SOURCE FORBES ONLINE By John Hall
There are companies, like 3M, that have made transparency a big part of their culture, as demonstrated by their commitment to Scotch tape. For others, it isn’t as easy. Transparency is something many leaders shy away from; the repercussions of people finding out their “secrets” could be detrimental to their companies. Despite this, there are leaders who make an effort to create a level of trust with clients, employees, and investors. The following 10 leaders are clearing the way for a better, more open business world.
1. Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz – If there’s a president in the world of transparency, it’s definitely Rand. A couple days ago, he posted his own performance review. In it, you can see that Rand challenges himself quite a bit. SEOmoz has made their funding decks open to the public, which is pretty much unheard of. They share all of their failures (and their successes) with the world so others can learn from their experiences.
2. Jason Fried of 37signals – Jason helped pioneer a “Happiness Report,” which allows you to see how positive their last 100 customer support interactions were. His philosophy is that transparency truly succeeds only when it’s both internal and external. His customers get to see the service that is provided, and his employees are motivated to improve its quality.
3. Jim Whitehurst of Red Hat – Red Hat has a great, employee-fueled forum called “memo-list,” which functions as a social network to facilitate communication about major issues or any other topic that should be openly discussed. Jim and other leaders interact, encouraging collaboration and transparency in decision-making.
4. Brandon Dempsey of goBRANDgo! – Brandon’s company posts its financials on the wall in their office (See picture to the right). They share revenue, profit, cash flow, cash account balances, credit card balances, payroll, lines of credit, expenses, and the previous year’s history as well. Brandon wants his employees, partners, and clients to all know exactly where the company stands.
5. Tony Hsieh of Zappos – Tony and Zappos do remarkable things when it comes to transparency. Two of their most recent tweets are actually emails he sent to his employees about facility operations – a great way to keep customers informed about what’s going on behind the scenes.
6. Jordan Guernsey of Molding Box – Molding Box doesn’t hide the fact that it hires ex-cons. Instead, Jordan promotes the idea that people deserve a second chance; by integrating these ex-cons back into society, the company does both these individuals and their community a service. Russell Bloss, a former bank robber, has proved this, as noted in a recent article in KSL.com.
7. Brad Feld of Foundry Group – Check out Feld.com to see how openly Brad lives his life. Brad allowed his investments to publicly talk about the numbers of their deals. He also co-authored Venture Deals: Be Smarter than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist with Jason Mendelson that demystifies the entire term sheet progress.
8. Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income – In an Internet marketing world that has spawned some shady marketers, Pat Flynn has separated himself as a transparent leader. Pat shares how much he earns from products, advertising, and clients on his blog posts, highlighting how he has succeeded – and failed.
9. Jason Goldberg of Fab – Jason emerged from a gay social network to become a retail phenomenon. If you check out Betashop.com you’ll see Jason shares everything from company financials to vacation plans. Jason consistently communicates with his customers to build long-term trust.
10. Andy Levine of Development Counselors International – DCI became an “open book” company by implementing “The Game.” This platform created a monthly game that communicates the company’s complete financial picture to each staff member. To give every staff member a financial stake in the outcome, when a certain profit is accrued, a “win” is declared. Thirty percent of this profit is then distributed across the company, based upon a formula derived from each staff member’s base salary during the “win” period.
This list contains companies boasting different sizes, industries, and tactics. But each example proves it’s okay to leave the B.S. out of business and be real with people. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or part of a large company, it’s good to show that you have nothing to hide. When I was building DTA, these were some of the leaders that inspired me. I hope these examples can help you clear up the fog in your business, as well.
SOURCE FORBES ONLINE By John Hall