Opacity vs Transparency

I'm sure you have heard this before...

We need to be transparent!

...and even this...

All operations are completely transparent to our users.

Sound familiar? Transparency is one of the most over-used terms in business today. It speaks of complete openness, with ourselves and with our clients. Few, if any though, are truly transparent. Do you really tell everyone everything you do well AND, more importantly, everything you do wrong? Most likely not.

In the end, are you going to admit you’re not 100% transparent? Just close? At that point you’re making a positive sound negative. It just doesn’t seem like a worthy metric.

Don’t be discouraged. Graphic design points to a much better metric, opacity. Opacity is the percentage one layer blocks another. Using a 0-100% scale with 100% meaning completely opaque. This can be used to easily describe how frank you are with yourself. Think of 100% opacity meaning you have the blinds completely shut. The outside world is blind to your operations. As the blinds open more and more, your percentage will decrease.

The first question to consider is: What is your level of opacity and why? Then look into ways to decrease it. If you’re 90% opaque, something as simple as starting a blog to give your customers a little insight into your operations will help. Or, if you’re 25%, you might want to look into offering beta versions of your product or holding customer Q & A sessions.

Looking over things, Adjacent Concepts is 10% opaque. We disclose everything we do beyond some future business ideas and financing. Is that ok? I think so. We want to give ourselves a little time to develop our products and beta test them. Also, that little bit of opacity keeps our target audience wondering what they are missing.

So, what’s your opacity?

Written on June 01, 2010 by Kevin

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