6 (Demo)

This four-letter word is the future of teamwork


Today, on the final day of Summit Europe, we got real about some of the four-letter words inherent in teamwork. You know, the words you use when you’re frustrated, behind schedule, or disappointed with how something turned out. I can’t write them all here, but it’s likely we all use them more than we should.

Fail… Work… Quit…

But, not all four-letter words are so bad. In fact, there’s a four-letter word that can change all our workplaces for the better.


It’s a word, and concept, that has a special place within Atlassian. There’s what it doesn’t mean (closed), and what it implies (things are accessible). There’s what it looks like (no walls), and what it feels like (freeing). And for us, it’s shorthand for our culture, our approach to problem-solving, and our philosophy around building products.

Open is jam-packed with meaning. I mean, how many four-letter words have that kind of dimensionality? (Don’t answer that.)

We’re betting the farm on this one word, but with good reason. Teams that make information freely accessible make better decisions. Teams that share their honest opinions with respect trust each other more readily. Teams that believe that the best ideas can come from anywhere are more inventive. In short, teams who work openly create more value, faster.

Without it, potential is left on the table

And yet, much of the world still works in a closed way, optimizing for collaboration and information exchange on a need-to-know, need-to-share basis. Information is hidden or lost, bonds between teams and teammates are weak, and perspectives are withheld. Smart people burn out, and progress grinds to a halt. Four-letter words – the bad kinds – abound.

That’s why we’re doubling down on working openly, to unleash the potential of our teams, and everyone else’s. The beauty of this belief, though, is that it’s not a top-down decree. It’s a choice we make as individuals. It means catching ourselves when we’re about to shut an idea out, and opening up our ears to listen when we think we know better. It means making ourselves a bit vulnerable in order to be known a bit better. It’s a bit scary, but it’s so worthwhile.

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