At HashiCorp, leaders use documentation to support their primary responsibilities and set the tone for how writing should function to aid in decision-making. HashiCorp’s Chief of Staff, Kevin Fishner, makes it clear that leading by example is essential for making documentation a top priority—which is how the company’s writing culture began.
Documentation is an essential part of decision-making within HashiCorp—to the extent that important decisions aren’t accepted unless they’re written down. To enable everyone to participate in this culture, Kevin has worked to create and maintain a clear written process for internal writing. This includes rules on what should and shouldn’t be documented, and then outlining the process: research, write, gather feedback.
“[There's] a responsibility on the reader to also put in an effort to understand. It's not just all about the writer.”
Iterating on its culture over time has led to the creation of templates and strong guardrails for how things should be documented. The two primary document types used to facilitate decision-making are the PRD (Problem Requirements Document) and RFC (Request for Comment). Despite the standardization, there’s always room to evolve and improve. As Fishner says, “Just because there is a set template that we follow doesn't mean we expect everybody to write the same. People approach problems differently. People communicate differently. So, there's a responsibility on the reader to also put in an effort to understand. It's not just all about the writer.”