This episode continues the discussion of the principle of “transparency”. In episode 8 we determined that transparency can help our businesses in four ways:
1.Transparency is becoming more important to everybody.
2. Transparency promotes trust. (No repeat customers without trust)
3. It helps everybody involved in your business feel important to the success of your enterprise. You let them know at different phases of your growth, how you are doing and they can see ways to help you.
4. Public knowledge of your Purpose and Values is an act of tranparency. Your Purpose and Values attract a base of customers who share or believe in the same Purpose and Values that you believe in.
I talked about Buffer as an excellent study in transparency. I want to share 2 more contemporary businesses practicing this principle in their operations.
“Currently, Whole Foods is working on becoming the first national grocery chain to offer full GMO transparency with its products. They’re trying to identify any products containing genetically modified organisms and they want to keep them off their shelves. By this year, they will require every product sold as non-GMO to go through a verification process. The company has always encouraged anybody supplying products to them to put the items through a verification process, as well. Whole Foods hopes that by making this commitment to GMO transparency, it will encourage industry-wide transparency, with manufacturers and distributors asking the questions that need to be asked” Quoted from
This dedication to transparency by Whole Foods lets you know how serious they are about avoiding GMO’s in products they sell. Why do they do this? Key Point: Full transparency in this area is important to their customer base. This is the primary reason any business would want to practice this principle.
There is one more contemporary business succeeding through transparency I want to share.
Patagonia a clothing supplier is known for supply chain transparency. Richman reported, ”For outerwear company Patagonia, providing transparency throughout its supply chain means reducing any negative social and environmental impacts the company might have. Many companies have been caught off guard by information about the social and environmentally-unfriendly habits of its manufacturers or distributors. To avoid this,
Patagonia takes a proactive approach, taking the responsibility on itself to make sure no harm is being caused in the making of its products. The project is called “Footprint Chronicles” and they display it to the general public through videos on the company’s website. Check it out, it’s good. The videos show each step of the supply chain, including all textile mills and sewing factories used in creating the item.” Richman
You’ll have to admit, this is real dedication to transparency around Patagonia’s commitment to social and environmental safety. Many customers are drawn to their business simply because of this commitment.
You can see how transparency can be a positive force for your business building efforts. It helps you clarify what you are doing. It also helps you simplify your Systems and processes so they can be communicated to others more effectively and efficiently. Transparency helps you get valuable input about ways to improve your business and keep it ahead in your industry. The big advantage is..It helps you promote trust with your customers. You may now be wondering: when is transparency NOT appropriate?
Santiago Iniguez describes what we should do: He reiterated.. “Ethan Bernstein’s article “The Transparency Trap” convincingly argues that complete transparency is not advisable, at least in three areas of a company’s activities.” These areas include innovation, experimentation, developmental processes and I have added, distribution specifics. The niche you have in your industrsy must be protected. Sharing the all processes that make you unique are not an option.
Iniguez further suggests:
– Business transparency is a matter of degree. You determine how much should be shared according to its usefulness. Internally, only the people involved or affected by the procedure or information should be involved. Publicly, only the information that can breed trust in your company should be shared. Examples: Whole
Foods GMO policy or Patagonias’ supply chain transparency. They share a level of transparency that draws certain groups of customers.
– Establish a balance between transparency and privacy, “both in relation to the workforce’s activities and individual and collective information. We live in a world where access to information about businesses and people, true and false, is universal and immediate. In such an environment, leaders can feel that they are permanently onstage.” Iniguez As we build our businesses ,we need to use whatever processes available to always respect people’s personal space.”
–Be authentic with your transparency. “What counts in the final analysis is that when necessary the people running a company can reasonably justify their decisions,” This relates strongly to the Integrity of your business. Trust among customers, employees and other affiliates is greatly enhanced with a reasonable level of transparency.
Finally, here’s an interesting guide for how to build a reputation of business transparency from Chelsea Segal
“As you go about marketing your product to the general public, think about what values you expect your customers to have. Do you want them to care about speed and efficiency? About earning money? About doing good in the world? Whatever matters most to your customers, find a way to emphasize the way your brand delivers it. Then be as transparent as possible about specifically how you do it.. You’ll be amazed at the difference that one simple change can make.”
So, the idea is to get input from your customers for guidance on what should be transparent. A Super idea!
Business transparency is a state-of-the-art practice that can seriously enhance your business building process. So, carefully consider transparency as a Value for your growing twenty-first century enterprise.
More business success essentials in: “20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”
Easily accessible Business Building guides here: The GeniusCore Business Building Podcast