It means having an honest dialogue about how a decision will benefit you, the team, your end customers, and discussing the various ways to achieve it. At Creator Deck Media, we go into every conversation with the assumption that everyone wants the best outcome for the team and every individual involved in the project. With that as our foundation, everyone can openly share their ideas in context of how value is created, distributed, and shared amongst everyone on the team.
Practically speaking, it’s easy for us to facilitate discussions. We have a small office and everyone sits closely with one another. We do have full time employees that work remotely, but they are still very close to the team. Remote-engineering staff is ok too.
We expect every member of our team to be proactive in communicating their thoughts, feelings, and challenges. If you aren’t comfortable asking for help when you need it, you probably won’t thrive at Sparkswap. Everyone should keep the rest of the team informed on what they’re doing, and given how small our team is today (4 full-time employees), we look to bring on avid learners: we frequently figure out problems together, and “bringing someone up to speed” on an issue is a common and recommended practice, even in the middle of a conversation. We all benefit when everyone who can contribute is learning.
We try to encourage conflicting opinions, and ask for thoughts from people we haven’t heard from to make sure we’re getting the whole story and testing our thinking. Today, our office layout is open (though we’d be lying if we said that was by design rather than a budgetary decision). That said, we all work across from each other and frequently have discussions across the table on everything from cultural issues to debugging.
We are built on the foundation that all members of the team have a say in what we do and how we do it. No matter if you’re an engineer or support rep we value all opinions about what shape our product takes and what we sell. Our Atlassian workspace is open to everyone on the team. You have the ability to create a spec, groom it, ask for ideas from others and see your idea come to life. The product team is constantly reviewing our specs and assigning priority to them to set up what’s coming up next. We use Slack at WineDirect and we never leave home without it. It is our life line and the main way we contact each other whether remote or in-office.
Did something throw you off this week? We also have a weekly retrospective meeting where we take time to reflect on what we can improve on and make repeatable for the future sprints to come. We have an office layout that encourages open dialogue. You’ll see the team join up from time to time, chatting about the next feature or discussing a current one.
Being transparent means not running the business like it’s a black box. As an example, we share the company’s finances with the entire team. Everyone on the team knows exactly how much money we have in the bank, how many months we have left before we run out of money, what our go-to-market plans and targets are, and how close we are to achieving those targets.
Transparency means being open and vulnerable with one another. We encourage our team members to come into the office, put their ‘work’ face away, and be themselves. It doesn’t happen overnight, but we are always working on it together as a team. Recently, every team member completed the Myers-Briggs personality test which gave us phenomenal and actionable insights into the different personalities on our team. It changed the way we perceive one another, talk to one another, and how we interact as a team.
At Gem, transparency is core to how we operate, from the leadership down. We believe that when everyone knows what’s happening, they’re empowered to make better decisions.
Most companies recognize the importance of clear internal communication, but at Gem, we treat it as mission-critical. That’s why every member of our team has full visibility into Gem’s progress: deals won or lost, fundraising timelines, and key leadership decisions.
We recognize there’s a tradeoff here: telling everyone about every lost deal or offer rejection can mean disappointment in the short-term — that’s why most companies don’t do it. But we’ve built a culture of trust that makes it possible, and we’re confident that being honest with ourselves makes us a stronger team.
A good example of where collaborative decision making takes place at mindmatters is how we staff teams and projects. The entire team is involved in staffing decisions instead of one manager deciding everyone’s fate. Engineers change teams either because people express an interest to work on something different or because certain projects and timelines require more resources. Whatever the reason, these decisions are made by everyone. We come together to review our current teams, what needs there are, and who is available to support.
Teams can range between 2 to 8 people and we typically have anywhere between 2 and 5 projects running concurrently. There is a lot of internal mobility and staffing at mindmatters requires a lot of flexibility from everyone and since the amount of team members necessary for each project varies. We also hire freelancers whenever there is heavy workload, so that one needs to be stretched thinly. In these situations, the team that needs more resources is responsible for interviewing freelancers because they are the ones who will be working closely with this person.
1 Open Positions
Labor Automation Cloud Platform
New York, Toronto, and Lexington (just outside of Boston)
This not only means speaking openly with each other about our work and its challenges, but seeking constructive feedback and input from other team members both inside and outside of the engineering organization. During our company-wide town halls, we encourage our newest employees to ask the most colorful questions during open Q&As. Further, we promote transparency across the engineering teams where we openly share everything we can.
