Summary of Transparency

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Rating

8

Qualities

  • Applicable

Recommendation

At 144 pages, you could finish this slim volume in an evening. Its three, smoothly written essays combine to make an engaging book. Authors Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman and James O’Toole, writing with Patricia Ward Biederman, blend references to well-known events with useful new accounts of transparency and opacity, and their outcomes. The writers focus primarily on concept and character, but they also offer specific suggestions for action. The essays fall between diagnosing what’s wrong with many organizations, and providing a manifesto on how to fix the problems by using transparency. The book is a clarion call for ethical action and openness. That alone is pretty common; who would openly call for dishonesty and secrecy? However, three things make this collection vital: the personal experience of the authors (especially O’Toole), the synthesis of history and current events, and the clarity of its ethical vision. getAbstract recommends this book to all readers who are interested in business ethics, and to leaders who want to know how to make their organizations more transparent.

About the Authors

Warren Bennis, author of On Becoming a Leader and co-author of Judgment, teaches at The Leadership Institute at USC. Daniel Goleman wrote Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence. James O’Toole wrote The Executive’s Compass. Patricia Ward Biederman co-wrote Organizing Genius and is a former Los Angeles Times writer.

 

Summary

Transparency: What It Is, Why It Matters

You’ve probably heard or read about the term “transparency.” It seems like everybody is calling for more transparency or claiming to have transparent organizations. In reality, however, few organizations are really transparent and few leaders understand the concept. Transparency means “creating a culture of candor” where people feel comfortable speaking their minds and where information flows freely. Within a transparent organization, information flows to the right people, so they have the knowledge they need to make useful, ethical decisions. Information also flows readily back and forth between transparent organizations and the culture surrounding them, allowing for ethically consistent action, and a heightened awareness of social and economic concerns. You can tell how long your organization is likely to last by how transparent it is and you can predict how well teams will work together by how open they are.

As essential as transparency often is, it is not a universal good. Sometimes, people must keep information secret for business reasons, for example, to protect “secret recipes or corporate strategies,” or to meet “national...


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