12 ways to work open How "working out loud" increases clarity, speed and trust for your team

As a practise for smarter teamwork and collaboration, Openness is all about increasing our impact and getting more done — by making our work more transparent, agile and connected to the communities we serve. Here’s 12 principles for doing it. 

Netflix completes the open source giving cycle

Think big. Start small. Work open.

1 Think big. Have a mission, not just a bottom line. Tell a clear inspiring, story about why the world needs this work. That’s the magnet that attracts others.

2 Start small. Iterate. Start with the Minimum Lovable Product; what’s the least amount of work you can do quickly to prove the concept or build momentum?

3  Embrace transparency.  Think, plan and communicate in public. Increase transparency to cut collaboration cost, simplify communication and build trust. Work in open platforms like collaborative documents, wikis, blog posts and issue trackers. Minimize email, never-ending meetings and back-channel.

5 Test early and often. Share early drafts, prototypes and works in progress. If you’re not a little embarrassed by it, you’re probably waiting too long.

4 Share. Set big ideas free. Make it easy for others to remix, localize and improve your work. Empower them to do things you can’t even imagine yet. Give something away to get something larger back.

6 Serve communities. Instead of “markets” or masses. Engage them as active collaborators, not just passive consumers. Go deep with small numbers of real people, instead of prematurely chasing scale.

7 Focus. Do less. Have the courage to say no to good ideas so you can focus on great ones. Find the sweet spot where your passions, skills and resources all overlap. Ruthlessly eliminate clutter.

8 Be agile. Don’t try to plan too far in advance. Embrace continuous learning and ritualized reflection. Design a little, build a little, test a little; rinse and repeat. Stay open to what works.

9 Hack dumb rules. Take things apart. Route around gatekeepers, bullies and bottlenecks. Don’t ask permission. Embrace joyful insurrection.

10 Beware the bikeshed. Don’t get stuck in never-ending feedback loops. Not all feedback and opinions are useful. There’s no magic in “crowdsourcing” — crowds aren’t smart, communities of peers are.

11 Lead together. Push decision-making to the edges. Foster leadership everywhere. Strive for Minimum Viable Bureaucracy, permissionless innovation and Benevolent Do-ocracy.

12 Do good. Live and work our values. Take on Goliaths and gatekeepers. Use openness as a force multiplier for the forces of good. Build the world we want.

Hmmm… What’s missing?

This manifesto is just an early draft. Got ideas for improving the next iteration? Please dive in and make comments and suggestions.



  • I particularly like (quoting from above):

    * Sharing is good
    * Messy, Hasty Pluralism – we want to foster a culture of sharing and openness, everyone should share what they have, whether they think it’s ready or not. It doesn’t have to set the world on fire, it just has to work. This may require institutional and cultural change.
    * Support the Ecosystem

  • Something about doing things that benefit the entire space? e.g., Mozilla did stuff that was good for the entire web. WikiSpeed is doing stuff that awesome for the future of energy-efficient transportation. These are things that benefit people as a whole, and are also just kinda intuitively awesome…

  • Check your ego at the door
    This may be the most difficult rule but to truly get the best out of your team and yourself, you have to be able to listen, learn, let go and embrace what others bring to you.

  • CoLET

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