Secretive to Open Source in our Community Call

This week in our community call, we focused our conversation on the transition from being a secretive organization to being more open. We were joined by one Greenpeace Alum who said that since he’s now outside of the organization, he has no access to Greenpeace buzz. He expressed missing the internal chatter. He also that he knows there are hundreds of useful resources, but he has no access. When someone said “Well, you’re in this call, so you’re kind of inside,” Brian said

“This call is an exception, not a rule.”

He then talked about a Skype Group that’s “open” and the Greenpeace wiki as examples of what we should be doing more of.

We spoke a little about Greenwire as a platform for openness, but we identified a tribalism among staff. The perception is that Greenwire is for volunteers, so we have a lot of work to do to break down the idea that staff and volunteers are so different. Many of the staff here at Greenpeace are here because they are mission driven. It’s the same reason that people volunteer. The only difference is that one group supports that mission full time, while the other is more resource limited (e.g. Because they don’t have a salary).

Interestingly, this is a problem in many open communities. As open projects grow, they take on more paid staff. Many times that staff is not aware of how important volunteer contribution is – especially when someone is recruited from outside the open community.

Since this is the first time we’ve talked about this shift specifically, we talked about the reasonings behind Greenpeace’s secrecy. I’ve written about what makes it hard to be open before, and Greenpeace’s reasoning for secrecy is no surprise. Particularly when you take into account the nature of the work Greenpeace does. Still, it’s possible for Greenpeace to become more open. We need to stop being so risk adverse.

We need to continue having this conversation, but focus more on what each of us can do at a practical level. We know we need to model the behaviors we want to see. We know we will need to manage up and have the courage to call out our colleagues when they are not being open. We talked about how important open documentation is, and how publishing in the public internet instead of having everything locked away inside of our IntrAnet.

The group of people that shows up to this community call are leaders in opening up our organization. We are sharing resources, actively breaking down silos and finding ways to share what we do for the benefit of everyone. Our notes are here.

Secretive to Open Source in our Community Call

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