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Driving success through open communication

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Effective communication is the key to success, especially in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. Good communication forms the foundation for collaboration, innovation, and high-performing teams. Our DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) and Project Aristotle research demonstrate how effective communication, defined as the capacity to willingly share information and perspectives in an open and transparent way, plays a vital role in driving organizational excellence. So, let’s dive in!

How do we know what drives effective software teams and organizational cultures?

Unlocking the secrets to success in software delivery and operations is no easy feat, but at Google we’ve made it our mission to find the answers. We not only make a lot of technology, we also study how technology gets made, and deconstructing our processes allows us to locate and target areas for optimization.

Google’s DORA program is an academically and statistically rigorous research program that seeks to answer the questions: “How does technology help organizations succeed, and how do we get better at software delivery and operations?”

Internal research projects across hundreds of Google teams, such as Project Aristotle, our multi-year study of our own teams to determine why some teams stumble and others soar, allow us to study the drivers of highly effective teams in real-time, and explore ways to scale these tools or processes.

Join us as we dive into the drivers of highly effective teams and explore how technology propels organizations to new heights. In this blog series, we’ve distilled years of Google research into five dimensions that you can apply to drive success within your own organization:

Cultural ResilienceCommunication (the focus for this blog)CollaborationInnovationEmpowerment

Voices: amplifying the power of diversity

Inclusive and transparent communication is key to driving success within your organization, as communication is not just about transmitting messages; it’s about embracing the diverse voices within your organization. For the purposes of this article, our definition is the “capacity to willingly share information and perspectives in an open and transparent way.” Both the DORA research and Google’s Project Aristotle emphasize the critical nature of inclusivity and the value of diverse perspectives in driving success. When individuals from different backgrounds, experiences, and roles come together, they bring a wealth of ideas and insights that lead to better problem-solving and decision-making while mitigating group-think.

Psychological safety, which fosters open communication and trust, is the most important team dynamic, as it allows for the conditions to both offer and harness diverse perspectives. When team members feel safe to ask questions and share their ideas without fear of judgment, it allows for a collaborative and open dialogue environment where success is prioritized over shame

Encouraging team members to communicate their perspectives creates an environment that fosters innovation. Each voice provides a unique perspective, enabling teams to tackle complex challenges with greater creativity that unlocks innovation within individual team members while amplifying the team’s value.

Information flow: facilitating seamless knowledge exchange

Our Project Aristotle research shows that one key factor differentiating successful teams from the rest is information flow. When employees have access to the information they need and communication channels are open and transparent, it fosters collaboration, reduces silos, and enhances decision-making processes. Embracing technology and tools that streamline information sharing is essential. Collaborative platforms, such as real-time communication channels, empower teams and enhance the decision-making process through transparency and visibility.

To unlock the full potential of your organization, it’s crucial to establish channels that make the flow of information easy and accessible. Sociologist Dr. Ron Westrum’s study found that information flow is both influential and indicative of how parts or all of an organization will behave when trouble arises.

Insights from Westrum’s research, along with DORA, and Google’s Project Aristotle all highlight the significance of creating an environment where information is freely shared and easily accessible.

The2023 Accelerate State of DevOps Report by DORA, finds that teams with quality documentation amplifies the technical capability on organizational performance in the following, non-exhaustive, categories.

Building successful teams involves effective communication channels that enable team members to stay informed, align their efforts, and make well-informed decisions. From recurring calendar meetings to anonymous surveys, and collaboration platforms, these channels play a crucial role enabling teams to stay informed, align their efforts, and make data-backed decisions.

Another factor differentiating successful teams from the rest is dependability. According to internal Google research, effective team members readily offer assistance, with 1-3 members willing to raise their hand to help a colleague. Trust and dependability are essential in ensuring a successful team. Dependability goes beyond just getting the work done; it also means being able to trust that high-quality work will be delivered on time.

Messengers: leading by example

Consistent findings from Project Aristotle underscore the important role of leaders when it comes to setting the tone for open and transparent communication.

Facilitating a successful adoption of this new form of collaborative communication is a top-down endeavor, with employees always looking to their boss to determine how many of their ideas and experiences to share. Google’s research shows us that the best leaders empower their teams by creating a safe space for open dialogue and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard. When personifying authentic leadership, demonstrating genuine authenticity, and actively listening to those beneath them, leaders not only empower team members to voice their unique perspectives and opinions — but also ensure these insights are valued and leveraged. This inclusive approach strengthens each member’s sense of belonging and promotes a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

In the dynamic landscape of technology-driven organizational excellence, effective communication stands as a pillar of success. Both Google and DORA research consistently underscores the pivotal role communication plays in encouraging high-performing teams and spearheading innovation. By embracing a culture willingly sharing information and perspectives in an open and transparent way, we unlock the power of diverse voices, facilitate seamless information flow, and empower leaders at all levels to create an environment where success is not just a goal, but an ongoing journey. In harnessing the power of communication, enhanced by technological tools, we pave the way for an organizational ecosystem where trust, collaboration, and breakthrough innovation become the norm

Next steps

We developed our proprietary Cloud Culture of Success assessment based on extensive internal and external research, demonstrating that focusing on these five pillars, including communication, operations, reliability, security, and organizational performance, contributes to a more effective software delivery pipeline. Each of these five pillars plays a critical role in shaping a more agile and culturally resilient organization, and if you’re eager to gain deeper insights into how communication can transform your organization’s culture, we invite you to check out or contact us. Let’s collaborate to foster a communication-centric culture that not only aligns with your goals but also propels your organization towards sustainable and long-lasting success.

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