open information means better outcomes

In the last couple of organisations I’ve worked for, the flow of information to a team has always correlated to perceived seniority.  Starting as a “developer” and not a “senior developer” or a “team lead” means that people’s access to information is restricted.  This hasn’t always been an active decision, it’s just happened because people decide to cut the sphere of information down to people they think are relevant.

Unfortunately, titles don’t always match the people who are most passionate about an idea or a problem.  If information flows are restricted, a new employee’s ability to learn about – and potentially change – an organisation is severely limited.  Conversely, if a problem or topic is universally acknowledged, then those who are keen to solve it will be at the forefront of ideas and discussions.  You get a limited amount of time to harness a new starter’s energy and observations on how your company can improve before they start blending in with everyone. It’s hugely valuable; don’t waste that opportunity!

At a previous company, 7digital, twice a week the entire development team would get together to discuss general development issues. It really levelled the playing field, and titles became irrelevant; people weren’t afraid to bring up concerns, ideas were debated on merit, and participation was totally up to individuals. You could tell who was passionate about any given topic pretty easily. Conversely, if you weren’t interested in the topic, you didn’t go to the discussions.

If you’re going to hire “smart and gets things done” people, open up access to information and give them the ability to execute.  The effect on teams and people when they feel empowered is a fantastic thing to be part of.