The Panopticon is a social theory, which suggests that a design for a prison so that all inmates can be watched by a single guard. The inmates will not know when they are being watched — and because of this they will self govern and behave as if they are being watched all the time.
“ Quality means doing it right when no one is looking”
Working on an open project creates a mindset shift towards a pursuit of ‘quality’. Everything you do in an open project must be done with a level of excellence and professionalism — because you never know when someone is going to look in and test what’s been done.
It’s impossible to avoid mistakes, so you need to trust that your organisation is going to react in a mature way when things aren’t good enough — and support you to put things right.
When mistakes aren’t handled in the right way, it can be tempting to close down or present a sanitised version of what’s happening —some teams might show a ‘smoke and mirrors’ demonstration of a product that doesn’t actually work. This will then pile more pressure on the team, as they need to finish the demonstrated work behind closed doors, as well as showing further progress at future demos.
We work in an open way to unearth the massive amount of hidden knowledge in an organisation.
As suggested by my comparison to a prison - creating a feeling that the team are being constantly watched is not without problems! The relationship between the team and the wider organisation needs to be carefully maintained to keep the team in the open. Otherwise there can be a scenario where the team pretends to be open, or will just retreat and hide.