Should Sharing Scare Us?

I hope your new year is off to a wonderful start. I continue to see optimism around new ways of working that include reflection rather than knee-jerk reactions, systems solutions versus silver bullets, and increased openness and sharing around how the work gets done -- all in-line with the ideas of The Plugged-In Manager.

My conversation with the audience at the PARC Forum on January 19th (video of talk) was an example of this optimism, though the questions realistically pushed on how sharing can work without giving away the organization’s secret sauce. I recall that I responded with an example from Southwest Airlines. They don’t mind sharing how they stay at the top of the customer service rankings. Southwest doesn't think their competition has the ability to directly follow in Southwest’s footsteps and succeed. The competition will have to make the ideas their own anyway.

The same may be true for many of our organizations. We can give away our own practices and these will be helpful clues - but they won’t be recipes for our competition’s success. They will however create a stronger ecosystem for the work we do together. 
 
I describe one way this works for Zappos around p. 24 of The Plugged-In Manager, and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh includes many sharing stories in his book, Delivering Happiness. One of my favorites is narrated by Fred Mossler. Fred tells how Zappos created a tool to share information with their vendors.. information generally held just for internal buyers. They saw it as each buyer suddenly having a support team of 50 vendors to help them do their job.
 
Santa Clara University’s Family Weekend is offering me the chance to do some sharing with Santa Clara parents on February 24th. I’ll offer some of the new ideas their students get to see every day. I hope some of the audience will join us here.
 
Do you agree that organizations, individuals, teams are moving in the direction of greater transparency in their work practices? Would love to learn of new examples of either success or failure in the comments below.
 

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