The distinction between privacy and transparency: October 2014 Harvard Business Review

In my volunteer work I encounter collisions between privacy and transparency. In this regard, I am conscientious in following the rules and expectations that are in place. Decisions related to the distinction are important for many good reasons.

An article in the October 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review addresses the topic with a level of observation, based on empirical research, that I found admirable.

On Page 60 of the October 2014 Harvard Business Review, which I purchased at Cloverdale Mall in Etobicoke, Ontario, Ethan Bernstein refers to four types of boundaries that are described as constituting a “sweet spot between privacy and transparency, getting the benefits of both.”

The four categories of boundaries, which “establish certain zones of privacy within open environments,” are outlined as follows:

Zones of attention

These are boundaries around individual teams.

They serve to “avoid exposing every little action to the scrutiny of a crowd.”

Zones of judgement

These involve boundaries between feedback and evaluation, and serve to “avoid politicking and efforts wasted on managing impressions.”

Zones of slack

These boundaries, which separate “decision rights and improvement rights,” serve to “avoid driving out tinkering.”

Zones of time

These are boundaries around defined periods of experimentation. They serve to “avoid both too frequent and too infrequent interruptions.”


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