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The Naked Corporation: How the Age of Transparency Will Revolutionize Business Hardcover – September 30, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
The idea behind the sexy title is that information technology, chiefly the Internet, puts corporate misbehavior on display as never before. Thanks to the Web, consumers can compare product info, disgruntled employees and whistleblowers can air dirty laundry and upload embarrassing documents, investors can get wind of financial shenanigans and activists of all stripes are able to publicize a company's environmental and social transgressions. When mobilized, these hawk-eyed "accountability webs" precipitate "vortex states" that send a company's reputation, and maybe its business, spiraling down the drain. To head off such PR catastrophes, the authors recommend a policy of "transparency," whereby companies disclose all possible information, a practice they feel boosts employee morale and performance, facilitates business partnerships, and helps responsible corporations attract socially conscious consumers and investors. Tapscott and Ticoll, authors of Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs, examine such obstacles to transparency as gene patenting and overextended copyrights, and discuss the misdeeds and controversies surrounding corporate megaliths like McDonalds and Coca-Cola. The book is really a restatement of the new "corporate sustainability vogue in management theory, which insists that social and environmental responsibility benefit the bottom line. The authors' sometimes turgid presentation, peppered with bewildering diagrams, gives it a New Economy gloss by invoking information theory, "network effects" and fulsome praise of knowledge workers and the Net Generation, for whom life is "an ongoing, massive multi-media research project." The premise, that the flow of information compels corporate accountability, is a dubious one; as the authors acknowledge, there was information aplenty about the problems at Enron and Worldcom, but these companies were never called to account until they went bankrupt. Still, high-minded executives will find much to enlighten and encourage them.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Malcolm Gladwell Author of The Tipping Point The Naked Corporation argues, beautifully and persuasively, that there is no contradiction between good business and the values of honesty and openness. This book belongs in the briefcase of every right-thinking manager in the country.
A. G. Lafley Chairman, President and Chief Executive, Procter & Gamble Don Tapscott and David Ticoll hit the bull's-eye with The Naked Corporation. The demand for openness and candor has never been greater. The Naked Corporation is a leadership tool kit for turning the relentless demand for transparency from threat to advantage.
Robert A. G. Monks Author of The New Global Investors, coauthor of Power and Accountability and Watching the Watchers Tapscott and Ticoll show, with abundant recent cogent examples, how concealment of truth is at the core of many corporate problems. Their solution is straightforward, clearly written, and compelling. You should read this book. More, you should buy it, as you will want to refer to it frequently.
Dr. Eric Schmidt Chairman and CEO, Google, Inc. They've done it again. Tapscott and Ticoll's capacity to combine a fresh and authentic perspective with real world data has once again opened the aperture on our emerging networked economy. A brilliant work.
Klaus Schwab Founder and President, World Economic Forum We need a corporate philosophy for the twenty-first century. Tapscott and Ticoll's book The Naked Corporation provides this -- not only the rationale for a transparent corporation but also the principles of leadership in an open world.
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On the Flight to Fremont, I read "The Naked Corporation - How the age of transparency will revolutionize business". You likely think I must have issues since I always read about "naked" (Like "Naked Conversations") but don't worry - its not like that. In this age of Search Engine Optimization, I wonder if the authors thought they might get more hits but that is another topic.
The Naked Corporation talks about the transparency needed in todays post Enron, post Worldcom environment. The basic thesis of the book is that this transparency is good. I agree. It talks about the benefits to the company for being transparent and how it saves money and builds support for the company.
If I have a counter view, it is not to transparency it is to Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) which attempts to legislate ethics and in doing so imparts a huge cost and overhead which ironically might hurt the very shareholders they seek to protect. In some cases, SOX is like buying a safe for $1000 to protect $500 worth of valuables.
The book actually did make the point that often companies are not transparent because the law requires them to complicate things. Just look at the filings and annual reports of many companies. Warren Buffet says "you should be able to understand the financial statements of a company in a few minutes".
One part of the book I found interesting was the story of poor ethics and no transparency at Chiquita Bananas. Fortunately, they have moved to high transparency and appear to have mended their ways. (Fortunate because I like bananas).
One quote which I love (and will use) is by Warren Buffet "If you lose dollars for the firm by bad decisions, I will be very understanding. If you lose reputation for the firm, I will be ruthless." I have believed for a long time the reputation is far more important than money. I like many of Warren Buffets' philosophies and in a article some years ago, EMJ was cited as being a perfect Warren Buffet company. I am not sure when it comes to ethics though that selling sugar water (Coke - on of Warren Buffets' companies) would count as good ethics. So as with everything, I need to filter what I like about someone from what I do not. Learn from the good.
qualities needed to run the corporations of tomorrow... Great book...
The various communications revolutions - computer, internet, email - now make it possible to disclose information to all relevant persons virtually without cost. We should insist that this be the guiding principle of corporation functioning - disclose, even those items where cost to the corporation in the form of tightened regulations may be involved. Long term value will be enhanced for corporations that can be trusted by the public - trusted to tell the full story short of judicial proceedings.
This book opens up a new and important aspect of modern life.