How to build a business – Transparency

I am writing this blog for two reasons. The first one is that I believe in transparency .The reason that I am blogging in the first place, and that we publish lots of information on our website, that we organize What’s Qooking events with partners and clients, that we take part in LinkedIn groups is that we want everyone who is interested to know and understand Why, and How we are running this business. Anything we do, except when covered by a client NDA, is public knowledge as far as I am concerned.

The second reason is that I saw a TED Talk on transparency this morning, and it is so funny and spot-on that I can wait to write about it, and to post the link.

It is a talk by Morgan Spurlock, an American documentary filmmaker that you might know from Supersize Me. He is an extremely funny guy, too. He talks about the making of “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”, a documentary film about product placement, marketing and advertising which was itself financed through product placement. The goal of the film is Transparency. Very few companies want to participate, because they are struggling with the dilemma of loads of exposure and transparency. To them transparency means an uncertain outcome: “Who knows, maybe by the time your film comes out, we look like a bunch of blithering idiots”.  Maybe in that case they were in the first place. They just did not want their clients to know it.

Spurlock quotes the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of Transparency:

a : free from pretense or deceit

b : easily detected or seen through

c : readily understood

d : characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices

How can you not want to go for those attributes? Still, the dilemma is real. If anyone can have a look in the kitchen, some may not like what they see and go somewhere else, some might want to steal the Chef’s recipes and start their own restaurant, and others might just be curious, enthusiastic, learn something, eat and enjoy. The best chefs, like Ferran Adria of El Bulli, have no secrets. It is their drive and creativity that make them unique.

Tomorrow we have our one-hundred-and-third MT meeting. Having an MT meeting is a dilemma in itself. We like to think of ourselves as a tribe, not a hierarchical company, we believe in Leadership more than in Management, but still we need a group of people to strengthen and support what we are all doing together, and to take some decisions. So we like structure, but we are not too crazy about Control, we care for Autonomy, but want some of our ideas to be adopted, we have an appetite for Risk and Innovation, but need to earn a living and still want to be in business in ten years. Dilemma’s…

On the agenda for tomorrow is transparency. How can motivate everyone to share everything that is relevant? How do we really open up the network? Why does not everyone think it is a brilliant idea to make detailed financial records public, down to a level of personal revenues?

Interesting questions, interesting dilemma’s. And there are many more, that we all have to discuss, find answers to, and blend into what we want to be. What about:

Structure versus Effectuation

Experience versus Innovation

Control versus Autonomy

The Spider versus the Starfish

Interaction versus Transaction

What we will do: we will build or tribe and our brand one story at a time. And there are three sides to a story: your side, my side and the real story. Maybe that is true. We will tell our stories, you are invited to tell yours. No comments will go unpublished.

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