Transparency has become very important whether it is in terms of accounting requirements following in the wake of scandals such as Enron or, at the other end of the scale, the ability for customers to know what is going on with an enquiry or order.

Despite all of the press about how we need to do business in a more transparent way, interestingly it is seemingly this fear of transparency that that I often come up against when talking about the use of blogs within a corporate environment, whatever the size of the business.

Even when considering internally focused blogs, for example for team communications or as an alternative to an intranet, there is sometimes clearly a fear that the open dissemination of information that the blog will provide will somehow weaken a managers position. A throwback to the old version of the mantra that “knowledge is power”.

However, when we look at the possibility of using a Business Blog to open a company up and make it better able to interact with clients, suppliers and partners, then you can get a real look of panic crossing their faces. In most cases, it is not that they have anything to hide, it is simply the fear of the unknown but that is just the point! If the opinions and requirements of these important groups are unknown, then that is something to be afraid of as you have no chance of knowing what they really want or, by implication, delivering it.

I tend to compare going through this process to crossing a rope bridge over a ravine:

    - it’s scary to look at before you cross as all the things that you think could go wrong flashes through your mind;

    - it is quite tense as you are crossing as you take every step with care, but you gain confidence as you cross as you realize your worries were unfounded;

    - and, there is a real sense of release and achievement when you get to the other side and you realise what youve achieved.

Then of course, you wonder why you were worrying about it at all and generally you want to do it again!

Gaining trust is critical in today’s business environment and being transparent and open with the people that your company is dealing with is a big step towards achieving that.

The idea of knowledge is power is changing. No longer is it the knowledge and information that you keep to yourself that provides the power, but rather the knowledge that you share. In the same way, as you open yourself up to receive feedback from your marketplace, the information and the knowledge that this provides is also power, the power to provide them with what they really want rather than what you think they want.

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