The Open Manifesto 12 principles for smarter collaboration

Working Open is all about inspired teamwork and collaboration. How can we embrace transparency, agility and community participation to increase our impact, empower others and get more done? As the open philosophy spreads beyond tech into the wider world, here’s some draft principles from a quiet revolution at work.

Netflix completes the open source giving cycle

Think big. Start small. Work open.

1 Think big. Have a mission, not just a bottom line. Tell a story about it that inspires others to help — that’s your greatest renewable resource.

2 Start small. Iterate. Take small steps daily. Start with the Minimum Lovable Product; what’s the least amount of work you can do quickly to prove the concept and build momentum?

3  Embrace transparency.  Think, plan and communicate in public. Increase transparency to cut collaboration cost, simplify communication and build trust. Work in open platforms like collaborative documents, wikis, blog posts and issue trackers. Minimize email, never-ending meetings and back-channel.

5 Test early and often. Share early drafts, prototypes and works in progress. If you’re not a little embarrassed by it, you’re probably waiting too long.

4 Share. Set big ideas free. Make it easy for others to remix, localize and improve your work. Empower them to do things you can’t even imagine yet. Give something away to get something larger back.

6 Serve communities. Instead of “markets” or masses. Engage them as active collaborators, not just passive consumers. Go deep with small numbers of real people, instead of prematurely chasing scale.

7 Focus. Do less. Have the courage to say no to good ideas so you can focus on great ones. Find the sweet spot where your passions, skills and resources all overlap. Ruthlessly eliminate clutter.

8 Be agile. Don’t try to plan too far in advance. Embrace continuous learning and ritualized reflection. Design a little, build a little, test a little; rinse and repeat. Stay open to what works.

9 Hack dumb rules. Take things apart. Route around gatekeepers, bullies and bottlenecks. Don’t ask permission. Embrace joyful insurrection.

10 Beware the bikeshed. Don’t get stuck in never-ending feedback loops. Not all feedback and opinions are useful. There’s no magic in “crowdsourcing” — crowds aren’t smart, communities of peers are.

11 Lead together. Push decision-making to the edges. Foster leadership everywhere. Strive for Minimum Viable Bureaucracy, permissionless innovation and Benevolent Do-ocracy.

12 Do good. Live and work our values. Take on Goliaths and gatekeepers. Use openness as a force multiplier for building the world we want.

Hmmm… What’s missing?

This manifesto is just an early draft. Got ideas for improving version 0.5? It’ll ship around July 1, 2015. What does working open mean to you? How would you improve on this?

3 comments

  • I particularly like (quoting from above):

    * Sharing is good
    * Messy, Hasty Pluralism – we want to foster a culture of sharing and openness, everyone should share what they have, whether they think it’s ready or not. It doesn’t have to set the world on fire, it just has to work. This may require institutional and cultural change.
    * Support the Ecosystem

  • Something about doing things that benefit the entire space? e.g., Mozilla did stuff that was good for the entire web. WikiSpeed is doing stuff that awesome for the future of energy-efficient transportation. These are things that benefit people as a whole, and are also just kinda intuitively awesome…Reference

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