The link between transparency and trust is well known. You are more likely to trust the quality of the food you are served when eating at a restaurant with an open concept kitchen than if the food preparation is done entirely out of sight.

Transparency is a pillar of the Scrum framework and while it is not explicitly spelled out by other frameworks or in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, it is indirectly referenced. When I teach classes in agile fundamentals, I often say that a virtuous cycle commences when greater transparency builds increased trust in the team by senior stakeholders. This in turn leads to greater support from those stakeholders for team self-organization and empowerment which reinforces the team’s willingness to be more transparent.

But will transparency do more than just build trust?

I had a follow-up appointment with a medical specialist this week. It was scheduled for 4 PM and shortly after that time I was escorted to the examination room by a nurse who told me that she’d let the doctor know that I was there. I waited (and waited, and waited). At 5 PM, I got tired of sitting on the examination bed and stood in the doorway looking out. A few nurses saw me, but no one stopped by to ask why I was not waiting patiently in the room. Finally, at 5:15 PM, the doctor came into the room. No apology was offered for her tardiness but she did complain that she has no control over her normal schedule on days when patients needing urgent medical attention show up.

My demeanor was externally pleasant but internally I was seething.

I have no issues with a delay resulting from a medical triage process. What frustrated me was my complete lack of knowledge of where I was in the queue or any idea as to when I would eventually be examined.

I don’t expect that my doctor would have had the time or inclination to stick her head in my room to update me once or twice over the hour and a quarter I was waiting, but the nurse who had brought me there could have set my expectations appropriately. The clinic could have posted a simple information radiator showing the number of consults waiting for each specialist to help manage patient expectations. Better still, they could have implemented a simple online site to make this information available remotely which would have enabled me to show up close to the actual time when I would be examined.

Increased transparency would have increased customer satisfaction.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou






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