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Radical transparency

Radical transparency is a management method where nearly all decision making is carried out publicly.

All draft documents, all arguments for and against a proposal, the decisions about the decision making process itself, and all final decisions, are made publicly and remain publicly archived.

The only exceptions to full transparency include data related to personal security or passwords or keys necessary for physical access required to carry out publicly negotiated decisions. Any technical actions which are perceived to be controversial or political are considered to lack legitimacy until a clear, radically transparent decision has been made concerning them.

This method has been implemented in the Wikipedia itself, in the Indymedia network [1], and in many similar Internet related projects. It could arguably be claimed to exist outside of the Internet in small cohesive social groups where information is rapidly exchanged and difficult to conceal, although the cumulative transmission error of oral communication of information in these communities leads to less transparency than digital communication.

radical transparency vs accountability

Radical transparency is much more transparent than accountability. It requires decision making to be transparent right from the beginning of the decision making process, while accountability is a process of verifying the quality of decisions or actions after they have been taken. This difference implies that while accountability generally implements some sort of punishment mechanism against individuals or institutions judged to have taken poor quality decisions or actions, after those decisions have been taken or actions carried out, radical transparency encourages corrections and improvements to decisions to be made long before poor quality decisions have the chance to be enacted. Hence, radical transparency potentially helps avoid the need for punishment mechanisms.

The potential of radical transparency to allow corrections and improvements to decision making is likely to be higher when the decision making method is either a consensus decision making method or a democratic decision making method. However, even when the decision making method is authoritarian (unilateral), radical transparency may still encourage the decision maker to make better decisions.