I read an article in the Telegraph today by the chaps who wrote the delightful Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister tv series. One part of the article – Yes Minister Sir Humphrey has all the solutions – struck me as being highly relevant to the topic of opening up the enterprise to customers. Here it is:
“From: Sir Humphrey Appleby
To: Bernard Woolley
I understand your anxiety about the new government’s fixation on ”transparency’’, but you are distressing yourself unnecessarily. It afflicts all incoming administrations. It used to be called ”open government’’, and reflects the frustrations they felt when they were in opposition and could not find out what was going on, combined with an eagerness to discover and publicise the deception, distortions and disasters of their predecessors.
But it does not last beyond the first few months. As time passes they realise they have more to lose than to gain from public knowledge of what they are up to. Each month increases their tally of catastrophic misjudgments, pathetic deceptions, humiliating retreats and squalid compromises. They very soon come to understand that sound and effective government is only possible if people do not know what you are doing. The Freedom of Information Act was the greatest blow to firm and decisive administration since the execution of King Charles I. Quite soon our new masters will realise that secrecy may be the enemy of democracy, but it is the foundation of government.”
From the customer perspective transparency is great, for organisational leaders it does not look that attractive. We all want to look good and avoid looking bad.