March 12, 2015

Accelerating with transparency

Transparency has been a hot topic for a while. Discussion on radical transparency was recently raised by the Harvard Business Review in its December issue.

We easily tip-toe around transparency, especially in the context of corporate innovation and product development. This is because radical transparency may even feel threatening.

However, I would still say that innovations of the future will be created more and more often in networks where transparency has an instrumental role in accelerating development.

Transparency in the business environment is often associated with fears concerning data security, competition and reputation. These fears can be confronted by creating a working environment, which supports the management of transparency and harnessing it to support development. Three core factors in the utilisation of transparency are:

  1. Freedom and enlightened sharing. The freedom of expression and sharing of viewpoints must be supported. An encouraging innovation environment accompanied by open and clear NDA practices helps create a safe environment for individuals to express themselves without fear of infringements. Taking responsibility for our own behaviours and how we address others' ideas is vital to an environment that encourages sharing.
  2. Media literacy and communication skills. Transparency floods information streams. There are different levels of transparency that can guide messaging and communication. Social media literacy and and communication skills are core assets of modern business life. These are core skills for each employee, not just communications professionals or the management.
  3. Stealing vs. refining. When an idea is presented to others, it can always be stolen. While this type of fear is human, in many cases it is not really justified. An effective way to tackle the fear of theft is to declare the ideas fair game right at the start (which they also are within the scope of the law). Today we often talk about mash-up culture, which emphasizes the ability to continuously build on top of existing and emerging innovations. If someone steals or copies your idea and manages to build a better solution based on it, you should already have a new idea up your sleeve that builds on top of the copycat's version.

Transparency and open dialogue validate solutions and improve the integrity of development. It is smart for us to challenge the existing norms and learn to think outside of familiar practices. Transparency is a great tool for identifying the right direction at the early stages of development.

At Tieto, we have established new ways to create ideas and transparently move them forward. Tieto Bubble Sessions and Tieto Experience Hub are two methods of working that support transparent interaction and development across business fields. We believe strongly in ecosystems and in the idea that innovations are born, but above all refined in networks outside your own organisation. With a good innovative ecosystem that makes use of transparency, a faster creation and generation of ideas, and, above all, disruptive inventions can be achieved.

A successful new-age innovation project that utilises transparency and networks is a learning journey on which new communications skills are grown, and an understanding of the world of radical transparency is built.

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