Posted May 22, 2008 11:01 am by with 7 comments

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Whenever I discuss being Radically Transparent, I refer to my “Three Simple Words” approach to remembering how to react to a reputation crisis.

Sincerity, Transparency, and Consistency (see bottom of post for full explanation). Today, I found that the guys over at Twitter are well on their way to following this approach. After suffering, what feels like, daily downtime, the Twitter team posted an open and honest explanation.


Thanks for your patience during these current frustrations (and those to come) as we figure out how to work the kinks out. Thanks also for speaking up: we’re listening.


We’ve gone through our various databases, caches, web servers, daemons, and despite some increased traffic activity across the board, all systems are running nominally. The truth is we’re not sure what’s happening. It seems to be occurring in-between these parts.



OK, so Twitter needs to work on the Consistency part. It’s one thing to be sincere and open about the issues you are facing, but if Twitter continues to suffer outages, users will leave the service. What Twitter needs to do now is take that $15 million in new funding and focus it all on making the service stable. Only when it’s working flawlessly can the company even contemplate how to monetize it.

Postscript: Here’s my full definition of Sincerity, Transparency, and Consistency.

  • Sincerity. If you’re called out for your past practices, simply saying “sorry” is not enough, if you’ve not changed the associated behavior. While you may appease one critic, many others will be standing by. And, should you continue to make the same mistakes, your critics will feel duped by your false apology and likely attack with greater fervor.
  • Transparency. Once you’ve realized the error of your ways and decided to make a change for the better, you’ll need to admit your mistakes and demonstrate why your critics should believe you have changed. Whether it’s an open letter to your customers, an interview with your critics, or your own company blog post, it’s important to be open and honest about your mistakes and future plans.
  • Consistency. If you’ve made just one screw-up, chances are you’ll be able to make amends with just one single action. However, if your company has built a reputation for one mistake after another, it will take a lot more to convince your detractors that you have changed your spots. Your sincerity and transparency will buy you a reprieve and some breathing-room, but it’s your consistency in your future actions that will change the ongoing perception of your critics.