Here's the challenge. How long can you go without hearing ,saying,or reading about some one, some company, some country, some program that is committed to being transparent?
A week? A Day? A couple of hours? The word seems to pop up everywhere. However, a little research seems to indicate that I haven't been listening very well because as buzzwords go -- it's been a top 10 buzzword since the 20th century.
Where have I been? Why has it taken me so long to pick up on this trend? Perhaps its because half the time I have no idea what people are talking about when they say there is a need for transparency.
It's taken me until 2006 to fully understand how business and the media use the word. That's right for nearly a decade I've been suffering from Transparency Confusion. As a result, I have avoided incorporating it in my corporate patois.
So in the spirit of public service I thought I would take a closer look at Transparency...just in case there is anyone else out there that is not quite sure what people are talking about when they say 'It's transparent".
According to Buzzwhack
transparent, transparency: A favorite in business and government. It can mean open, visible, accessible, publicly accountable, etc. -- without privacy or secrets. "The computer age is moving society toward greater transparency." Not to be confused with the less admirable definition of transparent -- to have obvious selfish motives. Of course, we would never think of business and government in that manner.
Nominated by Tim Blankenhorn
If that were the end of it, it would be fine. But of course, Transparency has become an entity of its own.
There's Transparency International-- a global coalition against corruption. Their definition of Transparency is:
"Transparency" can be defined as a principle that allows those affected by administrative decisions, business transactions or charitable work to know not only the basic facts and figures but also the mechanisms and processes. It is the duty of civil servants, managers and trustees to act visibly, predictably and understandably. "
Then there's Transparency: the website-- which includes a collection of essays from former journalist Ken Sanes .The website that began in 1997 promises "to make things clear".
And then there is this history of Transparency written in 1999 by Sarah Boxer and printed in the Strait Times of Singapore.
Transparency does seem to be an ideal in all sorts of ways at the
moment," said the literary critic Peter Brooks. And it might have
something to do with a confessional culture. "People don't think they
exist unless they have something to confess."
Lear sees just the opposite: The passion for transparency is an
attempt to repress hidden meaning. He takes his lessons from
"Oedipus thinks that the only realm is what is transparent to the
human mind," Lear said. He hears the oracle and thinks he knows
exactly what the prophecy about killing his father and marrying his
mother means -- Get out of town.
The only problems for him are practical problems. What he does not
realise is that the gods' real message is hidden and opaque. He is
blinded by the apparent transparency.
The article goes on to say that diplomats 'shudder ' at having to say the "C"word (corruption) so instead they speak in code.
If someone is corrupt, the diplomats say " they are not transparent.' transparency has become a code word for "not corrupt."
IAnd so in diplomacy instead of saying someone is corrupt...you'll hear them say 'they are not transparent.'
And in case you're wondering how the whole transparency phenomenon started. We can thank the French Revolution.
The Jacobins believed that if you were not transparent, you had
something to hide. You were an enemy of virtue. They sent people to
the guillotine because they were opaque."