While each of our facilities is slightly different, they’re all variations on the open office-style plan with plenty of places to duck-and-hide for a quieter/solitary environment. Often, engineers will “go turbo” for a day or two and work remotely, either from home or a coffee shop.
It starts from the beginning of our professional relationship. When we negotiate salary we’ll show you the company’s financials and ask, “How much would you like to take out of the business?” This continues into your employment experience with us: we endeavor to create trust by expecting and accepting the frank truth and seeking and receiving feedback. We encourage communication habits that encourage psychological safety, such as asking questions that seek to understand before offering one’s opinions. At the end of each week, the company writes a public Friday Ship blog post sharing our key metrics and progress with the world. We seek not only to be honest with each other, but honest with the public as well.
Working with open and reliable people is one of our greatest values and we need this to expand to all the areas we can. We open source all of our SDKs and make sure our partners are aware of things when they come up, especially when it's bad news that may affect them. Open communication builds trust and without that we wouldn't be where we are.
We practice this by:
We encourage everyone to have a voice and be heard. We practice weekly 1 on 1s with team leads. We have weekly retros to celebrate successes and identify areas that need improving. To ensure that neither information nor responsibility gets siloed, we have extensive cross-team onboarding and regular cross-team projects to make sure everyone is on the same page. We also use analytics dashboards and Slack to maintain open communication.
We tend to share common goals across team boundaries so we’ve developed task-forces to represent internal stakeholders while working on new features and improvements across our platform.
At a higher level, our leadership team presents monthly Town Halls to share company updates and address employee questions and concerns. As a small team, we take advantage of these Town Halls to completely align. Mirroring the cadence of our Town Halls, our People team also sends out monthly pulse surveys to gather anonymous feedback from employees. They then use the data to address concerns or suggestions, which we often discuss as a company. The survey data we collect is incredibly influential. For example, survey data informed the company of which health benefits were most desired and helped determine the benefits BackerKit offered at open enrollment this year.
We understand and are respectful of the fact that people need time and space to focus on their work. At the same time, we also believe better decisions are made when more members of the team are well informed. By being transparent about as much as possible, we make information accessible whenever someone needs it. Everyone knows how much runway we have, how investors meetings went, about strategic partnerships, and is included in all hiring decisions.
There is an underlying trust that allows us to speak frankly with one another and enabled us to build an environment where anyone can voice their questions, criticisms, and/or concerns. The fact that we respect each other so much also makes open communication feel effortless here. Whether you agree or dissent, all opinions are valuable and will be heard.
In terms of day-to-day communication, we are physically face-to-face most of each day. Our office has a table where we sit facing each other, and we are seated next to the people we need to interact with most. While this facilitates a lot of collaboration, we are also respectful and will always ping someone on Coast before interrupting them in-person (or by video chat when someone is working remotely!).
We’re currently in a coworking space called PARISOMA, which you can check out here.
1 Open Positions
As teammates, we have an obligation to surface what we believe to be the truth in a constructive and positive manner. Everybody has a voice in this company.
We want members of our team to be comfortable stating their opinions and openly debating the choices that will help shape Jane now and into the future. We want to hire experts that are capable of doing things the current team is not - and we want to trust their expertise and incorporate it into the decision process.
1 Open Positions
Since our earliest days, Angaza has straddled an ocean. The challenges of keeping our San Francisco and Nairobi teams in sync have shaped our culture into one where we actively and explicitly practice open communication both across the entire company and fractally, within each smaller team.
From monthly all-hands (with video chat linking our two offices) to regularly scheduled office hours held by our three co-founders (where any topic is fair game); from bi-weekly internal, written newsletters to quarterly desk shuffling, we put a lot of energy into ensuring the right conversations are happening between the right people.
Within the engineering team, much of our written communication comes in the form of PR comments. We provide thoughtful, constructive comments for our colleagues, while keeping bike-shedding and rubber-stamping to a minimum, and we foster an environment where every engineer, no matter their tenure, feels not only empowered to comment, but also feels truly listened to.
In cases of fundamental disagreements, whatever the decision, our style is to ensure that the cost of course correction is not prohibitively expensive, document the discussion, and then defer to the individual or team with the most at stake.
