11 Admirable Qualities of an Open Organization

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 06-29-2015 Email

Businesses often proclaim themselves as being transparent, but what characteristics make for a truly open organization? In the recent book, “The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance” (Harvard Business Review Press/available now), Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst reveals how his open-source enterprise software company has cultivated this kind of culture. When CIOs and other leaders embrace participation at all levels while minimizing hierarchies, he writes, employees grasp the full meaning of their roles and are empowered to influence change. If the outcomes advance key strategies, these employees are rewarded with even greater freedoms to make a difference. "The skills required to lead a company that relies heavily on the principles of open innovation are vastly different from those needed to run a business based on the hierarchical structure of a conventional organization," according to the book. "Changing the way you might be used to leading will be painful, but it will also be critical for every 21st century leader to understand and embrace … In order to drive engagement and collaboration to the roots of an organization, you need to get people involved in the decision-making process." Under Whitehurst's leadership, Red Hat became the first $1 billion revenue open source software company in 2012. The following 11 qualities of an open organization are adapted from the book. For more about the book, click here.

Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.


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