This is the inaugural post in a new series called Question of the Month in which we highlight the many ways Atlassians use Confluence Questions. Read on for insight into Atlassian’s culture, values, and our newest collaboration tool, Confluence Questions.
When we first introduced Confluence Questions internally at Atlassian, a few early adopters set the bar high with some really helpful and thought provoking questions. One developer asked, “Who moved my cheese?”, while another employee wondered, “What happened to the nut bar in the level 6 kitchen?”. Okay so yes, the questions started off a bit silly, but people soon began to see the value and they progressed to more serious and useful topics, ranging from engineering, HR, and IT, all the way to company-wide culture questions.
Questions started helping people pull the information they needed to get work done from Atlassian’s 700+ employees across four continents. It also provided a venue for raising questions that led to significant internal conversations. The incredible diversity of questions inspired us to write this blog series highlighting the many ways we use Confluence Questions at Atlassian.
Sparking conversation with a question
Our first Question of the Month comes from Emily Posner, one of our designers in San Francisco.
Thanks to the Confluence editor, it was easy for Emily to provide some background to better frame her question – links to other internal blog posts in Confluence and web articles – and pushed people to identify the areas where Atlassian excels and provide ideas for how we can improve.
Power to the people
Making use of our newest feature, other Atlassians voted up the question. It quickly appeared at the top of everyone’s Popular stream, and answers started to pour in from women and men across the company in Sydney, San Francisco, and Amsterdam. Atlassians added context to answers with comments, and a lively discussion ensued.
All of this engagement through answers, comments, and votes propelled the question into Confluence’s Popular stream so even more Atlassians discovered it, contributed answers, and voted on its many responses.
This question caught my eye not just because it was important, but because of the high-quality back-and-forth discussion that resulted. It was also interesting to see the way that certain responses bubbled to the top through voting, despite the fact that it was not a question with a “correct” answer.
I asked Emily why she posted the question in the first place. She said she wanted to raise awareness for an issue that many talked about at an individual level, but was not always discussed company wide. Emily explained why she chose to ask a question rather than write a blog post:
I didn’t want it to be my story. I wanted to hear others’ thoughts…it’s an open-ended question and [Confluence Questions] encourages a more open-ended discussion than writing a blog post and having people comment on it.
Emily got the open-ended discussion she hoped for, and the conversation continues today. In addition to those that contributed answers and comments on the question itself, Emily said countless others have come to her personally to thank her, contribute an idea, or offer to help turn ideas into forward progress.
Be the change you seek with Confluence Questions
Emily’s question wasn’t technical, nor would answers to it help her accomplish her day-to-day duties as a designer. It does not have a right answer, but it helped spark a conversation to make Atlassian a better company. Indeed, it is a perfect example of two of our company values: open company, no bullshit and be the change you seek. Emily saw an opportunity for Atlassian to improve, and raised a sensitive issue with the entire company.
We have long used Confluence to communicate within the company, and gather momentum for new initiatives. But Confluence Questions provides a way to pull valuable opinions and information out of more reticent colleagues. Without it, this valuable discussion would have remained trapped in private and nothing would have changed. We believe these conversations make Atlassian a better place to work – one where the best ideas are shared, and a diversity of contributions is encouraged and valued, ultimately making our people more productive and our products better.