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Podcast

Building in public

One of the main core values of Novu is transparency with our community, team members, partners, and the industry around us. Transparency isn’t something new, we’ve seen other companies do it such as Gitlab. The motion of building in public, Open Startup, and Open Telemetry is a part of a fresh movement, trying to make the world better by allowing more observability, accountability, and trust between companies and their surroundings.

Tomer Barnea
Tomer BarneaJuly 5, 2022

One of the main core values of Novu is transparency with our community, team members, partners, and the industry around us.

Transparency isn’t something new, we’ve seen other companies do it such as Gitlab. The motion of building in public, Open Startup, and Open Telemetry is a part of a fresh movement, trying to make the world better by allowing more observability, accountability, and trust between companies and their surroundings.

What does it mean to build in public and how to do it?

Roughly speaking, you are trying to share everything that you can. That can be roadmaps, KPIs, revenue, or anything you choose.

While it’s not easy to become fully transparent, you can choose how transparent you want to be. Something is better than nothing. Even sharing a little makes you more accountable, keeps everything measurable gives you more confidence and allows you to communicate better with the world around you.

You could start by announcing that you’re building in public, letting the community know. For example, some companies give daily or weekly updates about their numbers. Some take a more comprehensive approach, which means they’re sharing their employees’ salaries.

In Novu’s case, it means sharing our handbook. Also, we share all our repositories, our main product, websites, CMS, and many others. We keep most of our team channels and communication public to ensure the community has the full context of what we are working on. Writing this blog post is also a significant part of sharing our process publicly for everyone to know.

Ask a different question

Instead of asking the standard question: should we make this public? We ask, should we make it private?

We need to find a reason to make something private because we are trying to build with the community. It’s a lot harder to work with the community and have them be a part of something if they lack context or information.

One of the contributors we recruited already had a context on what we are doing as he already checked Novu’s code, roadmap, and team conversations. He did the complete engineering onboarding in under four hours and even suggested some new things. This is just one small win.

Here are some tips for becoming transparent

1). Shifting communication from private to public

In Novu we used to have a slack channel for our internal team and a discord channel for our contributors and community, it cause our community to lack context about the decisions we have made. Furthermore, if we decided to share the decisions with the community we had to copy the conversation from slack to discord. As a result, we have decided to move our slack channel and move everything into discord.

2). Expose your internal information

Like almost every company, we have our internal Notion, as part of being open, we have decided to make it public. The team had a lot of concerns, There’s so much stuff there, meetings, our advisors, investors, and many more private stuff.

And like I said before, we couldn’t share everything, so we have started Project GlassWing to make our information public and share every possible thing. You can even go to our Notion and see what we offer our employees for their home offices.

We chose the name Project GlassWind because it’s the only butterfly on earth whose wings are actually transparent. You can find our handbook here:
https://handbook.novu.co

3). Stay Humble and expose your vulnerabilities and lack of knowledge

I’ve been doing the whole entrepreneurship thing for a few years now, and the only thing I can say for sure is that I know nothing about what I’m doing. I’m just putting my emphasis on learning every single day. Don’t try to emphasize how great you are and sweep the bad stuff under the rug. When you expose your vulnerabilities to everybody, you speed up your learning progress and make yourself open to more feedback.

4). Cut the fluff

Engineers can detect fluff from miles away. Founders who “hide” their progress/roadmap or are not really transparent with their community will hit the wall quickly because most engineers will tackle them with many hard questions they tried to avoid. I think that one of the reasons open-source is that big is because when I want to implement something, I want to see the code, know the company’s roadmap and be a part of the company discussion. Our community invests a lot of time writing code, creating discussions, and improving Novu. If they don’t know what will happen next, how can they trust us?

We have talked about it here!

Do you want to learn more about building in public? Join our discord!

https://discord.gg/8zfPkuAdA3

Tomer Barnea
Tomer BarneaJuly 5, 2022