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Transparency, our core value, was tested today

Every day, we have lunch together as a team in our conference room where we have interesting conversations and arguments. Today, we were debating if we should write about a mishap that happened yesterday.

One of the newest developers of our team deleted the user-service database by mistake. This is the database that maintains the addon license details of users. As a result, addons got removed for a few users and new customers were not able to install their newly purchased addons. Most of our users wouldn’t have noticed any difference though. It took a good 6 hours for us to revert things to normal. It should have taken about 5 minutes to just restore the database from the latest backup. But the thing is, we weren’t backing up our all-important service database.

“Backing up the important database regularly is something very basic. What will our customers think if we tell them that we didn’t do that?” “They will lose their trust in us.” “Our customers will think bad about us.” “We might lose them to our competitors.” These were the few points that came up against writing about it.

We have a set of core values in our company that we consult when we need to make such decisions. This ensures that our decisions are aligned with our values and not allow our insecurities get the better of us. The value that tops the list is Transparency.

Being transparent is hard

Being transparent is just another term for being vulnerable. If we are transparent about the details of what’s happening every day, we place ourselves naked in front of people. We offer ourselves up for judgement. In a world where there is more negative criticism than positive, this is a scary prospect. Defaulting to Transparency under any circumstance means that we have to fight, challenge and undo our life-long acquired patterns of insecurities and the fear of being judged.

Being transparent keeps things simple

Being transparent keeps our life simple. We don’t have to cut corners, cover up mistakes, bend facts to support those cover ups and all that crap. We can answer customer questions without thinking. But, we used to complicate it by not being totally transparent. For instance, last December a SQL injection vulnerability was disclosed by Walter Hop from Slik BV to a few mailing lists. WordFence got wind of it and posted it on their blog. Honestly, we freaked out and didn’t know how to handle it. Though we released a fix immediately, we were not communicative enough and own up to our users. Our insecurities totally stopped us from saying, “Yes. Our code base had a vulnerability and we have fixed it now.” For our users, it made a huge difference hearing about it from a security company rather than directly from us. This was a real eye opener for us. We decided that, no matter what, we are going to be totally honest and open about things, especially when it goes wrong. That’s the best way to keep things simple.

Being transparent is rewarding

Attracting people When we live with a strong conviction of being transparent, especially when things go wonky, we send out a strong message to the world about what we are made of. This is a huge opportunity to attract like-minded people who believe what we believe. Be it future team members or customers.

Making mistakes & learning Overcoming the fear of being judged and being able to be transparent gives us the space to make mistakes. All of us know trying new things in life is more important and rewarding than being judged as imperfect. Yesterday’s mishap has taught us the importance of daily backups experientially. It also gave us a platform to demonstrate to the team, our second core value of trying new things, making mistakes and learning fast from them. So, I am glad it happened.

Earn trust & build relationships When we are totally open about all our mistakes and learnings, people tend to trust us. Since not many are willing or take the time to publish and share their learnings, people will see immense value in what we have to say. This builds long-term relationships based on trust. In such relationships, people tend to be more understanding, forgiving and willing to stay with you, supporting you during difficult times. This is, IMO, the best place for a company to be in.

 

We have had our core values on paper for the past 3 years. But only going through situations, betraying our own beliefs due to fears and witnessing our reactions to it helps us form strong convictions and gives us the courage to live by them.

 

Along those lines, we recently did away with discounts. You can read about it here. InfiniteWP is our first product and has taught us about ourselves and what we stand for more than anything. Exciting times. 🙂

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