Eco-Advantage Blog

April 10, 2007 | Andrew Winston | Jump to: Comments (0) | Post A Comment

"Radical Transparency"

A recent Wired magazine cover declared that we’re all “naked”: almost nothing is hidden from view anymore. They use the examples of CEOs and other employees blogging from within companies and they use the fantastic phrase to describe this new trend, “radical transparency.” I couldn’t agree more: the signs are everywhere…

Examples from recent history of the larger trend:

Politics: Former Senator George Allen and the “macaca-gate” video which sunk his campaign (and handed the Senate to the Democrats)

News: The shocking video, within 24 hours, of Saddam Hussein’s hanging

Entertainment: YouTube segment from the set of the Dustin Hoffman movie I [heart] Huckabees showing the director screaming a stream of profanities at co-star Lily Tomlin (see it here, but beware of this R-rated clip…)

Business examples:

• BP and its Texas Oil Refinery explosion of 2005. All documents on the operation of the business, including internal memos and videos of depositions describing what lead to the accident that killed 15 people are available online. A legal settlement put millions of documents into the public record

• Microsoft’s software developers taking videos around the office and writing about products in the works, topics that were once highly confidential.

• The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an agreement for oil and gas companies to disclose exactly what they pay every government in the world — an attempt to shine a light on money flows that drive corruption.

The bottom line is that everything you do, say, write, email, or instant message may become available to everyone in the world. And with the rise of MySpace and other extreme sharing sites, the next generation of employees and customers doesn’t trust you if you don’t tell all. It’s fairly nerve-wracking, even for those not doing anything wrong — sort of like when you drive by a police car and you get nervous for no reason. Companies now must “do the right thing” and act in the best interests of their employees, communities, and the planet. The whole world is watching.



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