When we think about transparency and the work that we do, there is a consideration of what that might really mean. And whereas transparency refers to clear visibility, it can also act as a reflection of the team. Quite an interesting paradox.
Under the definition of Transparent:
readily understood; characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices"
How, then, can we become transparent? Let's dive into a few different areas.
We can be transparent in the way that we interact with others. There are different aspects of interactions; who we interact with and how we interact with them.
Much (if not all) of the decisions that are made are done so through conversations. There is a required effort in not limiting interactions within the team. Take time to expand the interaction tree to create a bridge of communication with outside influencers, downstream participants, and/or other stakeholders.
In creating this dialogue, there is more to just the doing part. Once the bridge is there, engage with the individuals in a way that affords them with a feeling of understanding, rationale, insights; with a general feeling of inclusiveness.
Decisions won't happen in a vacuum. We want to project a culture of inclusivity in the organization and within the team. Create a dynamic so that all feel welcome in the team and team room. Feed the culture with success stories, challenges, rationale, and decision points. Share a sense of the what's, the why's, and he how's. Provide greater insight into the team more so than what cards on a wall will give. Garner and sustain a level of comfortability in and around the dynamics of the team.
Information is only as good as the distance it travels. Information availability is not just important at the team level, but outside the team as well. By making information available, it lets everyone into the happenings behind the scenes. There are several avenues to take in making this happen. Simply making information available does not solve the issue. The information needs to be digestible to the audience.
A common approach is to create and showcase a dashboard as a method to highlight data from the team in a variety of charts and matrices in an effort to provide the consumer a rolled up, easy to read, visual representation of the team's current state. If the team is using a physical board, be sure to explicitly invite others to the room or space to see it, though, by having a digital depiction provides broader access is not constrained by geographic location.
Information can only support and fund decisions of those who can see the information that is available. Even if the information has been made available, if others cannot find or access it, any potential positive impact is lost. Take the efforts necessary to ensure that the environment and permissions are configured appropriately.
Creating a culture of transparency is not an overnight or simple process. Maybe in theory, but in practice, there are many facets to undertake as a mechanism to truly growing transparent opportunities inside a team and within an organization. It is another aspect of change, and change can be a bumpy road. With courage, trust, and respect, we can navigate those bumps together and come out on the other side stronger and much better positioned for sustainable success.
Please, also, see an article I wrote on transparency that was published in PM Network entitled Open Doors