Transparency habits

January 8, 2015 § 2 Comments

I have always tried to be as transparent as possible in work that I do at Mozilla. Why? I truly believe that thinking and working in the open gets better results. It gets more people engaged. It gives you access to more ideas and perspectives. And, ultimately, it leads to better thinking and better work. Working in the open is core to both who I am — and who Mozilla is.

Over the past year, I feel like I’ve become less good at this. I’m spending more time in Google Docs and video conferences. I’m spending less time blogging, working on wikis and participating in public calls and forums. On some level, this is just a change in what tools I use. But, on another, it’s a switch in my habits. The result is I have less of a transparency habit overall — and it’s harder for people to see what I am (and we are) working on.

As 2015 gets rolling, I want to change this. I want to get back in the groove with my transparency habits. I’m challenging myself to:

  1. Blog more, especially about our plans and progress.
  2. Tweet about what I’m working on so people who are interested can see what I’m focused on in any given week.
  3. Put key documents I’m working on on a central wiki for the project in question so that people can always find them and track them.
  4. Start reading Planet Mozilla and Planet Webmaker again so that I have a better sense of what others are doing.
  5. Do more work on public calls and public forums, and less on closed video calls.

These sound like small things — and in many ways they are. But these little habits can make a real difference in terms of getting people engaged and involved in what we’re doing. As we think about a more radical approach to participation at Mozilla, that’s important. And worth working on.

I encourage everyone at Mozilla to ask themselves: how can we all build up our transparency habits in 2015? If you already have good habits, how can you help others? If, like me, you’re a bit rusty, what small things can you do to make your work more open?

PS. Huge thanks to Humph for his Video Killed the Radio Star post late last year, which is one of the things that inspired me to work on better habits in 2015.

§ 2 Responses to Transparency habits

  • karl says:

    >I encourage everyone at Mozilla to ask themselves: how can we all build up our transparency habits in 2015? If you already have good habits, how can you help others? If, like me, you’re a bit rusty, what small things can you do to make your work more open?

    The mistake we often do with transparency is that we think it is obvious for most people. But working in a transparent way requires a lot of education and mentoring. It’s one thing we should try to improve at Mozilla when onboarding new employees. Teaching what it means to be transparent. I’m not even sure everyone has the same notion of what transparency means already.

    For example, too many times, I receive emails in private. That’s unfortunate because it creates information silos and it becomes a lot harder to open up a conversation which started in private. Because I was kind of tired of this, I created a set of slides and explanation for learning how to work with emails. Available in French and English.

    English version:

    Some people are afraid of working in the open for many reasons. They may come from a company where secrecy was very strong, or they had bad experience by being too open. It takes then time to re-learn the benefits of working in the open.

    So because you asked an open question 🙂 Some items.

    * Each time you sent an email, it probably belongs to a project. Send the email to the person (To: field) and always add in copy the relevant mailing list (Cc: field). You’ll get an archive, URL pointer for the future, etc.

    * Each time you are explaining something (such as a process, an howto, etc) to someone, make it a blog post, then send this URL to this someone. It will benefit more people on the long term.

    * Each time, you’re having a meeting, choose **one** scribe and scribe down this meeting and publish the minutes of the meetings. There are many techniques associated to these.
    See for example:
    and the index (I could explain how we manage that in a blog post).

    * Each time you have a F2F meeting with someone or a group, take notes and publish these notes online to a stable URI. It will help other people to participate.

  • Larissa says:

    These are great reminders and the comments are great too. I just wanted to share one of my favorite blog posts about this issue: with you and anyone else reading along… scroll down to the part about “active vs passive transparency” and the part about proactive decision process.

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