Principle: Open, Honest Communication

Open, honest communication is what we want with our colleagues, team-mates and clients. At 8thLight, I believe we are trying to foster an environment of trust and respect between all of these parties in order to attain the primary goal of producing great software to satisfied customers.

  • Between project teammates

This principle should empower us to give our opinion on how a software problem could be resolved without fear of having a ‘bad/rubbish’ idea. In fact, good communication should take away these negative beliefs, and encourage learning and diverse ideas.

Open, honest communication, should empower us to speak up at the first signs a story may be at risk of slipping. This is because we want our team members to be fully aware of how it may affect all stories or the project as a whole, and so that there aren’t any surprises when it comes to client standup or IPM. It also means a dialogue is opened, and any issues can be discussed and resolved openly and as a team.

  • Between all colleagues

All colleagues should be able to give each other constructive feedback on their code without either parties feeling defensive or resentful. Colleagues should be able to debate and discuss the merits or demerits of a design decision and suggested alternatives freely. If one feels defensive about peer reviews then there is a problem as one should be able to discuss without feeling they are being personally insulted. Constructive feedback also compliments our other principles of helping others to learn.

Life goes on and sometimes we are ill, sometimes we have to care for someone else who is ill, sometimes our boiler bursts and floods the house, etc, but because we foster open and honest relationships, we feel confident that it if we are up front about it, we will be understood and supported.

At 8thLight, we have a policy of saying good morning and good evening to each other with a handshake. This is again a form of communication that says we don’t have to apologise because we needed to come in late/leave early exactly because we are professional, trusted members of the team.

  • Between software crafters and our clients

Open, honest communication, should empower us to inform our clients that a story may not be completed in the expected time, and why. It is because we want our clients to value our relationship, and to trust that we will be open about what and when we can and will deliver. It shows our clients that we empathise with their needs and their schedule too. We have a policy, that if we have not completed a story, we will not charge for it. The client therefore knows we are taking the financial hit precisely because we are fair and honest, and also because we are confident that we can rectify the slip in upcoming iterations.

I have struggled with this in the past because I didn’t work in an environment which favoured honesty and openness. If a task was slipping, I would feel I needed to keep it to myself, burning myself out to try and meet the deadline. When, inevitably, more issues arose that meant I still was going to miss a deadline, it was too late. I have come a long way from that, but it makes a huge difference knowing ‘why’ it is important to everyone at 8thLight.