On the path of true transparency (using Slack)

Transparency is a way of life, The tool doesn't change the way you act but only acts as a vehicle or enabler toward the path of true transparency.

We chose Slack as the tool of choice for continuous and open collaboration, and wow! what an impact it brought.

While we were using the free tier of Slack for several years, I started to push the organization toward a paid license a year+ ago since it was crucial to have the following:

  1. Full history for ever
  2. Unlimited number of applications

The previous CHAT tool was Skype for business (AKA Lync) - AKA crap.

After 6+ months of intensive communication using Slack I wanted to share with you key insights of the good and bad + next steps.

 To have a good adoption of this tool you need to follow few concepts

  1. Strive for public open channels - not mandatory , but this action promote collaboration and keep the "open door" concept.
  2. Create dedicated channel per subject - Context is the key! since it align everyone on the same subject and keeps alignment on the collaboration 
  3. Since the tool has so many feature and integration - I found it critical to have a session that will overview the key features (Reminders, Special integration that save time, Usage of post, Emojis, Usage of stars, Message to self, How notification works, etc ) - Don't neglect this! The conversion rate from a new user to an addicted user is those little things.
  4. Mention people that need to answer - without @ mentioning a person, he will not get a dedicated notification (by default) --> losing sense of urgency
  5. Try to use Slack as the single place to be - using integration this can happen, for example
    1. Using integration to Jira - you can open defects, stories and get notification without leaving the tool (time saver)
    2. Using integration to WebEx (for example) - you can create meeting in a snap
    3. Using integration to TODO apps, you can assign tasks in the context of a channel
    4. Using integration to Jenkins/Git - get notifications on build and code commits
    5. Using integration to APM tools - get notification of production incident
    6. You get the sense ...
  6. Star messages to be able to quickly find them or use it as a TODO list (un-star when finished)
  7. Use reminders when you want to ensure you won't forget about a messages (simple right click and choose time for reminder)
  8. Use the keyboard shortcuts to make your collaboration faster and as such easier - as an example pressing the UP key will let you edit last messages :)
  9. Create User Groups so that you can easily mention more than one person - this also create a strong bond between people
  10. For the advance people - you can create a POST rather than a simple messages, this include special formatting, checklist and most important --> the ability to let other EDIT it
  11. Pin important messages per channel --> reduce time for people to search for those important messages
  12. Use Threads - instead of answering in the main channel, you can click on the message and reply within a thread (sadly this is not the strong side of Slack)
  13. Create guest 1 channel users for each vendor you work with --> this will be a time saver when working with Vendors. we used it with New Relic, Out sourcing, and more. 
  14. Collaborate!!!

The are probably more actions you can do, but above should be sufficient during your first few months of adoption.

Also I wanted to share with you example of the channels we (patterns)
  • Team_{name}
  • Group_{name}
  • Development_All
  • Region (for example Israel)
  • Incident_{number} - used to collaborate on a production incident with all parties
  • {component}_alerts - used as an integration to other tools like New Relic to get alerts on specific component 
  • Events - good place to see list of events
  • Security_notifications - good place to have all security related notification published and also use the RSS app to automatically fetch CVE to this
  • Leadership - promote public discussion with leadership
  • Dev_Leads - open collaboration between your leads
You can see that the concept of contextual messaging is key.

While Slack is amazing and promotes more collaboration (Since its slick and quick), there are some negative side that you need to be aware
  • It create enormous amount of data --> some people cannot handle it (same as emails)
  • While a channel is a context - every messages need to have its own discussion (and not reply to the main channel), but the UX of Threads in slack is bad and people don't use it --> people lose the content and might miss messages you send...
    There is not solution for it, and I guess that soon Slack team will fix the bad UX 
  • Some people think that it breaks the work/life balance 0 personally i don't think so , but i cannot argue with so many people.

I hope this post will help you during the adoption

I do think that there is more work needs in Slack for work on the contextual messages and connect it more to the daily work you do (task/stories) - today it feels as just another tool... 
On the path of true transparency (using Slack) On the path of true transparency (using Slack) Reviewed by Ran Davidovitz on 12:21 PM Rating: 5

1 comment:

Nati said...

Very nice blog. Shows me how little I use of Slack’s functionality...

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