Our leadership team believes that businesses run better when everyone knows what’s going on. We have a bi-monthly all-hands meeting with both offices (via video-conferencing). During these sessions, we celebrate new hires, walk through company financials, and reserve time for company Q&A. We use an app to let team members submit and upvote questions so that the most exciting questions get discussed first.
When we recently raised funds (a $140 million Series C at an approximate $2 billion valuation), our CEO Josh held an additional all-hands meeting. He walked us through the pitch deck, who each investor was, and the rationale behind each decision. It’s easy to claim that your company believes in being open and transparent, but it’s another thing entirely when prioritized by the leadership.
We work to create an environment where everyone’s perspective can be heard. However, that isn’t to say that we’re consensus driven. Instead, we borrow a paradigm from Apple and identify Directly Responsible Individuals (DRIs) who are then in charge of collecting and synthesizing information, and making a call. (We should note that the DRI is often not the most senior person, but the person closest to the work.)
Transparency and inclusion are both core company values and product values of ours. You can see them in the way our founders openly discuss the corporate structure, equity, and the company’s financial situation all the way to how our product builds trust between team members with daily questions.
Our work environment is one where everyone can challenge anyone’s assumptions regardless of whether they’re one of the founders, a senior engineer, or a junior team member. We’re still a small team and take full advantage of the fact that we can operate with a flat organization. You can simply walk over or Slack the person you want to speak with. We do a lot of ad hoc meetings to quickly sync on a particular question, and the whole team checks in on Mondays and Fridays to track everyone’s progress and talk through things that affect everyone.
As an example, our designer Elisha wanted to join a meeting that the product marketing team was having in order to learn more about the feedback they were receiving from a general manager we were working with. She wanted to be involved in that dialogue in order to incorporate his feedback into her design, and we’re glad she did. Something that we often say at Eden is, “We’re all going to die some day, so we have to make it count.” You owe it to yourself to build a company that inspires you. This isn’t a dress rehearsal so make it a place that you’re excited about going to everyday, where you can be your full self. Sharing your ideas and speaking your mind is how we create a company that we are all inspired by.
We also use Harvest to track time against each task and give these timesheets to the client. We are completely transparent in what we do. We also have open plan offices where all developers can hear all the conversations other developers are having. This helps teams keep up to date with each other and allows for knowledge transfer between senior and junior developers. While we don’t formally program in pairs, junior developers feel comfortable asking senior developers for help whenever they need support.
To encourage open communication between teams, we have an all-hands meeting every Monday over lunch. Each week, a different team presents what they've been working on, explains the strategy around their decision-making, and discusses what did and didn’t work. We also do a deeper diver once a quarter where our leadership team shares updates from that quarter’s board meeting, we look at our clients’ “health cards” (the status of each client’s account), and what individual teams might work on for the next quarter.
To ensure that everyone at the company has visibility into the health of the company, we also created a company dashboard that shares where Custora is in accordance to the goals we’ve set for the quarter. (This is something new we are trying out as a result of the feedback we received in our annual employee survey!)
While we value business transparency with one another as colleagues, we also enjoy being open with one another as friends. to At the end of every all-hands meeting, since we’re already sitting together over lunch, we always have a bit of fun... Every week, Nick leads “Weekend Update,” which it’s our version of SNL’s popular weekly segment (theme song brought to you by our head of design via phone-recorded humming). We all try to answer a trivia question and also get an update on popular culture – either an explanation of a viral meme or millennial slang. Everyone always has a good laugh and often learns something new.
1 Open Positions
We’ve structured our company to enable continuous feedback. We are staffed in pods that rotate, and all pods have equal access to company resources. Our office has an open layout and we have team-wide meetings every other week that end in an open discussion for people to give praise or raise questions. Engineers play a core role in determining the product roadmap, and we define all company OKRs for the quarter together, with each individual team choosing their own key results.
We have a practice of collecting open feedback and sharing feedback openly. It has created a culture of accountability and mindfulness. To facilitate team bonding and conversation, we rarely cater lunch (with exceptions). Instead, we utilize our large open, fully-stocked kitchen and cook meals together.
One of our company’s core values is "hold each other up." Redwoods are the world’s largest tree, and they intertwine their roots to support each other's growth. We take inspiration from redwoods as we build a powerful community that can support each person’s growth by providing thoughtful feedback, celebrating wins, and investing in the personal development of each individual.
