Tuesday, April 22, 2014

There's more to transparency than telling the truth

There's more to transparency than simply telling the truth.

Let me give you an example. A standard packet of Walkers Quavers you may buy in your local corner shop delivers 109 calories.

However, flip over to the the rear of the same pack and you find some interesting claims about a range of Walkers snacks which all come in at under 99 calories a pack. You'll note Quavers are included in their number.
How can this possibly be?

The answer is far from transparent.

A packet of Quavers from a multipack is just 88 calories actually. Wow. Do they use a different recipe? No, they just make the packs smaller (16.4g in the multipack vs 20.5 in the ordinary one).

Given time and the internet you can find this stuff out. Walkers are making the truth available - but that's not the kind of transparency demanded of Open Business; ie the kind that builds trust between consumer and brand.

There is a sense of dishonesty rather than truth in how this is presented to us. It feels like we are being deliberately given parts of the story when that part is to the benefit of one party (the brand) rather than the mutual benefit of both.

And as we make clear in chapter 10  of The 10 Principles of Open Business (Trust), building trust requires the customers belief that the brand has their best interest at heart.

The Quavers example feels like the brand tells the part of the truth it feels will be of most benefit to it at any one point. A transparent retelling may have the mutlipacks stating: "Smaller snack size - scaled down calories too"!

Transparency (Principle 8 of the 10) requires honesty. Without it we can be reduced to telling only the truth that benefits us.


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?