Transparency is hard and it's scary. I'm having trouble getting comfortable with it myself. We tend to think of a distopian 1984 situation with government oversight and big brother watching. This is not the case at all. That's a closed network with information only flowing in one direction. Very scary, Yes. Transparent, no. Consider what happens as you open up the network and have information flowing in both directions, all the time. That's what happens with True Transparency.
What does it mean to have true transparency?
We need to develop a common language around this topic for private companies and startups . First let's define the different types of transparency. Dan Kador (@dkador) from Keen IO identifies a couple different types of transparency.
"the kind that’s forced upon the entity that’s trying to keep secrets. Whistleblowers are the most obvious example here. Most of us who can remember a time before the internet existed look favorably on these folks. Snowden’s a perfect example of this. Similarly, Wikileaks revealed some uncomfortable truths (despite whatever we might think about Assange). Alayne Fleischmann has a lot to say about our broken financial systems. These three forced the NSA, the U.S. Government, and Chase, respectively, to publicize (some of) their secrets."
"the kind that’s freely shared. There’s a ton of that out there right now. It’s especially prevalent in the startup world. Companies writing about their plans for the newly raised round of capital. Companies writing about how they run their businesses. Hell, even companies running with completely open books."
“something that leaves you feeling vulnerable”
This may seem like an oxymoron but, it's very important to frame the conversation. There's an implied value around transparency that all the pertinent information is being shared. This also creates an implied context around the data. If this is not the case it's important to define the areas that are not being revealed. Every organization has exclusionary policies. These range from salaries to hiring and firing, research and development to product launches. This helps build the full context around the topic by defining what you don't know.