Transparency is more often a vision than a reality. This is because transparency is often perceived as creating unacceptable risks to the business. The risk of:
- Not meeting customer expectations,
- Failing to follow regulatory requirements (internal & external),
- Missing the mark on publicly visible benchmarks & standards, – or –
- Mis-allocation of resources………..
…are legitimate risks. Publishing these lagging performance findings in the Globe & Mail would be unwise but can the same be said for internal business technical communications such as reports, meeting notes, action plans, – or – verbal interactions? The answer provided by businesses about whether to distribute information is often not as clear-cut as one would think, and often emphasizes whether or not the business has a plan to resolve the issue described by the information.
When barriers exist to information transparency within a business the employee’s ability to mitigate risks, identify & resolve collateral issues, and give towards system wide improvements is lost. The obviousness of this point is often lost in the information and distribution bottlenecks that otherwise exist in the business environment. Introducing the Transparency Management Canvas –
Information is crucial to business evaluation, planning, and resolution processes and yet is often not widely shared or distributed. This occurs between businesses and external stakeholders as well as internal stakeholders who are affected. Not informing the Ministry that 3,000 hrs/units have not been delivered over the past 10 years may keep everyone safe in the belief that ‘business as usual’ is performing well but it will interfere with the business ability to find, check, and plan for evolving customer/contract/regulatory requirements. The business can become strangled by its current performance as less and less information is distributed (and used) over time.
Businesses clearly need to make a decision how and when information is distributed. Distributing information externally about a 9 month project at the 1st week milestone is not necessarily as useful, or crucial to stakeholders, as information distributed at a 2 month (etc.) milestone. Similarly, information distribution should usually follow a path of internal distribution prior to external distribution to ensure accuracy and relevance.
All information is not created equal neither is it equally useful to stakeholders. The key is ensuring stakeholders have the information they need when they need it so that performance mis-alignment can be readily identified, evaluated, and resolved before it becomes a permanent part of the business’ performance path and culture.
How is your business evaluating when and if to distribute information? Leave your comments below.