My favorite restaurant has an open kitchen. The chef and her staff work in plain view of their diners, showing off every aspect of their kitchencraft. Meats are grilled, salads are assembled, sides are portioned and entrees are plated in the open and for all to see.
The chef didn’t have to build her kitchen this way. No chef does, and many don’t. A closed kitchen is the industry standard, and I’ve never gone to a restaurant and been disappointed the kitchen was closed from view. Why is an open kitchen cause for such excitement, then?
Working in the open instills confidence. When I go to any other restaurant, I implicitly trust the kitchen to prepare my food well, but everyone makes mistakes. When the transaction is only about the product, any shortcoming becomes magnified. I have no insight into the why or how of my meal, just the what. Without those two crucial aspects, I’m left to speculate about the conditions that caused the shortcomings, and my trust is shattered.
In my favorite restaurant, the one with the open kitchen, I have insight to the whole process. I can see the how, I can infer the why, and I can better understand how both of those lead to the what of my meal. I’m significantly more tolerant of what I might think is a mistake or shortcoming, and I’m much more likely to reason that these aren’t mistakes, just decisions I didn’t understand fully. I have confidence in the chef. She’s showing me how everything is made. If she has nothing to hide, why should I assume something should be hidden?
A designer who shares their process with their team is like an chef with an open kitchen. Your developers or product managers or other team members may not always understand your choices, but if you show them regularly, and if you never shy away from explaining your process, they will be far more likely to trust you and your decisions.