July 14, 2014

Balancing Transparency

There is a gentle balance between total transparency and 'black box mentality." 

TRANSPARENCY - Everything you know is known to the customer. This is sometimes called a "data dump." By being transparent with our customers, we enable trust, foster communication, and build customer loyalty. All good things. 

BLACK BOX MENTALITY - Information is "delegated to and controlled by someone else, and left unobserved until the final deliverable." This is described in more detail here. 

Transparency is generally considered good, while black box is considered bad. My take is a bit different. When hiring a professional, we need to let them do their work. When I go to the doctor, I don't ask to be there when the blood analysis is done by the blood technician, because I might want to do it myself later. 
  • My point is that transparency has been used, at times, in the hope of learning the 'secret sauce,' thus eliminating the professional specialist, and the costs therein. 
  • This discounts the time and effort the professional has invested to learn the solution to the problem, and how to accomplish it in the most effective manner. 
  • Even if a 'data dump' was possible, it will be not be complete. Processes and methodologies will be learned incorrectly. 
  • Data dumps usually require, to be effective, a lot of documentation that is never repeatable and scalable for the professional. 
As a customer, it is important to communicate what the expectations are, as a service provider we must also set expectations. Service providers, read my blog about the process of setting expectations. Setting expectations involves early communication, thoughtful negotiation, and mutual benefit to both sides of the negotiation. 

What is the best balance? 
  • If you have hired a consultant, let them do their work. Demand communication, assist in setting expectations (early in the process), and understand that the service provider is in business to make money. 
  • If you really want to learn the process in detail - state that early, and be prepared for the provider to walk away (that is what my doctor said when I asked to learn how to do surgery). 
  • Be a good partner. Provide clear information early (see expectations above). Do your part (on time).

David Haynes, NCARB, PMP, LEED AP
Ideate Director of Consulting

David is a Registered Architect, Project Management Certified Professional, who previously had his own architectural practice and was President of a commercial design-build construction company for 15 years. A graduate of University of Arizona, he has worked as an Architect, contractor, developer and as a national construction manager for a national retailer. David currently provides business process analysis, virtualization and change management solutions for AEC clients across the United States involved in the design and building industry. Follow David on Twitter: @dhaynestech 

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This post was originally published on David’s blog Connecting the [Data]…