When we first established the Buffer values that we wanted to have as the center of our company culture, we knew that sticking to these ideas would be an incredible challenge. Especially since we’ve seen before that these values can easily end up being little more than a set of words written on a piece of paper.
In our culture deck, the second value on our list at Buffer is “Default to Transparency.” With this point especially, we started to think about everything we do within the company and how we could change it to something more transparent.
Sticking to radical transparency was probably both one of the most frightening and exciting things to do over the past months. It has meant to open up and make ourselves extremely vulnerable for ideas, since they were easily accessible to everyone on the team. Let me give a few examples of where we’ve started to put more transparent workflows in place:
Every internal email sent between any 2 people on the team has a certain list cc’ed that is accessible for everyone: For example, if 2 engineers email with each other, they cc the engineers list, if it’s people on our customer support team they have a support email list cc’ed. Stripe was a great inspiration for this. (More about this)
From the examples above, I often reflect on the power of transparency. I believe that it has such a unique potential to empower and inspire a team that it has largely transformed how we run Buffer.
One key reason transparency is a such a powerful value for a company’s culture is trust: Transparency breeds trust, and trust is the foundation of great teamwork.
Another thing that happens when you default to transparency is that it breaks down barriers within the team drastically. This is simply because defaulting to transparency means that you share every idea or new direction very early, before it’s completely solid.
This was how Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s boss responded to his proposal titled “Information Management: A Proposal,” submitted on this day in 1989, when the inventor of the World Wide Web was a 33-year-old software engineer. Initially, Berners-Lee envisioned "a large hypertext database with typed links,"named “Mesh,” to help his colleagues at CERN (a large nuclear physics laboratory in Switzerland) share information amongst multiple computers.
Berners-Lee’s boss allowed him time to develop the humble flowchart into a working model, writing the HTML language, the HTTP application, and WorldWideWeb.app— the first Web browser and page editor. By 1991, the external Web servers were up and running.
The Web would soon revolutionize life as we know it, ushering in the information age. Today, there are nearly 2 billion websites online. Whether you use it for email, homework, gaming, or checking out videos of cute puppies, chances are you can’t imagine life without the Web.
Not to be confused with the internet, which had been evolving since the 1960s, the World Wide Web is an online application built upon innovations like HTML language, URL “addresses,” and hypertext transfer protocol, or HTTP. The Web has also become a decentralized community, founded on principles of universality, consensus, and bottom-up design.
“There are very few innovations that have truly changed everything,” said Jeff Jaffe, CEO of the World Wide Web Consortium. “The Web is the most impactful innovation of our time.”