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Why transparency is the most important business value

Why transparency is the most important business value

A few years ago I did a Scrum Master certification. Besides the obvious benefits of being able to support the Scrum framework, it has also had a strong impact on my business relationships. In order to see how, we need to have a quick look at one of the core ideas of Scrum.

The three Scrum Pillars

In the Scrum Guide, the three scrum pillars are defined as:

  • Transparency
  • Inspection
  • Adaptation

In a nutshell, this basic concept of agile methodology states that a team should regularly inspect itself and what it is working on, in order to make sure it is delivering the highest possible value in the most efficient manner. Without transparency, no inspection or adaptation are possible.

Working within the Scrum framework, team members openly share information in daily stand ups, during retrospectives, on a Kanban board etc. If all the information available is not transparent to everyone, individuals on the team cannot see the big picture and make the best informed decision. Pretty simple right?

An office hallway turned into a massive Kanban board

Information hoarding

For too many years, I have worked in organizations where information was hoarded, often as a means to cement ones position. The opposite is actually true: if you share information that enables someone to do something great, you have supported their creative process and made yourself a more valuable team member.

These days, work culture is rapidly shifting and keeping coworkers in the dark and not trusting your partners and clients, is a sure way to lower your joint potential. It also results in a loss of solidarity, focus and commitment. From a Human Resources perspective, you are simply not making the most of the knowledge and resources in your organization.

Lightbulb surrounded by ideas

Knowledge is empowering

Knowledge is empowering and individuals come up with different ideas based on the same information. Since I have adapted a "share everything" attitude, I have seen a clear shift in my dealings with my colleagues, clients and business partners. (Of course there are limits to what one can share with whom, but this just requires common sense > see the disclaimer at the bottom of this post.)

One of my biggest recent learnings, is that when you treat people with trust and openly share your ideas, personality and beliefs, something magical happens. You much more easily start to interact with each other as human beings, rather than only as representatives of organizations.

Truth, honesty and openness

Offering a respectful exchange based on truth, honesty and openness almost always has the effect that the person you are speaking with, feels it is OK to act in the same manner. A wonderful trait of being empathic beings, is that we are naturally programmed to adapt ourselves to what we sense coming in.

These days, to interact with individuals that are still driven by an ingrained corporate agenda bores me and is quite off-putting. Once you get used to your interactions being based on trust and a more open mutual exchange, you will never go back, except for those situations where there is no other option. Luckily, these are becoming increasingly rare.

Where to start

In your next pitch, cold call or meeting, try giving your counterpart the benefit of the doubt and openly be yourself and be a little more transparent than you would normally be. It can be the start of a fantastic transformation process in your business relationships, that is well worth the effort and initially perceived risk.

Stylized photo of a standup meeting

Twofold value

Interacting with your co-workers, clients and partners based on openness and trust, is in itself more than enough to be worth your while. However as if this weren't enough, I've noticed that the business relationships which I have built on these principles, are more valuable and productive than many in my past.

It is as if by being transparent, we empathically invite others to join us on our journey through (work-) life on a more personal level. I naturally care more about agreed strategies or the reaching of mutual goals and it is my experience that this feeling is often mutual. In short, transparency often facilitates a win-win situation from both an ethical and a business perspective.

Disclaimer: Not everyone you come across will be able to handle this way of interacting and some may use information against you. If you listen carefully and sense your counterparts attitude, you will quickly get a feeling for who will be able to join you in a more open exchange, and where you will need to be more reserved. Always use your common sense and discretion and never share proprietary or confidential information under any circumstances. Transparency should never come at the cost of one's integrity.

Title Photo by Pahala Basuki on Unsplash
Lightbulb Photo by Free Images on flick
Standup meeting photo by Ken Whytock on flickr


Erik Heirman

Erik Heirman

I believe technology should be at the service of society. I trust in agile methodology & principles, client centric innovation and design thinking.

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