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Planning for Transparency

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Note: This is part two in a three-part series about improving transparency.

Upon arrival, security issues you a plastic card with your photo and a bar code. You enter through the main double doors and wait for the click of the door so you can enter. After about an hour, you decide it is time to find a cup of coffee but you aren’t sure where it might be. You grab your new card and begin searching. Some doors are opened with your card but you quickly learn that your card does not allow you on the top floor of the building or in some restricted areas. That’s because security had clear protocols about the access you were entitled to when they made your card.

As discussed in The Murky World of Transparency, transparency doesn’t just mean honestly or a lack of corruption. Transparency is a strategy for building trust between an organization and its stakeholders by forfeiting secrecy in exchange for proactive self-accountability and timely and appropriate communications. If you want to plan for transparency, you must address two issues: access and communications (part 3 in series).

Making the determination over who has access to what and when is actually not that complicated as long as you remember to always identify the benefits and potential consequences of granting access in advance. Here are three elements planning must include:


You are not transparent in a meaningful way if you are not consistent with who you are transparent to. That means that granting access on an individual basis rather than stakeholder groups or subgroups is just playing favorites. So, you need a policy – a deliberate and clear statement of which stakeholder groups you intend to have access.


Transparency is possible whether the process itself is intended to be collaborative or not. The best way to determine what should be transparent is to sketch out the process as it relates to various stakeholder groups. Just like the examples above, it should become clear where transparency is both appropriate and applicable.


You now know who should be informed about what, but when do engage them? This is the easiest part because it is based on their level of entitlement. If they are entitled to vote or influence decision-making processes in any way – transparency should be built into the entire process. If they are entitled to information at a specific point in the process then transparency is key there only.

Now that we have some guidelines, let’s take another look at the examples from the first post in this series.

The airline is honest from the start about the delay and provides real time updates. While waiting, they rebook passengers who will miss their connection so they don’t experience additional delays. Passengers waiting for a flight which is delayed.Access to the cause and length of delays.During regular loud speaker updates and upon individuals request for information.
Employee salaries have been a well-kept secret but a recent event has led to a wide-spread dissatisfaction that how the company selects salaries is both subjective and unfair. Current employees and recruits. Individuals salaries will continue to be considered confidential.

However, the salary ranges for each job title as well as criteria used to determine where individuals fall on the range.

Aggregate data showing pay gaps will be available annually.
Request salary range information from HR at any time.

Annual report of pay gaps will be emailed out in February.
A software company is recruiting for multiple positions using an online system, but the system works slowly and takes applicants a long time to complete. All job applicants.Applicants will be entitled to learn where they are in the hiring process at all times. They will not receive feedback on why they are rejected during that process. Access information by signing in online at any time.

The first step in determining how to be transparent is to narrow down when you will be. The next step is the hardest and that is Communicating for Transparency.

About Megan Wilmoth

Megan Wilmoth has built and managed products ranging from custom software for Fortune 1000 companies to marketing platforms for manufactures. She’s overseen work that impacts hundreds of organizations, thousands of individuals and millions of data points. Her ability to plan and mitigate allow her to succeed in whatever is thrown her way. She is President of Planosaurus, a consulting firm that helps organizations plan to do more with less.

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  • Megan Wilmoth,
  • February 17, 2016

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