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Blog:Let Information Flow

Manny Becerra as a child

March 2016

Want to reduce friction? Let information flow. Want to improve product quality? Let information flow. Want to build trust with your team? Let information flow.

Hoarding information and blocking access to people with information is a recipe for failure and toxicity.

The benefits of creating and nurturing a workplace culture where information flows is much longer than the aforementioned prompts, and the idea is valid under different contexts and industries as well. However, what does letting information flow mean?

Information hoarding

Another way of answering or better understanding what letting information flow means is to look at it from the lens of what it is not, and that is information hoarding. Information hoarding is the act of gatekeeping—preventing access to—relevant, critical information, including people.

Letting information flow can also have the affect of dismantling power structures that are antiquated and harmful.

Hoarding information and blocking access to people that have information that is helpful for others to do their work succesfully inevitably creates an environment where failure and toxicity are the norm.

Dismantling Power Structures

Letting information flow easily between people within an organization can also have the affect of dismantling power structures that are antiquated and harmful in getting things done and addressing serious problems in a timely manner.

Failing to provide or consider context can lead to problems later on.

For instance, by continuously informing your team(s) about what you know, whether it's at a strategic or tactical level thing, including the outcome of disagreements on direction—when those occur, because they do!—it helps create an environment of transparency, which in turn helps builds trust. By encouraging members of your team to approach others in the company regardless of rank (seniority), because others have information your teammates need for helping solve a problem, empowerment is instilled, which in turn cultivates collaboration and exhibits value for diversity in idea and thought—ingenuity. Similar results the other way around when leaders toward the top of company ranks make themselves accessible to individuals throughout the company for solving problems.

This is the case at Tesla, at least in my experience: leaders at all-levels across the company are accessible for collaboration and problem solving.

Let Information Flow... with Context

While (re)exploring how to reshape your workplace culture to more seamlessly allow information to flow between people and cross-functional teams, I would underscore one more critical factor when sharing information: context—always provide context.

Empower your team by removing barriers of access to cross-functional teams with information that can lead to collaboration and solutions—ingenuity.

Failing to provide or consider context as a part of general conversations, decision-making, even troubleshooting scenarios, can lead to problems later on. Providing context can be in the form of general outcome expectations, including the consideration of cultural norms of individuals within your teammates. And when considering outcome expectations, don't overlook empathy; lead your team(s) with empathy and its sibling: compassion.

To help cultviate a continuous flow of information, which includes the sharing of knowledge, consider working-in brown bag sessions.

Lastly, to help cultivate a continuous flow of information, which includes the sharing of knowledge, consider working-in brown bag sessions with your team, and invite cross-functional teams to attend. A brown bag session is a dedicated time in which someone or a group, for example, share lessons learned for a project, or do a deep dive on a technical or design solution. I use the name brown bag because my team and cross-functional teams typically setup these knowledge sharing sessions around a group lunch; it's good and fun all-around.

With that said—let information flow,

Manny


I am a problem solver: a tech and people leader with a passion and proven track-record in building and leading empathetic, productive teams—remote and on-site—within a continuous learning culture, while championing usable, inclusive digital products and online experiences. I am also a father, advisor, life-long learner, advocate, community builder, and speaker—I am Human. Learn more