You know about invisibility. You’ve seen it (or not seen it) in movies where the good guy (or maybe the bad guy) has the supernatural ability to become invisible. And everyone has wished they could be invisible at some point in time – so they could escape school bullying for example. What a relief, and what an advantage – those big, bad boys couldn’t touch you.
Transparency is a bit different. You can see through something transparent – like glass or water. The thing is still there, but it has no color of its own, and you can see what is behind it. Transparent objects are usually not of much interest to the eye.
Relating these two terms to social or business situations is not a big mental challenge. Social and business invisibility could give you huge advantage over your competitors, and all the people you interact with. You could surprise them, seemingly from out of nowhere. (Of course, if everyone were invisible, interactions would be impossible – no one could see anyone else.)
Transparency, on the other hand, has become a buzz word. In its social aspect, it means you are showing everything you’ve got – not hiding anything. This automatically makes you vulnerable. In the long run, transparent individuals or groups can have mutually beneficial interactions only with other transparent individuals or groups (take, for example, nudists).
In our modern times, where we have instant communication and access to information, invisibility is becoming very difficult to achieve. More and more people have information we’re willing to share, as well as a lot we would rather keep to ourselves.
Transparency inevitably leads to inequality. If everyone knows where the best prices are, everyone will shop there – which leads to the “winner-takes-all” effect.
Transparency is not full, you know. That is why the modern business trade-off is to be very transparent about your customer relationships and hide deeply how you actually make a profit. How are Google, Facebook, Nestle, all the TV channels, banks, etc., making profits? They give you constant info: how low their prices are, what kinds of green initiatives they’ve adopted and so on – but you have no idea how they use your data, what ingredients they use, or how much interest you’re actually paying. Do not be fooled by this semi-transparency.
We cannot increase our commonwealth if we do not cooperate. We cannot cooperate if we do not trust each other. Sustainable trust is built on mutual transparency.
From an accounting perspective, complex transactions mislead your sense and common logic.
Do you know who the best financial-logic manipulator is? Yes, it is your banker. And probably your financial consultant, too. These annoying people mislead you when you borrow funds. You buy an apartment with a mortgage loan; then you begin to pay monthly installments – only $699 a month – not knowing that the period is 35 years and you will have to pay $84,000 in interest!
Ultimately, thinking in cash flows alone leads to now-focusing, and makes us forget about the interest.
Now let’s see how big numbers can deceive our good sense and hide important facts…