WWGD? brought to life

There’s little I love more these days than seeing people bring the precepts of What Would Google Do? into their realms. I just hope I’m right and don’t lead them astray.

Here‘s a post by Arild Nybø Førde, a Norwegian entrepreneur who wonders whether he’s better off being transparent about his business idea, weighing the input he’d get against the risk of someone taking is idea:

Why keep secrets?”, Jarvis asks, and he rephrases: “Why keep more secrets than you have to?” The most common answer is of course that we don’t want our potential competitors to steal the ideas. That would also be my answer.

But is the risk of being lifted for ideas greater than the risk of failing by not being transparent? If asked myself this question, and after some consideration my answer is “No”. . . .

OK, so having great ideas is not my biggest challenge right now. It’s the ability to evaluate them, and then realize them, which will be my greatest struggle in the months and years to come.

So, how can being transparent help the ability to realize the ideas? . . .

Right now I’m alone with my ideas. I don’t have any employees yet. . . .

Therefore, I guess, the best way to get my ideas analyzed and criticized, is to let them out in the open. And what is more open than the World Wide Web?

In addition to getting feedback to my ideas, through blogs and social media, laying them out publically will also kick my butt. As long as I write in my blog, or state in an interview, that I’m going to do this and that, I make a commitment to my readers. . . . And if I don’t fulfill my commitments, I can’t be trusted, and my business will fail.

That’s why I’ll risk it. From now on I’ll be transparent and reveal more and more of my strategy in this blog.

And then there’s this exec, writing under the name Oz, talking about how cable should be run today:

If I were running the cable company I would do pricing and product offering differently. Transparency and simplification will be a core objective. Reducing the barrier to taking on new clients/customer will be at the fore of every decision and Internet copy that is produced. Borrowing from Jeff Jarvis in What Would Google Do? Simplify or die. This should be a pillar of running any business in the age of the web. Firms should no longer seek to profit from cordoning off a section of the market hoping that the black box of disinformation which they have built will not be found out and exposed.

I am sure some analysts will be quick to suggest that this disinformation that I speak of is a cash cow. Meaning that this firms make money from their ability to coax new clients into paying more than they usually should. To me, this is an old world way of thinking, information wants to and will be free, any business model built on erecting barriers to information will eventually fail. This idea may have served the firms well in the past but with many more firms, channels and platforms competing for my attention, it is a strategy headed for disaster.
Competition will blindside these firms. Any firm with a good enough service that chooses to be transparent and simple will win. I would be the first to line up at their door.

PS: This applies to all firms in all industries.

Yesterday, I had lunch with a reporter-friend who can’t advise companies because he’s a reporter; he can only soak in, and not bounce back. But I said that I’ve learned so much talking with companies – in person or on this blog – to learn their problems and their opportunities as they try to reinvent themselves – as the good ones are – for our new reality. It gives me the chance to test my ideas and observations against their reality and there’s nothing more valuable than that. As Arild said above, transparency and interaction are what enable analysis, criticism, challenges, and improvements.