Four Transparencies: Values, Vision, Behaviors, Identity

The Four Transparencies


Intention ranges from wise and pure to ignorant and corrupt

Access to information ranges from open to closed


Perspective ranges from big picture to small, seeing detail in context at each level

Resolution is the detail available at each level, more providing a clearer “ground truth”


Cognitive ranges along a scale from open-minded to close-minded

Emotional has a maturity scale, where maturity is not dependent upon age


Boundaries define insiders and outsiders, what are appropriately public and private arenas

Domains of government, organizations, and families differ in how transparent they should be

When used in a social context, transparency is about values vs. corruption and open access to information. However, the idea applies to governments differently from how it applies to people in their families and in private organizations. Transparency must be developed together with privacy where its needed and appropriate.

Transparency for organizations is vital to its members' ability to think and collaborate globally with shared mental models, and act more intelligently locally. Transparency is essential for environments where relationships and trust are essential, particularly for virtual environments. It is also key to coping with complexity, situations that require many people to make decisions related to a common context -- for example, in restoring trust to financial markets to unfreeze credit.

As a concrete matter, not just a physical metaphor, there are limiting conditions for an internal observer’s unaided field of vision across large organizational networks.

Organizations and people become transparent when they pull back the curtains,
or draw them shut, in four dimensions: Values (intention and access), Behaviors (cognitive and emotional),
(perspective and resolution), and Identity (domain and boundaries).


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