In recent years, many organizations have made significant investments in training and technology to evolve into a transparent enterprise. And while it is hard to imagine any organization concluding that their attempt was a total failure or a misguided effort, many are nevertheless asking themselves the same thing: “what are we doing wrong?”
The story behind this unwelcome and unexpected inquiry is that, despite their commendable efforts, many organizations have found that the transparency is not living up to expectations. That is, they are not significantly improving performance, quality, productivity or customer satisfaction levels. Ironically, some organizations have even found their newfound sense of transparency to be problematic, since it has revealed previously hidden issues that, suddenly, need to be resolved, or at the very least explained.
The culprit here, of course, is not transparency itself – which is still as valuable and vital as it has ever been; if not even moreso, as customers increasingly want it, employees increasingly expect it, and marketplaces increasingly demand it. Rather, the root cause is that transparency is one big piece of an even bigger puzzle. It is the existence and quality of a second piece that determines whether the drive towards transparency is rewarding or regrettable: visibility.
If transparency is a promise that organizations will be more democratic, open, honest and fair – that is, standards rather than circumstances will dictate attitudes and actions – then visibility is the means to fulfill that promise.
This is because it is with and through visibility that organizations can ensure the following characteristics define their transparent enterprise at all times, and at all levels:
- A democratic and flat leadership approach guided by “sense and respond” instead of “command and control.”
- Purposeful in-context collaboration among all required internal and external stakeholders (i.e. no silos or disconnected “islands of activity”).
- Executives, project managers and team members empowered with access to relevant information in real-time, so they can review and remedy off-track efforts, and effectively allocate resources against ever-changing demand.
- Optimized, agile workflows that simplify tasks and streamline communications.
- A demonstrated understanding that the fastest way to move work along its journey is by surrounding tasks, items and activities with relevant conversations and insights.
- Constant innovation that leverages all available knowledge capital to improve process, product and customer satisfaction.
The bottom line is that the transparent enterprise is not an abstract concept that is inspiring to read, talk and think about, yet cannot really exist in the rigorous, practical day-to-day reality of organizational life. On the contrary, it is practical, productive and progressive – but only when it is connected to and driven by visibility.
When this happens, organizations get the 360-degree perspective they need to fix old lingering problems, achieve new extraordinary goals, and fulfill the promise of being a truly transparent enterprise.
For more information about how Planview AdaptiveWork can enable transparency and visibility in your enterprise, take a product tour.