This is a really excellent question. There are a lot of answers, but after reading through them, I felt I could still contribute! Most importantly, I’d advise against any suggestion that it’s “aways ____”. Every start up is different, and I wouldn’t trust a “one size fits all” type of advice.
It may help to think of your start-up as a collection of “things”. Each of these things are a factor that either weighs in on operations (business type) or makes demands of the start-up (government regulations). Identifying all the things feeding into your start-up helps to shape your answer here. Try answering these questions independently of each other first:
• What kind of risk is there in transparency for the industry I’m in (offshore banking may be different than shoe manufacturing).
• What kind of employees will my start-up have? (general labour, skilled technical, traditional professionals, etc.) What risks are associated with exposing things to these kinds of people? It’s important not to think of specific names/faces at this point – staff is transient so try to profile the characteristics (the way you would for an job posting/interview).
• What am I comfortable with telling strangers? Eventually your business will hire strangers (either right away or over time). If you have innate reluctances, you’ll either need to address them or adjust your transparency level. Being transparent can’t feel like pulling [your own] teeth. What can you improve on for yourself and what are you unwilling to shift from?
• What is the worst-case scenario if you loose staff? What risks are associated with the degree of transparency you’re considering? (online gambling may pose much higher risk than a manufacturing plant)
• What will the expectation be of your staff? A lot of this you can control through interviews and selection; but you’ve still got to know what you’re selecting for.
Of course, I don’t think I could be more helpful without being more specific, which I wouldn’t try to do without knowing more about your business. Feel free to contact me directly if you’d like more details.
Complete internal transparency would be ideal within a startup if everyone's ideals would allow for that. Other factors unfortunately could corrupt an ideal transparent culture, to the point where structure may have to change is trust is lost. Therefore, since every startup is different with different individuals involved, and a startup is constantly evolving, a tolerable level of transparency can also evolve over time. It is always best to promote as much transparency as possible, but like JC Quek mentioned, we don't live in an ideal world.
If everything was beautiful and nothing hurt, 100% internal transparency transform all individuals thoughts into a combine corporate thoughts - marvellous achievement!
Reality tells us otherwise, startup phase focus of transparency within the partners (other members in the organization don't really need much transparency) which is different from grow and mature phase. However, there are too many cases where partners turn against each other, leak out trade secrets, steal customers, fight over distribution rights and so on ...
Transparency is therefore cannot work alone, there are other considerations, and one obvious one will be:
"the working of the relationship management within partners managing each other expectations to balance the overall expectations and rights"
I'm reminded of my favorite quote, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive."
Be 100% transparent until the cost of doing so exceeds the benefit.
In the developed economies, and in today's collaborative business practices, compliance & transparency hold the key of successful partnerships -- whether internal or external. Other than sensitive corporate deals, start-ups must have a culture of transparency. e.g No angels will support start ups of various cover-ups. No external collaborators or enablers would work with a non transparent start-ups.
Transparency is always important but even more so at the beginning when everything is new including the relationships between participants. Internal transparency allows participants to build a culture of honesty, clarity and trust from the very beginning which will become increasingly important as the business matures.
The movement works relentlessly to stir the world’s collective conscience and bring about change. Much remains to be done to stop corruption, but much has also been achieved, Including follows:
1 Companies held accountable for their behaviour both at abroad and home.
2 The creation of international anti-corruption conventions
3 The prosecution of corrupt leaders and seizures of their illicitly gained riches.
4 National elections won and lost on tackling corruption
Many things to do more.
This is an interesting question because whenever you find a company and/or its resources mentioning its very transparent internally & externally - most of the times you find it to be their intentions!!!, whereas in reality, they also grapple with lack of transparency..
With startup companies, if there is a clear understanding across various partners, founders and or top management/ leadership on - What they actually bring to the table and what shall I do to make this happen successfully - 50% of transparency in generated here!!!. The rest is meaningful and prudent use of communication like emails, messages, voice calls, direct meets etc. to ensure that right level of information is shared/updated on regular intervals and always in relevance
The limiting of being transparent from any one individual and/or team in any company is actually a "red flag" and if its addressed immediately and with a positive outcome, greater results can be derived.
On transparency, whether its internal or external - the limits are based on objectives and intentions........ than actions
Complete transparency is the best strategy. You'll find that more people will join your bandwagon and very few, if any, people will work against you. I receive the best advice and support from my competition. The world is biggest enough for everyone to succeed. Join your professional assoc.
Internal transparency is necessary to keep all the members working together. There may be some matters that need to be limited to the board and executive staff but open communication will reduce uncertainty and reinforce the sense that "we're all in this together". In short, make the organization as transparent as possible without compromising confidentiality or regulatory matters.
The largest potential danger for startups relates to partners, see Business Startup or The Entrepreneurs Guide on audible.com, iTunes, simplymagazine.com, staples.com, or Costco.ca. Transparency is part of the problem.
But it does not goo far enough. At what level are you talking about? and is this two way transparency or one way?
As a general rule, I suggest as much as possible without violating prudent security guidelines and without endangering the operation, using the toe-in-the-water approach rather than the belly-flop from the diving board.
Lack of transparency can result in not giving participants the information they need to operate successfully. Need to know is important, Nice to know is optional,
Hmmm I dont think a person's ultimate vision for the company needs to be exposed but the amount of the vision that will get people on board and working towards a common mission should be.
What levels of the company are you talking about, is this like financial transparency from front line to ceo cause I feel that should be as transparent as possible.
Complete transparency is critical between the early partners involved in start ups. It is the shared passion and interests that birthed the ideas and at times it is the chaotic conditions that keep the targeted goals in the sites. Keeping everyone "in the loop" helps drive the initiative forward.
The question is not how much internal transparency a startup can tolerate but how much it can afford - or not. Transparency forces a company to face uncomfortable situations but also brings everyone together. Greater transparency brings in a sense of belonging and ownership. See "Getting Naked" by Patrick Lencioni.