Transparency Leads to Well-Informed Participation


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Does your company operate with a culture of transparency? How transparent are your executives with employees, customers, shareholders?

There’s a quote on Wikipedia that reads: For well-informed participation to occur, it is argued that some version of transparency, e.g. radical transparency, is necessary, but not sufficient. It’s unattributed, but I’ve seen it a few times.

For what it’s worth, I agree with it. If you want employees and customers to “participate.” i.e., become engaged, work for you, and buy from you, it’s important that they are well informed about the company, as well.

Transparency with employees fosters a culture of trust. When executives are transparent with employees, employees then follow suit with their own openness and communication.

With transparency also comes clarity. (Remember my post, What Happens in Vagueness Stays in Vagueness?) That assumes that executives communicate and are transparent about the right things, i.e., purpose, vision, values, brand promise, goals, expectations, etc. And that lays the foundation for your employees to deliver a great customer experience.

That’s a good segue to talking about transparency with customers. I wrote about how a culture of transparency translates to great customer experiences. Why? Because companies that share information so that customers can make informed decisions about their products, brands, employment, etc. are more easily trusted. Customers can make informed decisions about whether they want to have a “relationship” with a company.

I won’t belabor the points here, since I’ve written about transparency several times; feel free to read the posts linked above to read more of my views on transparency. But what I do want to share for the remainder of the post is an amazing and beautiful car factory in Germany.

You’re probably thinking, “What on earth does that have to do with transparency? You’ve lost it, Annette. Four days in the heart of the Polar Vortex last week, and your brain has been frozen.” Not quite.

That car factory is none other than the Transparent Factory in Dresden, Germany. Never heard of it? Neither had I. Until a couple months ago. It’s the factory where Volkswagen’s controversial luxury sedan, Phaeton, is built. It’s called the Transparent Factory for both its obvious physical characteristics as well as its transparency of the production process. Take seven minutes to watch this video and to be impressed.

It’s pretty amazing to watch! The building itself is fascinating – it’s an architectural, engineering, and production dream come true. And I love how…

  • the concerns of the community were addressed when the factory was built, .e.g., the CarGo Tram that brings materials into the factory;
  • customers get to watch their cars being built or even help to build their cars; they’re invited to pick up their cars at the factory;
  • tourists can come in and watch, and visitors can use several virtual displays to test drive and to design their own dream cars; and
  • employees benefit not only from technology that simplifies the car building process but also from the materials used to build the factory; for example, the Canadian maple floors are said to reduce worker fatigue, and indirect lighting is used to reduce eye strain.

They’ve even taken measures to keep the birds from flying into the glass! They built an outdoor speaker system that speaks in “bird language” and lets birds know that this spot is taken.

Volkswagen’s Christian Haacke says: People in the Saxony region carry a special engineering gene in their hearts and minds. It took a lot of time and patience for locals to be convinced this was a good idea, but for us, transparency was a metaphor. We had to be truly credible to the bone.

It seems there’s a great experience for everyone: neighbors, community, employees, and customers. This is definitely transparency in action!

Eyes so transparent that through them the soul is seen. -Theophile Gautier

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Annette Franz
Annette Franz is founder and Chief Experience Officer of CX Journey Inc. She is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, consultant, and speaker. She has 25+ years of experience in helping companies understand their employees and customers in order to identify what makes for a great experience and what drives retention, satisfaction, and engagement. She's sharing this knowledge and experience in her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the "Customer" in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business).


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