03: Work in the open

Working in the open builds trust, a prerequisite for high-performance teams. Working in the open turns bottom-to-top information funneling into autonomy-enabling information sharing. Working in the open keeps stakeholders and adjacent teams up to speed without asks and interruptions.

The theory

Everyone wants to build high-performing teams or be part of a high-performing team. One of the fundamental requirements of high performing teams is trust. You simply can’t get the former without the latter. How do you build trust amongst a group of people who don’t work together directly and might not ever meet face-to-face? By building a culture of transparency, where everyone works in the open.

Working in the open stops “what is that person/team even doing?” in its tracks, promotes natural accountability, builds empathy for other disciplines, and gives people clear venues to talk about the work they did and why they did it.

In most traditional organizations, information flows in one direction: up. The lower you sit in the hierarchy, the less information and context you have. Transparent organizations invert that model by giving everyone unfettered access to information, maximizing context and minimizing red tape, interruptions, and waiting for answers.

Information Funneling vs. Information Sharing

Building a transparent organization requires leadership, but you can’t lead if you can’t be seen. Leaders and managers working in the open serve as powerful role models for the behavior you want to see, building trust by constantly shining a light on their own questions, course-corrections, and decisions.

Further reading