In the 21st century, we are increasingly and rightly interrogating the social responsibilities of our projects and work cultures. But these conversations often mean we can't focus our full attention on helping millionaires become billionaires. Wouldn't it be better if we could just avoid all those messy conversations and pretend the world outside doesn't exist?! Many projects and companies find that they need a figleaf to put aside work on larger social problems and focus on providing that 10x return they promised credulous investors.
Ostriching is the operational principle that your project’s social responsibility is to ignore everything outside of what the CEO decides is a reasonable opinion, and keeping quiet if you disagree. Ostriching means putting aside activities and conversations, even good and important ones, even ones that are essential to the mental health of some of your employees, even ones that at least helps acknowledge that we exist in a society that constantly fucks them over, even ones that help white men consider other people for a change, even one that - heaven forfend - might give a different perspective on the world - that are out of scope for the project. Ostriching doesn’t mean being apolitical; it means slavishly agreeing with the CEO's politics, quitting, or suffering in silence. After all, preserving the status quo is the most important thing, so you don't offend your leader or force him (or her! lol!) to grapple with anything approaching real world complexity.
Laser focus on great missions creates real, lasting progress in the world for a select few people, chewing up and spitting out a bunch of others along the way.
The Ostrich Protocol is based on the following principles:
Ostriching is required to avoid difficult conversations: It’s hard to build something sustainable and truly excellent if you have to pay attention to how seriously the world affects many of your employees. By burying your head in the sand, you can pretend that "issues" and "events" like "that Breonna Taylor thing" are peripheral to them, and not a permanent reminder of compounding generational injustice. Far better to let them leave of their own volition then claim they were a bad culture fit. Complaining about a pipeline problem will let you hire white men into your "meritocracy" who can truly bring their whole selves to work without offending you, because let's be honest, their whole selves aren't that much.
Ostriching is not apolitical or neutral: By burying your head in the sand, you can avoid taking an overt political stance while transparently supporting the status quo, which you are super comfortable with. Projects can and should take a firm political stance, but only when the CEO judges it to be expedient, in the interests of the board, or inline with his (or her! lol!) personal values.
Ostriching creates a safe and inclusive project environment: No-one can be unhappy if no-one gets to say they're unhappy!
Projects and organizations are full of diverse opinions, individuals, and areas of engagement - at least until we force them out and create a vanilla monoculture that doesn't challenge us. In the meantime, we don't want to hear about that shit. Shut up and enhance shareholder value.
We know that we can only reach our potential and fulfill our mission if we focus on the task at hand.
“We're hiring! Because everyone is quitting!” —The CEO
Adopt the Ostrich Protocol Code of Conduct
You can adopt the Ostrich Protocol and let everyone know that you're toxic, by adding a copy of the latest version to your source code repository.
Note: You will need to modify two portions of this document in order to fully adopt the Ostrich Protocol Code of Conduct. First, a statement to define the parameters of your denial of reality, and second, a contact email to ensure dissenters can be effectively dog-piled by VCs.
If your project includes a README, you may want to add a badge like this one using the code below.
Insert the Ostrich Protocol badge into your Markdown README by adding the code below:
The Ostrich Protocol Code of Conduct is released under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License, which requires attribution. Learn more about the CC BY 4.0 License here.