Public by default! 

It took me a few years, but I converted into a big fan of “public by default”. The term was originally coined by Google (I think) and became famous as one of the best practices in their company culture.

Many of us grew up in need-to-know cultures. We had learned to keep things close to our chest, and only share them when people insist we do. That mindset originates from many different motivations: perceived need to shield expert knowledge, the angst of the content being questioned or even improved, being overly controlling of perceived IP (intellectual property), and many others.

The reality is that sharing content makes everyone better. It allows co-workers to learn from what you already know and prevents them from having to re-invent the wheel or re-discover the wisdom. It also helps you, as it either directly reduces the number of questions you get, or at least allows you to point in the direction of an answer instead of having to re-create it.

Obviously, this excludes personal and confidential content!! “Public” in this context also means public within the organization.

As I said, I have been a BIG believer in over-communicating and freely sharing content (that is not confidential) for many years now. You might have already guessed it from these updates. It has served me well, and it has made teams I worked in better and more effective.

Whenever possible, legal, and ethical, think about how you can make content more accessible and discoverable. If you write down some good process steps in an email, copy them into a Word document. Find a place where you can make that content available to the org (Teams, SharePoint, file shares – whatever your organization uses for central storage). Create mechanisms to make it discoverable to others without having to ask you for a pointer – for example, put an index of all relevant documentation and shares on a OneNote in a Teams channel for that work area.

Especially in times that are as fluid and dynamic as these days, oversharing and overcommunicating is critical to ensure everyone can be most effective.

Files on local hard drives is where knowledge goes to die.

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