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Honesty Requires Transparency

Honesty Requires Transparency

I’ve never understood all the fuss in the US about the royal family in England, who are obscenely wealthy and are a very expensive anachronism. However, I understand they play a certain role, and I fervently hope that both King Charles and Princess Kate recover from their serious illnesses.

I think they and their advisors made the predicament worse by not being absolutely transparent about the nature of their hospitalization. (Queen Elizabeth’s death was publicly listed as caused by “old age.” I doubt that simply “old age” kills everyone, it’s usually an illness, disease, or organ failure that does it.)

There are three aspects to seeing things, as demonstrated by glass: Transparency allows clear views, translucency allows light through but not great detail, and opaqueness can’t be seen through at all. The royals have been translucent but not transparent (and before that, opaque) and this has caused speculation, conspiracy theories, and distrust. They either made bad decisions or someone made bad decisions on their behalf, but the buck stops with them in any case.

Leaders and organizations make this same mistake. In an effort to reveal some details but short of full disclosure, more concern arises, trust declines, and loyalty diminishes or disappears. I’m not talking about outright fraud, like Theranos or Bernie Madoff, but rather deliberately incomplete information as I believe we see with Boeing or the Boy Scouts or most school boards.

Either let the light shine through completely or not at all, but when you allow just some of it then what I can’t make out I attribute to things you want to hide while trying to fool me. I don’t believe in UFOs hidden by the government, but I do believe there are things, perhaps minor perhaps not, about the assassination of John F. Kennedy that we’ve never been told and for no good reason.

“Let there be light” is the first step, but “let there be detail and honesty” is the critical one.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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