The Importance of Honesty

Many large companies are beginning to realise the importance of honesty and openness.
McDonalds was not too long ago, screening ads that told us that they’re apple pies really do use Granny Smith apples…
Microsoft has been screening interviews with all their developers, explaining how their new software works, why they made the decisions they did etc. Who cares right? While this may appear to be desperation for loss of sales, it speaks to how people perceive large companies, and how people are starting to root for the underdog and distrust anything massively successful. Open Source code applications appeal to this honesty, "there really is nothing evil about the way we do things".  I got to thinking about the importance of this not just for large companies, but even small ones like mine. We are holding a training conference in Bangkok at the end of September, and I wrote my content in a completely open and (somewhat brutally) honest way about what we’ve done in our software and why we did the things we did.  Most of this got passed and will be in, but there were a couple of minor items that were left out.
It got me wondering about the impact of honesty on a company, should you tell your clients the hard truth, tell them your faults along with your pluses and trust them to rise above the issues? I heard from a friend that worked at a major car manufacturer, that some of their some of their faults never got recalled if the cost of a recall was cheaper than the cost of a law suit in the event of failure. What will it take for some of these large companies to realise that concealing the truth from consumers could be 10 times more devestating to their company than a couple of major law suits, let alone the cost of a recall.
We are about to deploy the latest version of our software and very nearly came close to having to pull one of the features due to an oversight in the testing process. All was saved at the 11th hour, but it left me wondering if we hadn’t fixed the issue and just covered it up, and someone discovered the issue, what would be worse.. the issue, or the fact that we didn’t warn anyone, or hold back the deployment instead of saving face?
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