Net Transparency: A Compelling Argument for Airing (All) the Laundry

A friend (thanks, Doug!) sent along a link to a Wired Magazine article about the “See-Through CEO“, referring to the emerging trend of CEOs posting openly and honestly about… well, about basically everything. The article makes an extremely compelling argument for laying it all on the line, becoming part of the online conversation, and – in effect – helping to steer some of that conversation via participation.

Late in the article the author makes the distinction between “secrecy” and “lies.” Essentially, companies can’t afford to tell lies anymore because the odds of being discovered are so great. You can, however, still try to maintain some secrecy in your business practices and, in many cases, this makes perfect sense. They cite the iPhone as a legitimate example of maintaining secrecy and control to deliver a stunning product. So secrecy can continue as necessary, but any sort of untruth, even a little white lie, will likely serve as tinder for the upcoming flame.

Having been blogging for some time, I can see the logic of the argument. Some of these case studies, like Redfin, simply couldn’t have been handled as cleanly in any other way. But as a trusted advisor to many small- to medium-sized organizations, I’m left wondering about the issue at the center: Does anyone really care?

Do people out there really care what is going on behind the scenes in a small IT firm? Or a medical equipment manufacturer? Does anyone really want to know the challenges facing the owner of growing durable goods maker? Or the things I face running my company? Ultimately, I think they do. Maybe not a lot of people, but each of these businesses has customers, vendors and employees. And I submit that they care quite a lot. And those small audiences are reason enough to stay involved, stay engaged, and continuing putting out the laundry for all to see.

[Read “The See-Through CEO” on Wired]


  1. Thanks, Jim!Personally, I like doing business with people who are honest and that care about the impact of their decisions. I don’t mind working with companies that make mistakes – as long as they’re willing to discuss them. If I trust you, I’m going to stick with you through thick and thin.I think blogging provides that platform for companies to show that they can (or can’t) be trusted. It will be interesting to see where this takes us!Thanks again for the link love!

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