Culture, Design

Dear future colleague, transparency is knowledge

September 14, 2022

Read time 4 min

Dear future colleague,

Kids ask a lot of questions, and I was no exception. I was always curious about how things worked. Not necessarily in a mechanical sense, but more in the context of society — why the world was built the way it was. I didn’t realize then that my desire to understand these things would actually lead me into product and experience design and to a job where I can channel my inquisitiveness into helping people. It would also get me to Reaktor, a home that embraces open communication in all forms. 

Growing up, two of my main interests were painting and sketching. I attended an arts-based high school and it was there that I discovered the distinction between art and design. But even more transformational was when I realized that “design” wasn’t just a noun, but also a verb. Designing really begins with having access to a wealth of information and then being able to pull out the relevant bits to form that into a whole. Good design starts with questions: Why is this needed? How do people interact with this? Who is the end user? What happens next? To me, learning to design felt like getting the instruction manual to how everything in the world worked.

After completing a degree in industrial design, I spent six years working at an agency in New York. While it was really fulfilling to build new relationships with teams and clients across dozens of projects, there were layers upon layers of hierarchy, and the work itself wasn’t always very product focused. I found myself longing to go back to the roots of why I decided to become a designer — to use all the information available to think through a product and make the puzzle pieces fit together for the client and the user.

To accomplish this, an organization needs, above all, transparency.

Break Through the Opaque

I was drawn to Reaktor specifically for that reason. And not just transparency in leadership sharing company financials or addressing social commentary, but in the ability to join other teams’ channels, peruse their work in Figma, attend other departments’ meetings, and learn about the nitty-gritty details of their process. In bigger, less-flat orgs, things can seem really opaque. There’s a prevalent feeling of being “left out” when you find information that would’ve been pertinent to you at the time or a discussion you should’ve been included in. It stresses you out and eats up a lot of brain power when you have to play catch-up (or politics) to track down what you need to get the job done.

When things are transparent, like they are at Reaktor, you’re able to look at everything with clarity because you know you have access to the information you need, all the time. Documentation is a team effort, and if you can’t immediately find something, there will be someone to point you in the right direction. Nothing is restricted based on who you are (or who you aren’t), and when you join a project, you can peruse the file history to get all the necessary background. Plus — and maybe most importantly — the culture supports asking questions. At the risk of sounding too much like a platitude, the ultimate benefit of transparency is that it allows people to do their best work. It frees up a lot of time otherwise spent fighting through the opaqueness and creates a space where more people are on the same page and open to sharing ideas.

Examine Your Own Transparency

Reaping the benefits of a core value like this also comes with the responsibility to contribute to upholding it. During my time at Reaktor, I’ve certainly become increasingly mindful of being as transparent as possible with my own communication to my teammates, providing all possible context and making sure we are operating in a shared language. The relationship is entirely bi-directional, where knowledge is power and a two-way street — which is what ultimately allows us to keep building a cohesive company culture.

I’ve learned that asking questions and gathering insight makes me a better designer. But it also creates a better working environment. So, dear future colleague, if working in a culture of transparency is of high value to you, bring that curiosity to Reaktor. Learn everything you can with all the information you’re given, and play a role in others connecting the dots as well. Together, we’ll help each other understand the bigger picture.

 

My inbox is always open if you want to chat about Reaktor, or all things design! Contact Me

 


Dear future colleague: A series of letters written by Reaktorians. Come join us, as you are.

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