Your organizational efficiency is directly related to how you manage information, and information is lost when your organization is chronically lacking transparency.
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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
In grade school, you probably learned about the different kinds of energy, potential energy, kinetic energy, etc. And you probably also learned that any given machine has some kind of efficiency. In other words, the energy usage is translated to whatever your goal is with that machine in some cases more efficiently than others. In today's episode, I want to explore this mental model for efficiency in our work and our team dynamics. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. You're listening to Developer Tea. My goal on the show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. If you are trying to run a team, software engineering team, or really any kind of team at all, then you probably care about the efficient use of your time. Now let's be very clear here. We're not talking about making sure that every single thing you do is perfect. We're also not talking about micro-managing to make sure that every moment spent produces some x amount of value. This is not the efficiency we're talking about. Instead, we're talking about the efficiency of our effort going to the right things. Just make it messy, we may be wrong sometimes, we may make a guess in the wrong direction, but needless losses, needless losses of efficiency is what we want to try to root out. These are the ones that are systematic. Usually, those smaller ones that we were talking about before, we might get a 1 or 2% bump in efficiency or productivity, whatever you want to call it. With systematic changes, you're fixing an ongoing problem. You get return on your effort over and over and over. Think about this as kind of the difference between trying to put slightly higher octane fuel in your engine versus replacing a component in the engine and improving the performance at a baseline. We're going to apply this mental model in kind of a partial way. I want you to think about in your organization, on your team, your interactions with the people that you work with or clients or even with your close relationships. Information is energy in this model. Information is like the energy of those machines and loss of information is inefficiency. When we lose information, we become inefficient. This is a simple model to apply because we can see how this works in a lot of different ways. Some simple examples for getting to document your decisions or write documentation after you made significant changes in code. This loss of information creates inefficiencies down the road and sometimes it's not very far away. It's not too far down the road. Losing information as the result of time is another example of inefficiency. We've all experienced this. We talk about doing something on Friday. Maybe we don't write down enough detail. Then on Monday, we have to talk about it again. This loss of information from Friday to Monday represents yet another inefficiency. Some information loss is unavoidable. We can't perfectly remember everything we say. Even with perfect documentation, we can't capture every bit of information that was available in that, let's say synchronous discussion, for example. We have to accept that there is some loss of energy, some loss of information. This is true in physics as well. We accept that there is no such thing as a 100% efficient machine. But I want to talk about a specific type of information loss that is directly related to your culture. This is the information loss that is the result of a lack of transparency. This kind of information loss is essentially friction in your organization and on your team. When you have a lack of transparency, information gets hidden or otherwise subverted. And wherever that information gets subverted, there are decisions, reactions, responses to incorrect information or a lack of information. This is where the inefficiency of that information loss turns into real intangible problems, a cascade of problems. If decisions are made on intentionally obscured information, then worse effects happen, causing a cascade of further hiding, further loss of transparency. This kind of flywheel effect creates extremely inefficient organizations that are making bad decisions. If you have to protect one value in your culture, one value in your culture, it is true transparency. And the reason for this is that it's a forcing function for so many other things. Transparency allows for the highest possibility of informational integrity. Without transparency, you've already degraded the machine. You've already accepted an inefficient process. Without transparency, you've already created a leak for your information. You've already created friction for your information. I want you to hear very closely here that when I say protect transparency in your culture, protect transparency in your organization, I don't want you to hear a message that people have incorrectly labeled radical candor. This idea that transparency is giving you a license to just be a jerk all the time. That's not what transparency is about. Transparency isn't just from you. It isn't just from leadership. It's not just about you having the license to give an eviscerating series of feedback to all of your reports. Transparency is not something that you act on. It's something that you create. It's part of that culture. It's the result of, for example, an inclusive culture. It's the result of a culture where people feel safe, psychologically, physically. It's the results of a culture where leaders and ICs and everybody in between seek to eliminate the causes of fear. They seek to work together to improve and be honest with themselves and with each other. Not for the sake of self-deprecation or to wear some kind of badge of honor that you were truthful about your faults or something like that. This kind of transparency is born from honesty so that you can grow, so that you have that efficient transfer of information as your baseline. This is what it means to build an excellent team. Protect your culture, transparency. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. If you'd like to continue this discussion on transparency, I encourage you to join the Developer Tea. Discord community. Head over to developertea.com slash discord to get started today. Importantly, this is 100% free, speaking of transparency. This community generates its own value and you are a part of that. In order for the community to be valuable, we need people to be bought in, but that buy-in doesn't mean money out of your pocket. It means a more important resource. It's time. That's effort. Your time and effort in this community makes it what it is. So I encourage you to join that community spend the time to ask good questions and to answer others questions. Thanks so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.