Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Seth Godin on transparency

One of my favorite bloggers/writers/speakers/personalities/gurus Seth Godin recently had some thoughts on the power of transparency:

Can you succeed financially by acting in an ethical way?

I think the Net has opened both ends of the curve. On one hand, black hat tactics, scams, deceit and misdirection are far easier than ever to imagine and to scale. There are certainly people quietly banking millions of dollars as they lie and cheat their way to traffic and clicks.

On the other hand, there's far bigger growth associated with transparency. When your Facebook profile shows years of real connections and outreach and help for your friends, it's a lot more likely you'll get that great job.

When your customer service policies delight rather than enrage, word of mouth more than pays your costs. When past investors blog about how successful and ethical you were, it's a lot easier to attract new investors.

The Net enlarges the public sphere and shrinks the private one. And black hats require the private sphere to exist and thrive. More light = more success for the ethical players.

In a competitive world, then, one with increasing light, the way to win is not to shave more corners or hide more behavior, because you're going against the grain, fighting the tide of increasing light. In fact, the opposite is true. Individuals and organizations that can compete on generosity and fairness repeatedly defeat those that only do it grudgingly.

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