We are very explicit with one another, and because we aren’t physically in the same office every day, we can’t take anything for granted when it comes to communication. We’ve all built a habit of writing everything down, and sharing progress openly in Slack. We are extremely diligent about updating our product roadmap (which we do daily), as well as monitoring our task manager. (We have a shared Notion board for all of company functions: engineering, design, and growth and community.)
We have a daily standup every morning at 12pm EST that we do over video, which lasts between 15-30 minutes. It’s the opportunity for each person to sync with the rest of the team and get a sense for our high level progress.
Our vision is that at any moment, anyone at the company can see the flow of work at a glance, and how their work is contributing to company goals. Any employee at Universe should be able to quickly and easily understand why they’re doing the work they’re doing and how it's going to impact our team’s goals.
We emphasize transparency, not only between teams and departments, but also between leadership and employees. After every board meeting, Sanjit (CEO) runs through the board slides at an all-company meeting, concluding the presentation with an open Q&A session. The founders also hold informal “Ask-Me-Anything” sessions where employees can ask any question about the company, from how we determine product pricing to how we tackle new industries. With things moving fast, we value these open lines of communication as a way to continue to come together to share information and build the company towards a unified vision.
9 Open Positions
We invest in processes that help every employee communicate both with their peers and across the organization, including (but not limited to):
We believe that open communication is key to success, so everyone is encouraged to speak with candor. We stay nimble and take action so we’re continuously improving. Everyone is given a voice, and we make it so those closest to the problems are the decision makers.
This works top-down as well. Our CEO Ryan holds an all-hands meeting every two weeks to share global company updates, and he actively encourages everyone with a thought or idea to Slack him directly.
Managers and reports meet one-on-one every week, and skip level meetings are scheduled on a monthly cadence. We believe that maintaining an open communication channel enables individuals to comfortably voice their thoughts, and to receive the attention required to maximize career growth.
19 Open Positions
When we started Honor, our engineering team was made up of the best people we knew from our previous companies, which also meant we brought on a lot of the best practices we learned from our previous experiences. We have to ship high quality code because people’s lives are on the line. It’s certainly a balance in being nimble as well, but we understand that everything we do has profound effects on operations (and the bigger we get, the more profound that gets). That’s why we implement good practices, code reviews, team discussions, and have deep conversations about architecture and tradeoffs. There’s a lot of communication around good code.
This is empowering, because everyone gets a say. It can also be challenging, because it requires patience, empathy, and deliberate communication.
We have two main meetings each week: A sprint planning meeting on Fridays, and a “Kaizen” (“continuous improvement”) meeting on Thursdays. At Kaizen, we look back on the week and figure out how things are going and what we can improve about our processes. Meeting so often in a formal way has allowed us to get comfortable with each other, be honest and open, and facilitate effective meetings.
Find awesome products designed by independent artists.
San Francisco, CA and Melbourne, Australia
We work together every day in a shared space, making communication easy and constant. While we make heavy use of Slack, we like to go analog from time to time because face to face communication is never forgotten. When teammates hit roadblocks, others are available to answer questions or bounce around ideas. Every week there is structured time for reflection: general retrospectives and agile forums. The topics covered in these discussions are determined together by the team. As far as planning and execution, we revisit our backlog each week, with a rotating facilitator to share the workload and help every team member engage with our plan. In fact, we rotate the facilitator for each recurring meeting, encouraging engagement and experimentation with different communication styles.
Transparency and open communication are principles we value across the company as a whole, too. All of our office locations regularly host AMAs (Ask Me Anythings) with members of our Senior Leadership Team. Dialogue among various departments and functions is strongly supported through Slack channels and inter-office travel as well.
Our daily checkpoint meetings include all members of engineering and product, as well as representatives from our marketing and operations teams. The goal of the meeting is to quickly address our progress, problems, and plans with one another. Given that all engineers at Plastiq are encouraged to be self-starters and project-owners, this daily checkpoint also serves as an opportunity to communicate any blockers you might be facing, and get help or support from others on the team. (It also gives us the chance to take stock of where we each are and pivot as necessary.)
