Working in the open #28daysofwriting

Mozilla Screen shot


For most organisations, everything that gets out into the public has been seen by several people, checked over, and only put out when it is deemed ‘ready to share’. Not for Mozilla, an organisation that works in the open as often as possible. Reminded of this again today I wondered, what if more of us worked in the open like that?

If you head over to you can see the entire live project that is ‘Webmaker’, an initiative for teaching people to become literate on the web. Each phase of the project is there, with timelines and the people responsible for it. Digging around I even found in progress drafts of reports and publications they are writing, complete with comments added as the team review their colleagues’ work. They are working almost entirely in public, and it’s fascinating to see the process of how they do. It also must make them work very differently to people in most organisations.

I’m in the process of writing a report for publication at the moment. Although we have shared our intentions publicly, it’s currently undergoing the usual process of being shared for comments and feedback internally. Only when it is ready, when we feel it is totally finished will it be put out there.

I wonder how we might behave differently if it was public from day one, as it seems is the way Mozilla work. Would we take less risks because it was on show all the time? Would we be quicker or slower to make decisions and commit to them? Would we get more buy in from the audiences we are serving if they could see it progress, or less because we might slip up and fail to capture what they think is most important before the final draft?

Whatever work you do, I wonder how you would do it differently if it was in the open by default. Whether it is publications like this, plans for lessons or running events, I’m pretty sure the majority of most people’s work stays hidden most of the time. If hiding it had to be a conscious and justified choice, work would be a very different process.

If you shared that lesson plan as you were writing it, I’d be willing to bet the buy in and participation from students and parents could be quite different. If I shared my report as I was writing it I know I would behave quite differently, I’d probably reach out much sooner to people mentioned in it to fact check what I wrote and test my conclusions.

It’s a big ‘what if’, but technology allows such new ways of working I think it’s worth considering what their effect might be. I wonder what we would gain (or perhaps lose) if more of us worked like Mozilla.

Image: Mozilla






One response to “Working in the open #28daysofwriting”

  1. Doug Belshaw Avatar

    Great stuff, Oliver! I think we underestimate how much of our work would gain from being opened up – and overestimate any bad things that may happen!

    I encourage your readers to peruse a fantastic blog post from a few years ago by my colleague Matt Thompson:

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