Unless you're living on a farm in the middle of no-where, you probably know that one of the more common buzz words in today's busy marketing and business world is Transparency. It seems that in the post Enron/Madoff/Domino's Pizza era, more and more company's are realizing that sharing information pertaining to their business processes the better change they have at winning the hearts and minds of their stakeholders. Obviously, this is a result of the technological advances in online sharing and content distribution as well as a growing sense of awareness and responsibility among empowered consumers.
So, with the massive amounts of information available to today and the fact that traditional marketing communication methods are limited in their ability to exclusively control the message, It would seem obvious that marketers and advertisers are trying to re-think and find new ways to share and disclose business methods with their constituents before they do it for them. However, it turns out this isn't as simple as it sounds.
Here are two opposing examples:
A mind-blowing example of how difficult it is to shake of the old habit of "holding your hand close to your chest" is provided by Morgan Spurlock: The greatest TED Talk ever sold. The man behind 'Super-Size Me' and the great TV series "30 Days" as well as other thought provoking documentaries is back with another brilliant film concept in which he exposes advertising's weak spot - Transparency. It's amazing to see the advertising executive's fear and distrust with Spurlock and his innovative concept. After all you could say that he single handedly caused a major earthquake and tsunami to one of the most powerful corporations in the world when he went on a strict diet of McDonald's only products. Yet, when you look at what happened to McDonalds' stock price since the release of "Super Size Me" in 2004 you see that it has only climbed. Today McDonald's is leading the quick service industry into new and healthier products. One could even argue that it was the best thing that could happen to McDonald's as it was a wake up call that caused the company to re-evaluate everything it did from the ground up.
The second example is not as entertaining as Spurlock TED talk but still, it is a very interesting presentation and valuable lesson for companies that are looking to really shake things up and do things differently.
In this video, Tom Hulme of IDEO shares his experience and insights from building one of the more innovative collaboration and design thinking models out there today called OpenIDEO. A collaborative platform harnessing the knowledge of people worldwide who wish to activley contribute to the effort of solving tough problems. It's a joy to see how open and how transparent Tom is regarding the process and it embodies the idea of transparency and how companies need to learn how to give up the need for ultimate control of process and outcome and start engaging consumers and their wisdom to create better, together. My guess is that if Suplock had pitched the people at IDEO he would have gotten a green light to sponsor at least some part of this film.
What do you think? do business and trancparency have a future together?