It is a mistake to not let your employees make mistakes. It will result in staff without freedom, confined to do only what they are exactly told to do, not allowed to think and utilize their full capacities. And as a result the end product might be working very accurately within certain specified boundaries, but it is a stifled end result and only a shadow, not at all a reflection, of the full capacities of the employees team.
I have suspected such dynamics and commented about it under the question
Why haven't the statements to the Register been retracted?
7. Because staff is following very strict orders from management.
What I see in several comments from staff members is that (when we read in between their lines) they indeed seem to understand the issue, but also they seem somehow restricted to adequately respond to it.
To me it feels a bit like the analogy that I made in that other question. A waiter in a bar or restaurant that behaves in a peculiar unnaturally and unpractical way because they are told to follow rules strictly/exactly (and are not allowed to use their own intuition, knowledge, social talents and other capacities to handle the various situations in a more flexible and a less narrowly defined way).
I like the relatively open (seemingly unrestricted/unordered) responses from higher up as this one from Anil Dash (board member), or this one from David Fullerton (CTO).
We need more of this. Stack Overflow/Exchange is (used to be) a community. This requires the managers to join in the crowds in order to have the captain(s) connect with the feelings of the community.
Besides the low quantity of comments from higher up... it is a pity that the comments are still covered by a layer of non-disclosure and denial and refusal to acknowledge that something is wrong internally.
Stack Exchange (Inc) is not a community anymore (but a company)
Stack Exchange has a big problem. They have to cater for several groups simultaneously. There's:
- investors who like to see the company as profitable as possible
- customers for product like 'teams' who just want a running
- staff who want nice work
- and there are volunteer contributors who want to share and gather information (questions and
answers) on an open network and keep that network running
Recently, a lot of turmoil is plaguing the website and community. Or at least it is undeniable that there is a lot of talk about 'turmoil' when you look at statistics:
accumulated occurrences of the words 'anger' and 'turmoil' in posts on meta as a function of time. We can see a clear bump in the recent months.
For the company (investors and customers) the networks and communities Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange do not seem to be that important, but they are the boss. That's what's creating a difficult situation.
So, how should the community respond? Should we 'shut up'?
No hard feelings towards the staff, who seem to be mostly the messengers. But without sufficient communication from the managers/bosses higher up, it is very difficult for the community part of the business/organization to calm down and settle (and thrive again).
Currently, the only connection between the company and the community are staff members like the community team (who need to perform an impossible task, and have performed tasks that are probably outside their job descriptions).
The frontline is missing a general who is standing in front of the troops.
But this realization, about the vulnerable position of the frontline, can not mean that the anger and turmoil is now over and can not be expressed.
Your anger will be held up as evidence of toxicity
I have several double feelings about this.
It is an opening for a loaded question ("Anyone is welcome to leave their own reflection of this"), because it presupposes that the reactions on Stack Exchange are anger, and unnecessarily toxic. But we should stop for a moment and consider whether this description as 'anger' and 'toxic' is really true. We should not automatically 'accept it' and go straight ahead towards a (non-)discussion how to solve it.
Are all the questions 'anger'... or is it also mostly disappointment, concern, self-defense, etc.?
Especially the description as 'toxic' can be used as a strategy that allows to completely avoid to consider the causes of the "anger" and is placing blame somewhere else (like an over-reactive community). If the commenters on meta are compared to an angry mob then this there might be two causes of this, either the commenters are truly an angry mob, or the comparison to an angry mob is exaggerated.
It is not so clear what the best way is to move forward. It is not so clear to me what the twitter posts suggests or what the solution is. Does it suggest that we should shut up? That convenient outcome for the company, 'be silent, and don't express your criticism about us', would be a bit of an awkward suggestion (and maybe that's why it is not stated explicitly).
I am sure that a silent, non-critical, inarticulate community is the best outcome for the company Stack Exchange Inc. The problem is that they are not giving the community a good chance to consider shutting up as a good option. It is only more and more people that start feeling that the alignment between the interests of the company and community is going downhill faster and faster (insert obligatory lemming comic).