Default Setting: Open

New York state began requiring hospitals to post death rates from coronary artery bypass surgeries.  

Over the next four years, deaths from heart surgery fell 41%, Laszlo Bock recounts in his book Work Rules! about his time as Google’s Chief People Operations Officer.

Making performance transparent transformed patient outcomes.  

Transparency also transforms business outcomes.  At Google, the “default setting” is sharing all information with all Googlers.  That’s the starting point.  There needs to be a business reason not to share.  

“We share everything and trust Googlers to keep the information confidential,” writes Lazslo.

For software companies, their code base or source code contains the secrets for how their algorithms and products work.  At Google, new engineers get access to almost all of Google’s code on their first day of work. 

Each week, Google hosts a weekly TGIF meeting and invites the entire company.  The most important agenda item is a 30-minutes of Q&A when top leadership fields questions from anyone in company.

Former Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt would share the same presentation he had delivered to the board of directors’ just days before.

Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, takes it a step further:  every meeting is recorded and made available to all employees.  Bridgewater’s founder, Ray Dalio, explains: “My most important principle is that getting at the truth… is essential for getting better. We get at truth through radical transparency and putting aside our ego barriers in order to explore our mistakes and personal weaknesses so that we can improve.” 

At most organizations, it’s the reverse.  Information isn’t shared unless there is a reason to do so.   

The assumption is secrecy. 

The benefit of so much openness?

Everyone in the organization knows what is going on.

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Reflection:  What is my organization’s current view around transparency and sharing information?

Action:  Identify an area where I could share more information with my team.  Share it.

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