Engineers also attend (and sometimes lead) War Room Wednesdays. These are 2- or 3-hour long blocks of time for the entire engineering team to gather in one room to do one of three things:
By carving out dedicated time for broader collaboration across the entire engineering team, it’s not only an efficient way for us to learn from one another, but it also breaks down barriers for future collaboration.
Finally, Plastiq has a big culture of documentation. We have an internal Wiki that every single person at the company contributes to. You can find documentation about every product the company has ever built, and and also get the definition of our Donut Rule (one of our tastier traditions). By having good habits of writing everything down, communication across teams and departments is seamless.
We have an open office space, and everyone sits near each other. As a part of our commitment to having a transparent working environment, all email that isn’t personal goes to mailing lists accessible by anyone on the team. We are all working together and value efficiency, so there are no “rules” around who you can/can’t communicate with. If you have feedback or ideas for Kieran, our CEO, you are encouraged to share them with him directly. Or, you can wait until our weekly all-hands meeting where our founders and team leads take questions on any subject. We try to cultivate a culture where asking questions is encouraged and where responses will be clear and meaningful. Psychological safety is important to us!
Enable immigrants to use their data to land on their feet
San Francisco, New York, or Remote (North America only)
Everyone has access to the same information, and no one is left in the dark about important company decisions.
The founders set a great example by encouraging us to speak freely about questions and concerns. At the end of every all-hands, they hold an AMA where no question is off limits, encouraging us to speak freely about concerns. Their transparency with the rest of the company about board meetings (they always share slides and documents presented), timelines, and dissenting opinions create a culture where Novans feel comfortable speaking up about any topic, which is why one of our core values is 'Challenge Without Ego'.
Almost all of the work we do requires cross-functional expertise and teamwork, which is why we rely on open communication about details, requirements, deadlines, and processes. We are heavily biased towards giving too much information rather than not enough.
In additional to the internal groups and brown bag lunches we have at Nova, we extend our open communications to those outside of the company. We host fireside chats with industry professionals, bringing in amazing, high-profile individuals into the office for open discussions on various topics, like our recent chat about leadership and hiring for diversity with Ken Chenault, former CEO of American Express.
This nearly always means capturing it in written form, and Airtable is very much a written culture: project specs, meeting notes, retrospectives, market opportunity analyses, and other documents, including our CEO Howie's reports to our board of directors, are all duly written up and circulated widely, in most cases to all full-time staff. Engineers regularly write documents that receive direct feedback from sales or other customer-facing teams, and vice versa. For this reason, we ask for a writing sample on our online job application form (and we really do read it!).
Furthermore, we strive to establish a social context in which people have the right expectations about authoring proposals or commenting on them. First, we encourage people to share as much information as possible: not only proposed actions and decisions, but also the context and motivations that prompted them. This allows readers, who do not already have that context, to engage more effectively. Second, we practice empathetic communication and discourage excessive pride of authorship. Ideas can only be shared early and often if people feel secure that their half-baked or highly speculative ideas will be welcomed as a starting point rather than attacked for their imperfections. On the other hand, the process of iterating and refining proposals can't work if people start out too attached to (or personally identified with) particular versions of an idea. Without these critical values, no software tool can create a culture of open communication.
Like many other companies, we use Slack for real-time communication. However, we also recognize the many limits of chat-style communication and strongly bias toward capturing discussions wherever reasonable in documents, tickets, and other durable media (including, of course, Airtable bases). We believe the best decisions are often made with ample time, discussion, and thought, which are best supported by asynchronous collaboration.
(A strongly written and asynchronous communication culture has other benefits, too. It's better for work done outside our main offices, or on time-shifted schedules. Also, it enables a greater proportion of focused “maker time” compared to a culture where everyone feels obligated to actively monitor chat for fear of missing out on important conversations. Of course, there are plenty of times when real-time chat or meetings really are the best way to communicate, and we embrace those situations. But we try to deploy these communication modes thoughtfully.)
We sit as product teams and there is open communication between all departments within the organization including support, operations, and the product organization. We share key company metrics openly with the entire organization including revenue and run rates, as well as the board deck with all employees on a quarterly basis. We use Slack for team updates and async communication, in-person conversations for decision making and direction, and company all hands for sharing company-wide information and metrics.
