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Let’s talk: Transparency!

Let’s talk: Transparency!

This post is also available in Swedish: Låt oss prata transparens!

So, what is transparency?
If you search for the definition of Transparency you may find the following:

  • See-through, clear piece of acetate used for projecting data, diagrams and text onto a screen with an overhead projector.
  • Lack of hidden agendas and conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making.
  • Minimum degree of disclosure to which agreements, dealings, practices and transactions are open to everyone for verification.
  • Essential condition for a free and open exchange whereby the rules and reasons behind regulatory measures are fair and clear to all participants.

Melting acetates
Just before I begin I would like to make a short comment about no 1. Anyone remember when you used acetates for presentations and all writing and drawing were done by hand with a non-erasable felt pen? If you did something wrong, you had to redo everything. It was a big leap forward when you could use a software to do the drawing and print the acetates. However, if you used the wrong kind of acetate in your printer it melted… Today’s Power Point and other presentation tools have made life so much easier. But, also created a sort of Power Point Bonanza.

How to define
Transparency have become a buzz word in many companies and organisations and is used in their communication strategy and as a competitive advantage.
To define and understand transparency I believe you can have different starting points. One is that everything starts with yourself. Meaning, if you stay true to yourself and keep your core values without compromising, people will see you for what you are. If you could transform this to your business, you will increase the chance that both your staff and your costumers feels a connection to you and your organisation. If you succeed, you will create an ecosystem around you of people that understand and share your values. Which in turn will be a fantastic opportunity to catch gigantic business opportunities. People will see you as trustworthy and a win-win situation will present itself where you help people to achieve what they want, and they help you achieve your goals. What goes around comes around.

Get yourself transparent
The next question then becomes; How do you achieve transparency for yourself? A popular method is to define personality types, usually done in a four-field diagram, where red, yellow, blue or green is used to represent each personality type. Sometimes the representation uses animals and an epithet is attached to each type; Driver, Expressive, Analytic or Amiable. That’s all fine if you do not get stuck thinking that you are that one dimensional as a person. In fact, I would say you are a mix of all types depending on the context you are in. As an example, I am a red person (driver) and in my previous professional life I had a boss that was so red (the darkest red you can image) and in the presence of that person I felt like I turned into a green personality. A very confusing experience.
One of these four fielders that I like is the Johari window. The model was created in the mid-1950s by the two psychologists Joe Luft and Harrington Ingham and the name ‘Johari’ is a combination of their first names.
The model describes four areas;

  • what is known to yourself (and what people knows about you)
  • what is not known to yourself (but what people know about you)
  • what I know about myself (but is not known to others)
  • what is not known to myself (and what is not known to others)

The four fields are called Arena, Blind spot, Façade and Unknown and vary in size for each individual and in any given situation. One goal is to reduce the size of the Blind and Unknown areas which will result in an increased self-awareness. Because of an increased Arena people around you will more easily understand what want and think. They no longer must guess.

Different kinds of transparency
One interesting example of transparency is Apple’s new HQ which has glass pods inside with full transparency for all employees (rumour says that people are walking into the glass walls). So, full transparency on the inside but if you try to get some insight into the organisation from the outside it is very difficult. It is literally an inward-looking building without any transparency from the outside and it is also how you experience the organisation.
Another way of looking at transparency is how you share information within your organisation. If we look at how we treat transparency in our organisation, we disclose our full economic situation each week together with all sales, product development and all other activities. We also have regular workshops where we discuss the next step in the organisation’s strategy and vison and involve everyone in the process. We combine this with a Kanban Board where we track progress gives us that win-win situation mentioned earlier where everyone in the organisation knows where we are going and how they can contribute. Creating clarity, namely transparency.
I believe that organisational transparency creates trust among stakeholders, informs decision making and fosters greater participation. It is like if you have no gas in your car, faking your gas gauge won’t make the car run longer.

Me, crystal clear?!
I am Red (with a splash of Yellow), Driver, Instigator and can cope with analytical and expressive personalities and have the biggest challenges with Amiable or Green people. In MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) I’m an INTP so as an introvert I get energy from myself. Triathlon training is perfect for me and going to social events just drains my energy. I (try to) solve problems using logic and always looks to the future. Furthermore I like to live spontaneously without much planning. So, there you have me!

This month book tip: The five dysfunctions of a team: a leadership fable by Patrick Lencioni. The book describes the journey of creating a well functional team with all the problems and pitfalls you encounter. Buy it here on Adlibris or on Amazon
As usual you can reach me at marco.skrinjar@geometrasoftware.com