Written by Alexander Hipp
"A hallmark of a healthy creative culture is that its people feel free to share ideas, opinions, and criticisms. Our decision-making is better when we draw on the collective knowledge and unvarnished opinions of the group. Candor is the key to collaborating effectively."
That's the first sentence of one of my favorite articles from Fast Company that I've reread multiple times to date. The article describes the so-called "Braintrust" as a meeting invented by Ed Catmull and other early employees of the animation studio Pixar, that enables everyone to be honest when reviewing work and fosters an open feedback culture.
At Beyond, we are currently two people, best friends. So how is candor an issue for us and important enough to write a blog post about it? Shane and I have worked together on different projects for almost five years now. We found an excellent way to support each other's strengths and how we're dealing with difficulties.
We don't have a format like the Braintrust installed yet, but I would argue that we are direct and honest when reviewing work or discussing different options for solving a problem. So candor isn't an issue.
Still, I wanted to write this article because I had an eye-opening moment last week. It reminded me of how vital openness is in a working environment, especially when working very closely with the same person daily (yes, weekends, too).
The situation went as follows: Shane and I are both coding the platform. Him being the technical mastermind, me following and rarely challenging technical decisions. He knows his stuff.
I was suffering a lot from a technical decision we took a while ago but never questioned the decision since I believed that he was very much in favor of the solution. He put a lot of work into making it possible. So while rebuilding the landingpage, I suffered again - I couldn't hold it any longer, so I questioned the decision.
Shane’s response: "Yeah, I agree it's pretty shit..."
This reaction was just so unexpected. He never thought that this is actually causing me so much problems he never brought it up. We laughed about it, went on, and are now looking into ways to improve it. I could have brought it up weeks ago. It showed me clearly that even in a great working relationship, we should always remind ourselves that "Candor is the key to collaborating effectively."
If you have something in your mind that you never shared with your partners or colleagues. Today is a good day for being honest.
I collected some of my favorite resources on the topic of candor and establishing a healthy working relationship. Feel free to check them out.
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