Radical Transparency is a business term defined as “a management approach in which (ideally) all decision making is carried out publicly”. I first heard the term from an author I am a fan of. He’d post his drafts, ask for feedback, then finish each chapter. Credit was given of course, and he wound up writing the book completely in the open. Obviously this goes against the norm of write, edit, then publish. The book, called the Focus Manifesto is one of my favorites, I highly suggest any creative person check it out.
I adopted the process for my own book called Art and Animation Work. I’m currently drafting, editing and looking for feedback. I’ve enjoyed the process greatly. I’m not working in a bubble and it feels weird but good. Dan Salsberg has given me some feedback on the topics of the book and also asked me a great question…
“Do you think Radical Transparency could work in game development”?
The idea of immediate feedback really blowing open iterative development is appealing. Combine that with all info being out in the open and the development process could be faster, less political, more clear and direct.
There are of course some questions and concerns.
1) How would this work as a management edict?
Small companies, I think, do this by the nature of their business. Larger companies either choose to work on a “need to know” basis, or do not work completely in the open due to shear logistics. What policies and processes can executives put in place to get this to happen? Salary structure and compensation would have to be clear and correct. Performance evaluations would need to happen regularly and be standardized.
What if we all knew each others salaries? Could you openly share your performance evaluation results? We all know each others strengths and weaknesses for the most part. What if it was a public edict to enhance the strengths and correct the weaknesses? Would everyone be comfortable with everything out in the open? How many meetings would this transparency avoid? Would there be less bitterness and negativity if we each didn’t have to worry about this stuff personally?
Could you envision a task in your scrum that says “resolve your personal conflict with Bill”? If this worked would there be any personal conflicts to resolve?
3) How could a company actually do this?
Let’s say a company is on board with this idea. How do they do it? It’s the age old documentation question really. Wiki’s get outdated quickly. Who wants to read word docs on these topics? Can you put it in perforce or hansoft or some other tool? That limit’s the visibility. Why not hang whiteboards all over the office and put it all out in the open.
A crazy idea? Let me know your thoughts.