Reflecting on my post and the ensuing in-depth discussion
Fostering involvement and buy-in – what the cat taught me
The very act of us discussing the very topic of transparency is transparency at work! Isn’t it ironic.
If I were a more conventional business, I would not be engaging in this discussion. And certainly not in public and with someone who could become a potential customer (ie someone I have to impress at all costs). Discussion this would threaten my need to maintain an “I know best” perception. I would not have a blog as that would mean I risk exposing my humanity, my fallibility, and God-forbid show some emotions and passion. I may *gasp* accidentally reveal my true nature, my true values.
A blog is a public forum, open for all to see. A blog is informal, genuine, and personal. I debated over posting this piece on the authenticity of the Catholic Church because I thought it would be too personal and less relevant to the business-related stuff I talk about here. As my friend Stilgherrian wisely said “All views are personal views … If [your] blog represents your daily thoughts of how authenticity, transparency etc affect our lives, why is this issue any different?”
More and more companies are blogging, engaging in a never-before-seen level of transparent dialogue with their customers. Customers are invited to look inside these businesses, inside the thoughts and conversations going on right now in those organisations. Complaints and compliments flow directly and immediately. Businesses are stepping up and being transparently accountable for their actions, their successes and their failures.
Ideas and insights flow freely. People feel engaged, heard and valued. Customers like that. So do the people inside these businesses.
Contrast this with the fear-driven, cover our backsides, everything IS perfect conventional business world. These businesses will never get the idea of a blog. They are too fearful. They will have nothing real to say because everything is perfect, everything they do is right, and everything they say is the divine word. Little wonder that none of the big banks in Australia run blogs.
In conventional business practice, it is far safer to remain faceless. I could remember when I started out on my own 10 years ago. Many well-intended advice were along the lines of how to come across as a big business – get a PO Box address, or a box in a big city building, use a virtual PA service, etc.
My customers have always known I tend to operate as a single individual, That there is no big office with teams of people. Attempting to project otherwise will be akin to someone who weights 55kg describing themselves as “cuddly” on their personals ad.
This blog would not exist if I did not believe in the value of authentic engagement and transparency. Instead, all that would exist would be a single page telling you how right and perfect I am (and that I am a BIG corporation).