We have regular weekly meetings to address any concerns or issues internally, and a monthly all-hands meeting the first Wednesday of every month. Our CEO Shannon values transparency and keeping the team informed. During this meeting, she shares business results for the last month, how conversations are going with investors, and provides an overall status update. Then each department (operations, trainer development, and technology) is given air time to discuss any new features or developments. We also open the floor and let anyone speak up about another team member’s accomplishment. At the end of the meeting, we finish with fist bumps, which is part of our internal recognition program.
We are excited to hire our first set of engineers to bring development in-house. We are looking forward to finding people who can help set and align the engineering team’s culture with our current culture. To that end, the first senior engineer will have the freedom to set the tone, help enhance our open communication style, and have a huge say in the rest of the team. They’ll work closely with our trainers and our end users, so it’s important that they’re able to communicate openly and effectively. When we find the right fit, we want them to feel comfortable with their strengths and weaknesses. From there, we can build a team around their needs and capabilities.
To us, open communication means everything from individuals feeling comfortable speaking up when their opinion goes against the majority to the process by which project decisions are made. All of our communications are out in the open, and we have a rule that you cannot send emails to a fellow Remixer and instead must communicate over Slack where everyone can see. (Emails are only used for people externally.) We use Slack to the nth degree. We invested in our HR team early on, to ensure that all Remixers can be heard. In our weekly company meetings, our team shares updates, wins, and failures, which encourages everyone to be open and honest too. Our office is thoughtfully designed to promote spontaneous collaboration. Next to every pod of desks, we have a break out area, with couches set up facing each other. The focal point of our office is the large picnic tables, designed to host cross collaboration. We thoughtfully put a projector on the wall too, so people can hold open meetings where anyone who is walking by is welcome to spontaneously join.
We have an ambitious mission of transitioning the world to a better financial system. We aren’t going to achieve this alone — it’s going to take many brilliant minds working together. To do so it’s critical for us to foster a culture of high transparency, empowerment, and meritocracy. Everyone on the team has complete access to relevant company information and we proactively seek out critical feedback from one another.
Everyone's opinion at the company is extremely valuable. We are all here working together to build a company. This means that it is everyone's responsibility to speak up about what they see from their vantage point, and foster an environment where others are able to do so too.
We believe our success as a company depends on our ability to learn and correct ourselves. This necessarily requires us to be proven wrong about our prior understanding and to seek alternate perspectives. This doesn’t make us feel uncomfortable.
Our desire for open communication applies across teams. The engineering and business teams are expected to understand each other and collaborate on a day-to-day basis. We have a weekly team meeting where each person reports on what they’re working on, asks questions of each other, and stays up-to-speed on what’s happening elsewhere in the company. One of the prime advantages of being this small is that everyone can still fit the whole company into their brain at once. It would be a shame if we failed to capitalize on that advantage while we still have it.
We use software called Input which is like a forum or Slack. We use Input to share updates for the entire team to see. For example, when we asked our users to give us feedback about their latest flight experience, we shared both positive and negative feedback in Input. All other updates are communicated through this same forum: how many tickets have we sold? Are flights being canceled?
We have a dashboard that actually sit right above Jake’s seat which keeps display real time metrics about number of tickets sold and revenue. We also have a shared Google Drive and use Slack as a strictly professional form of communication. (We know how distracting Slack can get!) While information flows openly, we keep rather quiet so that people can work uninterrupted and with focus. If you ever want to sit down with another team member, you can. There is no formal process or boundaries based on title.
All hands is our fully transparent company-wide meeting where we discuss what has happened during the week, and reflect on successes and failures. It is a recap of the past week and we go over operations, sales, marketing, finance, and engineering departments accomplishments. We always host an AMA at the end to openly discuss any company issues.
Unlike other all hands meetings that are usually run by a single person, each department head or project lead presents at ours. It is one (of many) forums for people to ask questions and challenge decisions, even around fundraising. Our executive team members are entirely transparent about open business negotiations, and will share updates about fundraising whether they are good or bad.
Lastly, we are diligent about hosting regular retrospective meetings to learn from our mistakes and come together as a team to improve our processes. Our monthly all company retrospectives allows us to have open and frank conversations on a regular basis.
