are some information resources that can help (meaningful please.)

In general my view is that non-transparency is better than
pseudo-transparency, because at least it avoids the lying factor that
destroys stakeholders' trust.

Posted via email from Think Brand First