The Core Conversation Julie Gomoll and I are hosting this Saturday at South by Southwest Interactive:
Transparent Business: How Much is Too Much?
Doing coworking and social networking for biz? Let's discuss the line between authenticity and too much information (TMI).
Because Firecat hosts coworking sessions, I've become keenly aware that by inviting other business owners and freelancers into our space -- including other owners of interactive design firms -- I'm letting them see our deliverables, our clients, our talent pool.
I've always enjoyed sharing info, and believe that information wants to be free. I once presented an industry panel on "Design Deliverables - You Show Me Yours and I'll Show You Mine." Very few brave souls brought theirs to share, but the session itself was packed with folks eager to see other people's. I asked a few afterward why they didn't bring theirs. Some said they were prevented from sharing by company policy. One guy owned up that he didn't want to lose any competitive advantage he has.
Here's the thing about that: Anyone who is patterning off my deliverables is already behind me, right? Aren't they in my rear-view mirror?
So, I'm happy to share our ideas, philosophies and deliverables. Our talent is freelance, so offer them more money and more interesting projects; they'll be glad to hear from you. The financials will stay locked away; one of the lines we'll be discussing at Saturday's session is, you shouldn't be transparent with everything, and financial, legal, HR records represent agreements with others that shouldn't be violated.
Even though the prospect scares me a little, I believe I'll be a better businessperson, a better human being, by trying to be as transparent as it feels comfortable - and a little bit more.