As a company focused on teamwork and collaboration, Atlassian strongly believes that AI and emerging technologies have the power to supercharge teams and lead to better outcomes for our communities. But with this exciting opportunity comes the serious responsibility to develop these technologies thoughtfully and deploy them with care.
We recognize that evolving the practice of responsible technology governance requires transparency and collaboration. AI stakeholders around the world are engaged in developing new governance models to address the challenges stemming from AI. Through our contributions to these dialogues, we realized the necessity of doubling down on transparency about our own practices.
This is why we are thrilled to share our No BS Guide to Responsible Tech Reviews, which describes our approach to responsible technology governance across our company. Building on our Responsible Technology Principles, first published in 2023, our Guide shows how we are walking the walk by translating our principles to action.
Download our No BS Guide to Responsible Technology Reviews here.
A collaborative approach to responsible tech
The current governance landscape can be overwhelming. Shiny new AI tools are appearing everywhere, and it can be hard to maneuver across existing regulatory frameworks and proposed reforms, emerging standards, and other relevant guidance.
Atlassian has a rich tradition of sharing our own practices in the name of unleashing the potential of every team. We’ve navigated the guardrails, processes, and practices under development globally to align with the outcomes we’re aiming for – then embedded them across our company. Our Guide summarizes the lessons we learned from implementing our Responsible Technology Review Template across Atlassian and strengthening our internal governance and external transparency. We’re taking an open, collaborative, and iterative approach to responsible technology governance.
We welcome interest and feedback from stakeholders around the globe concerned with responsible technology governance. Reach out with your thoughts at email@example.com.
Want to learn a little more before diving right into the Guide? Read on.
Our “both/and” vision for responsible technology governance
Strong technology governance is built both from the top down and the bottom up.
Taking it from the top, we first established our Responsible Technology Principles as our North Star. These principles guide all of our governance practices and help us ensure that we develop, deploy, and use technologies like AI in line with our company values.
Our Responsible Technology Principles were heavily informed by, and designed to align with, a number of similar principles embedded in frameworks globally. But they are also uniquely Atlassian. We drew on our company mission and values to articulate a clear perspective as well as our commitments to our customers, employees, and stakeholders.
Our responsible technology principles underpin all of our work, including the way that we structure our reviews and apply our template. Those principles are:
- Open communication, no bullshit
- Build for trust
- Accountability is a team sport
- Empower all humans
- Unleash potential (not inequity)
As we’ve applied these principles through our template, our bottoms-up view revealed how teams could work better together to strengthen implementation of their governance programs. We learned about what makes teams feel connected to the objective of governance programs, how to encourage practice and iteration, and how to use design to engage teams.
Learning by doing: three lessons learned
Taking a closer look at how we’ve applied our Responsible Tech Review Template, here are the top three pieces of advice we would give ourselves — and others — about how to grow the practice of responsible technology reviews:
1. Connection is fundamental to collaboration.
Of course, it’s important to make cross-functional connections within and between teams and stakeholders when conducting tech reviews. But we also mean “connection” in another sense: being able to connect your work directly to the goals of your organization. Translating your organization’s mission to its values, to its responsible technology principles, and through to your work – that’s what makes the value of your work crystal clear.
How did we do this?
In our template, we deliberately bring things back to the Atlassian mission: to unleash the potential of every team. We ask teams to explain how their tech fits not only the intended purpose of the tech, but also our values and drivers of teamwork and collaboration. It’s a real confidence boost when teams can clearly say that their tech makes collaboration easier for everyone and describe how it does so.
2. Perfection is the enemy of progress
When it comes to responsible technology, the journey is the destination: there’s always more to be done. We could easily have spent months refining our processes, adding more detail, and perfecting our choice of words. But by shipping early and iterating often, we hit the ground running while also welcoming and integrating feedback along the way.
How did we do This?
Our template has always been structured as a series of open-ended questions that relate to different aspects of our Responsible Technology Principles. But some elements came later.
For example, this most recent iteration of our template now includes a brief, 1-2 sentence statement explaining why we’re focusing on each category of these questions.
We added these statements later in the process of developing the template because we realized many of our readers and team members were new to responsible technology concepts, and that they can also be quite broad and a little fuzzy.
By also describing to teams why we ask each series of questions, we aim to set out not just the letter of the requirements, but also to articulate their spirit.
We’ll continue to accept and implement feedback like this over time, to continuously improve the template and how reviews are conducted.
3. Design for practice, not (just) process
When it came to designing our Responsible Technology Review Template, our team had a lot of ideas on what the “best” review and assessment processes should look like. But we consciously set that aside in favor of meeting our teams where they are.
We focused just as much on the design and form of our templates and processes as we did on their content. We emphasized elements that encourage curiosity and openness while minimizing aspects that could nudge teams towards check-the-box responses.
How did we do this?
Our template reflects these priorities in several ways, including the “why” statements we described above and our consistent reminders to users that the aim of the template isn’t to “pass” or fly through with all green responses.
For example, in the process of completing their review, teams use a traffic light protocol (red/yellow/green) to provide an indication of their level of confidence in the current state of their work. This protocol uses terms like “Feels good” or “Needs work” (rather than stricter categories like high/medium/low) to help teams develop a more qualitative sense of whether additional measures are needed.
In this way, we use this as an important mechanism for teams to pause, think through how they feel about the alignment between their work and our principles, and take accountability for their answers.
However, this approach also required us to make a conscious trade-off between the effectiveness of our responsible technology reviews and the resource intensiveness of subsequent reviews.
Right now, this means that every completed template is manually reviewed by members of Atlassian’s Responsible Technology Working Group. We know that this approach won’t be scalable over time, but it gives us valuable context that will inform future process improvements.
Our commitment going forward
We are committed to using our principles alongside the practices, plays, and processes that underlie them to guide our work, decision-making, and communications on the use of responsible technology.
At the foundation of this commitment, we’re continuing to embed responsible technology reviews (with our Responsible Technology Review Template at the heart) as standard practice across all our teams that develop or make decisions about technology. This is one core aspect of integrating responsible technology into our everyday operations.
Our responsible technology reviews will almost certainly continue to evolve as the AI landscape changes. We will continue to iterate on our templates and practices in a way that not only reflects internal and external feedback, but also aligns with emerging standards and frameworks put forward by governments and organizations, both multilateral and multi-stakeholder.
We look forward to sharing our progress with you.
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