Three Reasons for Radical Transparency and a Rough Guide to Implementation

Radical transparency is the hottest new management approach in business and government. It has become possible because of open data standards, search, discovery, filtering, and visualization. However, why would you want go “naked” or radically transparent?

1. Transparency increases legitimacy. Because transparency is possible, it is expected, so there will be punishment for non-transparent ventures.
2. Transparency allows us to improve our processes. Following Linus’ Law “with enough eyeballs all bugs are shallow.”
3. Transparency allows us to outsource parts of the process to interested third parties. They can build on our data and co-produce. Radical transparency saves us money.

So you are convinced of the approach. Here is the rough guide to implementation:

1. Define what data you will free. Explain the limitations explicitly, outline the next steps to full transparency.
2. Make sure you make all data available in machine-readable format, ideally in real-time. Do not massage or edit it!
3. Do not define who will be able to access your data, let your collaborators self-select.
4. Define standards for participation, do this in code and convention.
5. Do not ask open questions like “what do you think of Europe? How do we integrate minorities?” Structure the conversation, define expectations, but allow for flexibility and participation in the debate about the core principles of the collaboration.
6. Design reflexivity into the process. Use work flow mapping and meta-data on the deliberation processes to mirror the community back at its members. Sophistication will increase.

This posting is based on my teaching notes from this week’s strategic management lecture at the Erfurt School of Public Policy, Beth Noveck’s WikiGovernment, and the brilliant insights of my colleagues at PepsiCo. It is a work in progress, so please comment!

About Philipp

Philipp Müller works in the IT industry and is academic dean of the SMBS. Author of “Machiavelli.net”. Proud father of three amazing children. The views expressed in this blog are his own.

19. June 2009 by Philipp
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