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Effects of too much Transparency

Updated: Apr 14

“Transparency is not the same as looking straight through a building; it’s not just a physical idea, it’s also an intellectual one.”

Agile permits and encourages transparency in the organization. It’s a good thing to have transparency in the organization and teams. Transparency is considered as one of the pillars of agile along with inspecting and adapting. We have seen that transparency has provided various benefits to organizations and teams. How transparency in agile builds trust, eliminates barriers in innovation, provides clear eye leadership, and good communication, and develops a feeling of being one in the team. But what if the transparency is excess? Is it alright to have excess transparency from the product owner, scrum masters in a team? Will it provide benefits or create any drawbacks for the team?

“Excess of excess anything is worst; even if it is best otherwise.”

Similarly, excess transparency can also bring some bad with it. Today, we will see how the excess transparency by the product owner or scrum master can affect the team in a negative way.

It may create Blaming Culture

In most cases where excess transparency is imposed on team members, we observe that the blame culture has taken its head up. Excess transparency brings unwanted facts to the surface. These surfaced facts are given so much focus that the main point of finding the reason for the issue is neglected and discussion on what the mistake was and who made the mistake takes all the time. In long run this ‘what’ and ‘who’ creates such effect that the blaming culture is created in the team neglecting to derive the solution on the issue.

It Increases Distrust

Even though this seems a paradox, as most time transparency is linked with creating trust within the team but with excess transparency distrust is created within team members. For example, whenever, any scrum master, agile coach, or product owner keeps an eye on your every step will you feel trusted? No, if product owners or agile coaches only ask for the required updates or information any team member will be okay and understand the requirement of limited transparency but this excess lookout will create a feeling of distrust in them towards an organization.

It Increases Cheating Tendency

When complete information is provided it gives a feeling in team members or employees that it’s okay to do a little bit of cheating. Because they think that as an organization knows everything they can get away with small cheating. When the other party is provided with information all about your interest they think you have to police their behavior. This tendency brings a cheating attitude in employees. For example, when you provide information on bonus criteria that the maximum internship required availing bonus is 5 they try to meet the criteria and provide one or two fake internships for availing the bonus.

It may Create Resistance

When excessive transparency is forced on the employees and team members they tend to resist the change. For example, if a meeting is held in a transparent room and asked everyone to contribute new ideas you will observe that very fewer people open up with the ideas and even the fewer ideas are more creative. This extra transparency will create oppression in them of watched by lot many people. Because of this they will resist the idea and try to go with the original way.

Ways of Transparency

Quantitative and Qualitative Transparency

The metrics at which the transparency is calculated may involve many of them as a team member transparency check it may involve:

  • Work hours

  • Velocity

  • Number of per person story point

  • Number of defects made and fixed

  • Burndown charts and many more

Among these, some will be useful some not. This data can be divided into quantitative and qualitative types. This also involves the decision made and conversation or discussion held in team etc.

Internal and External Transparency

With the quantity and quality, you are sharing the data it is also important to know with whom to share what. The data you are sharing is to the persons inside the team like team members or outside the teams like other teams or stakeholders.

How to Keep Transparency

With the below chart, we will give a quick idea of what to share and with whom.

We are not saying to avoid transparency in the team or organization as it is an important aspect in agile but we must know what to share and when and where to share is also important in businesses because “balance is key to success.”

About Advance Agility

We, at Advance Agility, are the new-age Agile Coaching, Consulting and IT services company. We enable end-to-end Digital Transformation. Agile execution is integral to our being. We are doing SAFe implementation with small, medium and large organization across the globe. Our vision is to be the leading Agile execution player globally. To keep adding value at every process stage. We are on a mission to empower our clients, move from concept to cash in the shortest sustainable lead time by adopting human centric approach to business agility. Embracing the change is in our DNA. Things that keep us apart are Quicker and Seamless execution with End-to-end gamut of services. Our Global presence and Stellar Track Record give us an edge over our competitor.

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