Sixteen months ago, I wrote about transparency in relation to Rick Warren’s insistence that his mega best seller, Purpose Driven Life had not used any marketing. It’s success was an act of God. This in light of the attempt by Warren to have all references to PDL removed from Greg Stielstra’s PyroMarketing book – Greg having been the marketing director at Zondervan, publisher’s of Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. (I outline the story here.)
I highlighted this from the Cluetrain Manifesto in the transparency post:
(12) There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.
The net effectively fisked Warren – his statements about the lack of marketing involved in PDL were shown to be false. What shocked me in all of this was Warren’s lack of understanding of the enforced transparency created by the internet and, in particular, the blogosphere.
Yesterday in Fired for Facebook, I commented on how we learned (via the internet) something about our oldest before he could tell us. You can read his response in the comments. (He was waiting for us to see him in Ottawa in a week.) Another example of enforced transparency.
This post was prompted by Wired Editor (and Long Tail author) Chris Anderson’s post, Totally Transparent Transparency – where he talks about Clive Thompson’s upcoming Wired feature, Radical Transparency. From Clive’s site:
Secrecy Is Dead: The pre-Internet world trafficked in secrets. Information was valuable because it was rare; keeping it secret increased its value. In the modern world, information is as plentiful as dirt, there’s more of it than you can possibly grok on your own — and the profusion of cameraphones, forwarded emails, search engines, anonymous tipsters, and infinitely copyable digital documents means that your attempts to keep secrets will probably, eventually, fail anyway. Don’t bother trying. You’ll just look like a jackass when your secrets are leaked and your lies are exposed, kind of like Sony and its rootkit. (emphasis added)
I am shocked at the number of leaders, especially leaders in the church world, who think they live safely behind their self-created walls. They think they can avoid transparency. They can’t. One such “leader” I know, felt if he just ignored the press, he would be fine – he could control the message within the walls of his megachurch. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for those infected by his leadership, his secrets are beginning to be revealed – and I would expect the trickle to turn into a flood in the coming year. (I’m intentionally not linking to this information…for now.)
Whether you’re Benny Hinn, Hugo Chavez, George Bush or me – your secrets will be revealed. You might as well get over it and become transparent…or have that transparency enforced. (Verum Serum’s fisking of watchblogger Ken Silva comes to mind.)
Thompson moves from the fear of transparency to it’s power:
Tap The Hivemind: Throw everything you’ve got online, and invite the world to look at it. They’ll have more and better ideas that you could have on your own, more and better information than you could gather on your own, wiser and sager perspective than you could gather in 1,000 years of living — and they’ll share it with you. You’ll blow past the secret-keepers as if you were driving a car that exists in a world with different and superior physics. Like we said, information used to be rare … but now it’s so ridiculously plentiful that you will never make sense of it on your own. You need help, and you need to help others. And, by the way? Keep in mind that …
Reputation Is Everything: Google isn’t a search engine. Google is a reputation-managment system. What do we search for, anyway? Mostly people, products, ideas — and what we want to know are, what do other people think about this stuff? All this blogging, Flickring, MySpacing, journaling — and, most of all, linking — has transformed the Internet into a world where it’s incredibly easy to figure out what the world thinks about you, your neighbor, the company you work for, or the stuff you were blabbing about four years ago. It might seem paradoxical, but in a situation like that, it’s better to be an active participant in the ongoing conversation than to stand off and refuse to participate. Because, okay, let’s say you don’t want to blog, or to Flickr, or to participate in online discussion threads. That means the next time someone Googles you they’ll find … everything that everyone else has said about you, rather than the stuff you’ve said yourself. (Again — just ask Sony about this one.) The only way to improve and buff your reputation is to dive in and participate. Be open. Be generous. Throw stuff out there — your thoughts, your ideas, your personality. Trust comes from transparency.
Let me repeat that, Trust comes from transparency.