After a culture of cover-ups and nondisclosure comes transparency, accountability, unrestricted access to information and a flood of honest, user-generated feedback.

Rising concern about everything from government and corporate secrecy to global warming and health has left people sceptical and aware. The informed citizen wants openness on all levels – from international government down to their local farmer. We are all adapting to the idea that there’s nowhere to hide, with open-salary practices and an internet that never forgets.

Cultural Shift
Clive Thompson addressed this in his article about ‘The See-Through CEO’ in Wired in 2007. Describing how total transparency is the norm for startups, he added:  “Some of this isn’t even about business; it’s a cultural shift, a redrawing of the lines between what’s private and what’s public. A generation has grown up blogging, posting a daily phonecam picture on Flickr and listing its geographic position in real time on Dodgeball and Google Maps. For them, authenticity comes from online exposure.”

A Transparent Future
Transparency and trust are closely interlinked, and organisations are slowly acknowledging the benefits of openness and honesty. Being trusted and liked relies on good ethics and sound value sets – in fact it is crucial to embrace these two principles before consumers even consider interacting with you. The UK government recently hired the inventor of the world wide web to spearhead its first initiative into open government. The data.gov website will share official information with the public, preparing the ground for a transparent future.

Information Imbalance
The movement toward total transparency is already impacting financial markets. Information imbalance — where crucial information is withheld — pollutes the market. In the finance sector this led to the crisis over Toxic Assets. We clearly see a trend toward greater marketplace openness about everything. Products are now measured by environmental and health impact, corporations by caring and ethical values. The more transparent a market, economic theory holds, the healthier it will be.

Inspirational Sources

“The greatest way to live with honour in this world is to be what we pretend to be” – Socrates

* ‘The See-Through CEO’ This articles by Clive Thompson by Wired 2007  indicates the early talk about transparency.

Scandinavia leads the way in sustainable eGovernment progress. A EC-funded benchmarking study from 2007 show that the highest performing eGovernment services are strongly underpinned by citizen trust, and government transparency.

UK Government turn to open information to the public. The government brought in the inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, last June as an adviser for the launch of data.gov.uk “so that government information is accessible and useful for the widest possible group of people”. Video and article >>

Images
1. Secure, Shared, Shredded – Gray’s School of Art >>
2. Tate Modern roofgarden members room
3. Man in the London underground

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