information symmetry

I'm a manager, and I'm spending a substantial part of my time writing things down, and hopefully creating clarity in doing so.

The reason why I'm doing this is because I want to be the antithesis to a go to person. While I generally appreciate when people come to me for advise, for chatting or for working on something, there's a specific thing that shouldn't require personal interaction: Understanding stuff. And there's a huge precedent for the point I'm trying to make here.

Take most well-maintained open source projects, something like React. How many calls with the maintainers does it take for you to get familiar with the core concepts? Exactly, none. Not only because you probably don't even have to chance to get one of the core folks on the phone, but also because there's just a huge body of available, free and up to date documentation on the concepts, how to use it and what changed in recent versions. That provides a ton of clarity, without needing to hop on a call with anyone. So far, that's a logistical concern, but there's something deeper.

By not transparently documenting things, sharing knowledge, you're actively preventing a deep and meaningful discourse. In order to be able to disagree with something, folks need to be able to understand what they could possibly agree or disagree with first. Not having that thing, in a fixed, written form in front of you, is just making that discussion entirely impossible. Because there is information asymmetry, and even the economists know that that's a bad thing.

Monopolising knowledge is preventing information symmetry. And that prevents discourse. And that leads - or can lead - to poorer decisions. So it's not about me not wanting to go on a call to explain something complicated, it's about all the folks that didn't want to speak to me, couldn't be bothered or didn't even know that something existed - discoverability is something to consider.

There's so many in ways in which you can be special - very helpful, very smart, very pragmatic, very witty, very fun to work with.

Just don't be special by hoarding information and only sharing it on demand.