Jun 24, 2008

Radical Transparency and the Right to Information

When WIRED recently announced that transparency is a judo move, they obviously didn't mean what PSFK discovered at the Captial One offices recently.

That gaffe, however, set me thinking.

In this world of radical transparency, co-creation, customer participation, etc - are companies doing everything they can to win the trust of their customers? I think not.

It's a long way off, but I think someone, somewhere out there will make the ultimate transparency judo move - to enshrine a right to information clause in its brand charter.

As per the clause, anyone - consumer, press or competition - can demand (not request, but demand) to see any information about a company/brand and the company will willingly oblige. Not as a favour - but as a self-imposed obligation.

What such a move would do, above everything else, is to regulate and weed the kind of supercilious thinking that brands have in the lower ranks. Because - even sales training manuals and sessions - are open to scrutiny by the very people they are designed to ensnare.

While seemingly improbable, I think the RTI clause isn't too much of a long shot. When the honeymoon of collaborations and user-generated strategy is over - when consumers are no longer grateful for just being asked to contribute - they will demand their pound of flesh for what they offer.

That is more transparency - and not of the 'look I'm doing you a favour' sort.
About the author:
Iqbal Mohammed is Head of Innovation & Strategy at a digital innovation agency serving the DACH and wider European markets. He is the winner of the WPP Atticus Award for Best Original Published Writing in Marketing & Communication.
You can reach him via email or Twitter.


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