A Note on Transparency
InfoQ posted the London 2008 QCon panel on the topic Transparency: A Great Leap Forward or Exposed Artery? The question addressed by this panel is summarized as follows:
Agile propagandists make great claims about the advantages of being transparent about the state of their projects. They claim that this how mature relationships work and that “Honesty is the best policy”. But is this true? Many of us work in dysfunctional organisations where honesty is the best way to get cheated. Surely Transparency is just not pragmatic?
Quite a few interesting facets are highlighted in the discourse between the audience and panelists Kent Beck, Keith Braithwaite, Steve Freeman, Chris Matts and John Nolan. For example:
- The power of the simple statement “It is what it is.”
- Is the issue deeper than “just” transparency? For example, is it a matter of values?
- The harsh reality in the trenches that revolves around transparency. Meaningless statements like “I need it for SOX compliance” have been known to be made.
- How does one induce organizational change to improve transparency? In particular, how does one do so amidst organizational dysfunction?
I would add one observation to the numerous good points made by the panelists. Ultimately, the most critical form of transparency is with respect to the user. There is no substitute to his/her feedback on an on-going basis. If you need to address transparency as part of your Agile roll-out or evolution, start with transparency to the user. It can be as simple as making the arrangements for some real customers to attend your release planning and bi-weekly demos.