Is the new Enterprise really exposing itself?


Okay I was reading our course text last week and I have to put in my 2c worth against the concept of “Transparency in the Enterprise”.

The text by Cook, p9 exhibits the belief by “Social Media Purists” that there should be no secrets any more and ultimately anyone who tries to keep secrets will ultimatley be exposed by the power of their media.

Others do not buy into that belief it says, because that ideology simply doesn’t reflect the real world because some companies have to keep secrets to maintain a competitive advantage or because law enforces it.

It goes on to say that every employee is a spokesperson and that the porous membrane around the internal conversations happening in the corporation is being punctured by employees and customers alike making conversations in their respective domains.

I pondered what risk this exposes to the business. Like, to what extent could damage be caused by allowing employees to be spokespeople without some form of governance against negative press?

My view is that in today’s connected world freedom of the press belongs to almost everyone. Case in point, if someone has a great meal somewhere and writes a review on it, then that also means some 1 billion people have the potential to be able to read about it and form their own opinion about that restaurant, right? The same thing occurs for positive press, respectively. So we can conclude that this kind of activity has a significant potential to effect reputation. Take for example this situation.

If employees are engaging in these same conversations that are happening within the same markets on the ‘edges’ of the Internet then the proposition illustrated by Cook does theoretically make for the possibility for today’s Enterprise to be completely open and transparent.

If this is true then there is no stopping these conversations from within the company from  pouring into the open world in full view for all and sundry to see. So how transparent does this make the enterprise where in today’s connected Web 2.0 world employers are just as connected to their employees?

I posted a question on my Facebook to see what would happen and the results were pretty much what I expected.

I asked, “Would you be a customer of your present (or former) place of employment. If so why, or why not?”

To put some context around what I was asking I wrote, “If your present or former place of employment were a restaurant for example, would you trust that the cooking of your steak dinner was executed professionally and with care to your exact requirements or would you have some concerns that it could have been dropped on the floor a few times before it got to your table?”

Even though I know some of my friends work for, or have worked for some rather corrupt firms I had no negative press in response. I expected this because Facebook is the perfect multiplicity where everyone is connected to everyone in some way, even if it is true – in terms of negative press which comes within the organisation also reflects poorly on the employee.

Of course my self-employed friends responded, saying they loved their job and had the greatest bosses in the world which wasn’t expected but I should have seen that one coming!

I will leave that thought with you but I believe the rather romantic notion of a ‘transparent’ Enterprise based on nothing more than a few glasses of wine and a bit of fun on Facebook is opaque at best.


2 comments on “Is the new Enterprise really exposing itself?

  1. Interesting post. I guess to a degree, through corporate culture, staff codes of conduct or social media policies, employees may never speak as freely about their employer online as they do over the family dinner table.
    The optimist in me sees, transparency could mean a whole new way of doing things, where customers can see and are involved in the decision-making process like the tshirt making company, Threadless. The cynic in me sees, Web 2.0 could become just another place to manipulate the company image – there’s a lot of advice online on “how to ungoogle yourself”,- seems mostly to be geared towards those who want to polish up their online images for recruitment searches but you can be companies are doing it too. I also found an interesting article on Stuff last year about online reviews:

  2. Great post Mandy thank you for your reply! I must say after reading the article you shared from the ‘Stuff’ website on fake reviews it has opened my eyes to a whole new world of unscrupulous people.
    The proposition of transparency meaning a new way of doing things is much more succinct and elegant.
    I am leaning towards suggesting the term ‘Transparency’ as being a bit out-dated perhaps as it doesn’t appear to hold water. My interpretation was that the terms was intended to mean that companies will no longer be able to manipulate opinion, hold secrets and that the world will be free from corrupt corporations by the power of Web 2.0. Certainly after reading the data on fake on-line reviews (conversations taking place in the market outside of the porous membrane) this firms up even further the endless possibilities for corruption that exist to further shape what the corporation wants that ‘Transparency’ to look like by all sorts of social counter-measures. I will endeavor to steer away from this subject and pour more thought into the more positive aspects of communication and collaboration in my next post.
    Thank you for your feedback and for the further information 🙂

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