On transparency, education and pools


One man's transparency is another's humiliation.

–Gerry Adams

If Edward Snowden taught us anything, it's that transparency is a double-edged sword, particularly in furtive environments. While not quite at the same level as the NSA, many educational institutions have been criticized as antiquated and opaque.

Is this reputation earned or not? In some cases, sure. I will say this much: It may be harder to be angry with any institution if you know what's going on. (Of course, seeing the data might also make you angrier.)

At least some schools are allowing others into their kitchens, so to speak. For instance, consider the UT System Productivity Dashboard, a public portal providing an open view into performance across the system's 15 campuses and system administration. Anyone can explore UT’s data through its dashboard, including Texas employees, legislators, prospective and current students, alumni, the media and the public at large.

As Beth Schultz writes on AllAnalytics:

The UT System a big fact book in static, PDF format. The dynamic, centralized nature of the dashboard much more appropriately addresses the regents' data-orientation, says Stephanie Huie, vice chancellor, ad interim, for the UT System Office of Strategic Initiatives. "The regents, legislators, and constituents were asking tough questions. They really wanted to look at different aspects of the data, and they didn't want just one year. They might want to look at data over time, by gender, race, or ethnicity, for example."

Stewart Brand would be happy.

Simon Says: Get Wet

It's never been easier to make information available to the masses and, depending on your line of business, never more important. The rise of the Web, mobility and open data collectively mean we can access information in more places than ever.

What's driving this? The demand for information, the supply of it or some combination of the two? Ultimately, I have no idea. I'll let an academic try to sort that one out.

Brass tacks: Think about ways to be more transparent. No, you probably don't want to put sensitive information related to intellectual property out there. Customer lists are probably off of the table. However, ask yourself if your organization needs to keep all of its data behind closed walls. Think about the potential benefits of increased transparency. Dip your toe in the water and see if if you like how it feels.


What say you?


About Author

Phil Simon

Author, Speaker, and Professor

Phil Simon is a keynote speaker and recognized technology expert. He is the award-winning author of eight management books, most recently Analytics: The Agile Way. His ninth will be Slack For Dummies (April, 2020, Wiley) He consults organizations on matters related to strategy, data, analytics, and technology. His contributions have appeared in The Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, The New York Times, and many other sites. He teaches information systems and analytics at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business.

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