Transforming endpoint security with big data analytics
Waltham, MA; Boston, MA; Boulder, CO; and Hillsboro, OR
Having honest conversations with your leadership and knowing they are truly interested in hearing your feedback is incredibly important to every employee. And if it isn’t, it should be. Having clear communication across an organization enables you to grow quickly and keep teams aligned throughout that growth. This is one of our strengths at Carbon Black.
Every month, we have our “Ask Patrick Anything” series where employees can ask our CEO Patrick Morley anything they want. Questions can be submitted in advance or asked on the fly, but they’re all answered during a live video meeting. Everyone is encouraged to participate, and questions range from corporate strategy to the company’s management practices and desired culture. This forum has been a resounding success and has enabled fast, open, and transparent communications as we scale. (The best part was that it was really easy to implement!)
Many of our other leaders have adopted this approach as well. With the implementation of Slack, we have channels such as Ask Ryan (our Chief Product Officer) or ask Thomas (EVP Chief Operating Officer) where employees are encouraged to ask questions and will know they can get an honest response. We also have a number of collaboration and communication channels within Slack and via our intranet, Beehive, where employees can connect on work, various topics of interest, or just to chat.
To close, here are some thoughts from Allison Perkel, our Sr. Director of Engineering:
“Open communication, to me, is the process of being true to the team and to yourself in the dialogs that constantly happen at a company. This means people impacted by a potential decision have a say. This means folks who express differing opinions are cheered rather than jeered. And it’s a constant work in progress.
“To give an example, we bring all of R&D together four times a year – once a quarter. At each of these R&D gatherings, we plan the next 12 weeks of work. At the end of the planning, we do a “fist of 5” to see if we agree and commit to the proposed plan. It’s public. If anyone is a two or less, we stop and have a serious discussion as to why they chose that. For four planning sessions, no one has put out a two. When someone finally did throw out a two (which means no confidence), it led to a 2-hour architecture meeting which led to our plans and commitments changing for the upcoming quarter. This had a material impact on the plans and commits for the upcoming quarter and demonstrated that we, Carbon Black, value everyone’s opinion.
This is how we work to foster open, honest, 2-way communication.”
49 Open Positions
Modernizing how B2B companies manage invoice-to-cash
Lawrenceville, NJ / Denver and Boulder, CO / Woodbridge, NJ
We're all working towards the same goal, so we should be able to raise our concerns and discuss everything openly. A part of open communication is also being receptive: when things don’t go our way, we make sure everyone understands why so we can accept the decision and get behind the agreed-upon direction.
Our office has a good mix of open and "closed" seating. Development teams are in groups of 6-10 and are seated together in a room. Physically sitting together in smaller groups makes communication easy as you're able to talk to anyone and everyone quickly, but it also provides a good balance for quiet time when people need to focus. Some teams enforce the “headphone rule,” which means that no one should interrupt or disturb anyone wearing headphones unless it's an emergency. This allows engineers to stay focused and prevents them from context switching too much.
We practice a culture of radical transparency in everything we do, from giving people honest feedback when we think they can do better to over-communicating updates and information. Our founders have made it an important part of our culture that everything should be completely transparent both internally and externally. We have bi-weekly all hands meetings to get an overview on the status of the company and get to ask any questions, open or anonymous, to our founders, and they never shy away from difficult or uncomfortable questions.
We also have monthly round tables with the founders where a group of 5-10 employees have lunch with a founder and provide feedback that gets addressed and implemented. As employees, we are never in the dark on how the company is doing - board slides are sent out to everyone in the company before all board meetings. Messaging in open channels is encouraged over 1:1 communication when appropriate and documentation is a vital part of every project we work on as an engineering org.
Open communication goes for our external relationships as well - we open source all of our SDKs and make sure our partners are aware of things when they come up, especially when it’s bad news that may affect them. Open communication builds trust and without that we wouldn’t be where we are. It’s led to an environment with no office politics where people are aware of the direction the company is heading.
12 Open Positions
Our conversations are out in the open and the one large conference room we have has walls made of glass. There are no secret meetings and people tend to take meetings in open spaces. Once a month, we also have a more formal demo day where the company meets and anyone can share anything they want to with the rest of the company. We prioritize strong communication from the very beginning with how we hire. If you’re interested in joining our team, you should be personable and be able to socialize with all different types of people and personalities. Building strong relationships at the workplace depends on how everyone having emotional intelligence, being articulate when expressing their feelings and opinions, and constantly being open to feedback.
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