Sunday, December 03, 2006

Curious about Transparency: What Does It Mean to You? Are You and Your Life/Business Transparent?

It doesn't bother me to talk about my private life, it doesn't bother me to talk about anything. My life is like a glass of water, transparent.” - Shakira, musician

My whole life I've been an advocate for open records - transparency in government - because I think it brings with it greater accountability.” - Roy Barnes, politician

And, accountability helps establish trust.

I chose “Transparency” for this week’s topic, because on Friday I started listening to Stephen M. R. Covey’s audio of his book, “Speed of Trust.” In this eye-opening program, Covey talks about the behaviors that engender trust - one of those being transparency. We need to be open and honest and walk our talk.

On the Speed of Trust website I found the following statement that is at the core of Covey’s thesis: “Our definition of TRUST is simple: It is both character (who you are) and competence (your strengths and the results you produce). Trust is the enabling power of leadership influence. It is not soft, slow, risky, or easy. It is a measurable, definable component of all leadership success. It can be both taught and learned.”

With some further searching, I discovered the Transparency website that is described as follows: “...a web site that tries to make things clear. Transparency is based on the idea that all media, politics, and popular culture - and ultimately all aspects of personality - can be opened up to our view and understanding. The site interprets and critiques movies and television, news and political rhetoric, theme parks and advertising, computer games and the Internet, and other creations of contemporary culture.”

And, because all of this made me curious about trust and transparency, I evaluated my feelings and actions. I feel that I am transparent when it comes to what I share with others about my life and business. I also list trust, honesty and integrity high in my list of values. How about you?

Have you ever met someone - it could be a presenter, trainer and or company leader - who you feel is hiding something? Is not being authentic? This is someone we would not trust.

The quotations I found - although not as plentiful as usual - are quite interesting and thought provoking:
  • Society is becoming less and less transparent. People no longer know where decisions that substantially affect their lives are taken, nor by whom, nor how.” - Georg Henrik von Wright, philosopher
  • What I'm thinking about more and more these days is simply the importance of transparency, and Jefferson's saying that he'd rather have a free press without a government than a government without a free press.” - Esther Dyson, scientist
  • I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.” - Simone de Beauvoir, writer
  • It doesn't matter how high you lift your leg. The technique is about transparency, simplicity, making an earnest attempt.” - Mikhail Baryshnikov, dancer

Of course, I found several good quotations by politicians:

  • To restore and keep the public's confidence in the integrity of their government, state government and its officials must be open, honest and transparent.” - John Lynch, politician
  • If we want to truly regain the public's trust, we can provide greater accountability and transparency with a simple step. Let's start by communicating to our constituents about the votes we take.” - Melissa Bean, politician
  • This is a time for leadership and judgment that is not compromised in any fashion. This is a time for transparency and a thorough investigation.” - Cynthia McKinney, politician
  • We should insist that governments receiving American aid live up to standards of accountability and transparency, and we should support countries that embrace market reforms, democracy, and the rule of law.” - Lee H. Hamilton, politician

Some quotations with a different approach and twist:

  • You don't have these perfectly transparent, simple thoughts. You have thoughts that are all cluttered up, like overused bookshelves.” - Rick Moody, novelist
  • What passes for woman's intuition is often nothing more than man's transparency.” - George Jean Nathan, editor
  • There's no sense talking about priorities. Priorities reveal themselves. We're all transparent against the face of the clock.” - Eric Zorn, writer
  • I don't think the rules have kept up on capital markets, I don't think the rules have kept up in terms of transparency in the international scene, and I don't think the rules have kept up on trade.” - James Wolfensohn, businessman

And, a couple to consider and chew upon during the upcoming week:

  • A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., judge
  • But what I hope for from a book - either one that I write or one that I read - is transparency. I want the story to shine through. I don't want to think of the writer.” - Anne Tyler, novelist

Isn’t Anne Tyler’s hope for a book, what we also hope for from a person and/or company - the truth and light to shine through?