Definition: Radical Transparency

Radical Transparency

Radical transparency is a phrase used across fields of governance, politics, software design and business to describe actions and approaches that radically increase the openness of organizational process and data. Also used for showing the internal workings of a product, service, or organization that are usually hidden from view, when applied even more innovatively than just within an organization.


The examples of radical transparency, when you can find it, are really refreshing and innovative for how things can be done within an organization! In an equally innovative way, the 99% Invisible podcast below talks about how the transparency was used to let customers/users fully look into the operations of something so they can appreciate what goes into it rather than oversimplifying it and not appreciating it. The best example, for me, was how the operators of the shinkansen high speed bullet trains in Japan let riders see the amazing work done by the cleaning crews in seven minutes between rides, turning it into a spectacle of theatrical wonder, rather than hiding it all and getting angry and impatient riders wondering why they have to wait “so long” to get on to the trains between rides! See video at bottom. Brilliant!


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