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On my way to work, Ep 2 – Why I believe in open cultures

For this second instalment, I explain why I believe in open cultures. It turns out that rather than simply being insane, I actually have a rationale for this belief. Three reasons, in fact.

Sorry about the volume – it’s a bit loud! Will try and put the mic slightly further next time.

Summary:

  • Why is this worth asking? Because you should always understand where your beliefs come from? Where did you get the data? Are the people who gave you that data biased?
  • I can see three main angles/reasons:
  • First one is internal, inside of me: I believe that we should treat each other in this way, with respect, as adults, allowing each other to have responsibility. I fundamentally believe that transparency is a better way of operating than secrecy. I believe this goal is valid in and of itself, regardless of the practical considerations.
  • Secondly: evidence from other businesses. Some people react to open culture concepts with enthusiasm, some with skepticism. Some feel that it just won’t scale, we’ll have to stop at some point. There is, however, a fair amount of evidence of companies that are much larger than GrantTree, operating with open principles: AES, Semco, Valve, Github, Zappos, MorningStar, Buurtzorg, Medium…
  • These businesses are in all sorts of different fields, all sorts of different sizes, implementing open organisations at scale. So feedback that “it just won’t work” can’t be taken at face value.
  • Thirdly: GrantTree itself! I can see what this open culture thing does to people around me. I can see that the continued focus on transparency has had a massive, positive, transformative effect on GrantTree’s culture. It’s kept things moving, progressing all the time, never too static. That’s enabled people to be happier. I can see that for myself, first-hand.
  • With these three angles, you can see where my belief in open cultures comes from: internal belief, external, indirect evidence, and external, direct evidence.

On my way to work, Ep 1 – Huddles

So I thought I might have a go at recording a kind of videocast on my way to work. Let’s call it “On my way to work”, for now1.

The production quality is obviously fairly awful, though the lapel mic seems to be doing a relatively decent job considering the enormous amounts of noise on my current route to work2.

Anyway, the point of this is just to share some thoughts about GrantTree‘s open culture, including features like respect for people and the advice process (and perhaps other topics of interest, like investing), but perhaps in less detail (due to the extreme time constrains: a few minutes a pop). That’s right: with this videocast, you can rely on the broadcast being very short, since I’m lucky enough to live not all that far from work! Let’s see how it goes.

So this is the first one! Enjoy!

If you have any comments and/or thoughts, feel free to let me know by email, on Twitter, or even (shock, horror) in the Youtube comments…

Summary:

  • Today the topic is “huddles”.
  • A huddle is a company-wide meeting where we discuss issues that need input from everybody, a good touch base point for everybody.
  • The idea came from someone on the team last summer (bottom-up) but has persisted for over a year.
  • Huddles happen pretty much every week.
  • Even without an agenda, something of value tends to happen. But it helps to keep things on topic, particularly as the team grows.
  • When someone brings up something that is only of interest to 2-3 people, the discussion should be parked – unless it’s something where everyone needs to be aware of what’s going on.
  • By now, everyone seems to support the huddles and see the value in it, even though it’s a 9am meeting!
  • We put this process in place back when there were 8 people or so in the team, and we noticed there were gaps in what was communicated to the company.
  • The huddle is a kind of addition to company-wide emails, since many people don’t read emails in detail, and emails aren’t interactive.
  • Will this work when there’s 50 of us? We’ll see! Maybe we won’t even have a centralised office by then!

  1. A quick google doesn’t show up any popular results under that title, though I’m sure they exist, it’s not that original!

  2. Worry not, I’m moving this weekend – my new route will be both shorter and quieter!

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