Interesting post by Harold Jarche on Transparency. When reading it, I was thinking on the conference at the Hochschule St. Gallen, where a workgroup created the sentence, that the Internet (and Social Media) are the biggest transparency machine of the world. This was meant in a very positive mood and sense and was clearly going into the direction, Harold is heading for an Company-internal usage of Social tools in a Transparent Workplace:
Transparent work is the one of biggest opportunities we have in creating more effective organizations but it seems to be a major barrier in any hierarchy. The owners didn’t want a transparent workflow to show they were the cause of the problem. Too often, the leadership IS the problem. Whether they like it or not, these types of owners/managers had better adapt. More and more, workers know where the problems are because they have access to the data. They can see alternatives and find solutions blindingly fast on the web. The hard reality for business leaders is that in an inter-connected world, we need less management, not more.
In a transparent workplace, the role of management is to give workers a job worth doing, the tools to do it, recognition of a job well done and then let them manage themselves. Working smarter means using social media tools, which are inherently designed for transparency, and doing something worthwhile. Social media are the equivalent of an industrial factory for each worker. Today, every worker has the ability to get a message out to the world in the blink of an eye. Workers can also connect to massive amounts of information.
Some months later I wrote a posting on (internal) social networks becoming the employee directory or corporate telephone list if the future. Most of the comments were extremely positive. Only on XING I got a comment (and some replies), that this would cause to much control through making every work, every individuable activity transparent and measurable. The author asked, where the protection of the workforce, of the individual employee remains. Would this be given up for complete transparency, loss of data privacy, total control of every individual? Would such a system apply to the German Work Regulations and Laws? What would the Workers Council say about it?
People outside of Germany tend to smile about the German Workers laws and regulation. I recommend to have a bit more balanced view on it. These laws have and had value in protecting workers. They were quite often in the near past „over-used“ and were sometime even seen as a competitive disadvantage for the „Standort“ Germany. I personally do believe in Transparency while a certain Social Protection absolutely needs to be maintained. I only want to recommend here, that it might not only be the Leadership trying to stop transparency. You need to get your workers (and yours workers council) in the boat to be successful.