Monday, August 30, 2010

Transparency & Crisis Prevention -- Advice from Eric Schmidt

After writing about crisis management lessons from recent events (PR Lessons from BP, Toyota & Goldman Sachs), I came across a column by Google CEO Eric Schmidt that ran in Forbes.

Schmidt's point: thanks to a 24- hours news cycle, secrecy isn't so easy to come by. (Most people talk about a 24-hour news cycle, but to be clear, we're not saying it takes 24 hours for news to hit; news hits hourly, if not faster.) That's not necessarily a bad thing.

According to Schmidt, the real question is:
"What are our choices when we, whether as individuals or businesses, get it wrong--sometimes badly wrong? We can try to conceal our blunders, as so many people have done for so many centuries. But in a world where everything is recorded and stored, that is not a realistic option.

"Nor should it be. For a company that aspires to true significance or an individual who wants to rise to prominence, the question is, "How should we behave?" The answer must be, "We did the best we could and did so transparently." In time this should move from a defense to an expected standard."

I think it's good that a business leader like Schmidt endorses transparency, and that it will help pursuade other companies of the need to embrace a new way to operate.

But I sometimes I wonder if the idea of business transparency is just another business fad. Perhaps social media's significant contribution will be to make transparency part of the standard operating proceedure for business.

You can read Schmidt's column here.

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