May 15, 2015

Inside Contactually: Push vs. Pull, & Why Being Transparent Isn't Enough


One of our core values, which we've practiced since the very beginning of Contactually, is transparency. With our internal team, advisor, investors, candidates, users -- unless there is a specific reason not to share something, we let everyone have access to it.

We find that by opening everything up, good stuff always happens. Our investors -- even potential investors -- remark that they know more about our company than they do about their own. Hoo-rah transparency, right?

But, that's not enough.

We started noticing issues come up. Discussions on topics we thought we had come to a decision on were resurfacing. People were commenting that they were unsure of what another team was up to. Others were unaware of initiatives, internal procedures, plans, etc. This all came to a head at our company retreat where we had an open and transparent discussion about the challenges we were facing.

But wait - we're sharing these things?!

Rather than just share what we did to combat this, I'm going to share some actionable advice for you to take back to your company.

1. Understand Push vs. Pull

Just because you have the information made available, doesn't mean people are consuming it. For important information, you have to push it to the appropriate parties.

On Monday mornings and Friday afternoons, we take turns giving team updates and plans moving forward. We have a TV dedicated to showing a ONE slide presentation on our individual team's plans for the month, updated regularly.

Would it be so much faster for people to just check the plans we have online for all to access (and edit!)? Yes. But sometimes you have to push the data.

2. Make it really easy to find

Dropbox and Google Drive are evil temptresses -- it's so easy to drop a document and magically have it shared (side note: remember when this was actually really hard to do?) with your entire team.

But that means that we have thousands of files dumped in there. Proper usage of folders is nice, but still not easy to find information. We've started using an internal Wiki heavily, which is kept well maintained.

3. FORCE adoption

We decided to make a wiki with the internal repository of all our company information.

You find a useful piece of information? Put it on the wiki.

We make a big company decision? Make sure it's on the wiki.

You have a question... about anything? CHECK THE WIKI.

We sound like a broken record, but it works. We even made a meme out of it.

4. Listen:

We make a habit of listening closely to our team, and identifying when there is a disconnect with what we have clearly posted.