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11 Admirable Qualities of an Open Organization

 
 
By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 06-29-2015
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    11 Admirable Qualities of an Open Organization
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    11 Admirable Qualities of an Open Organization

    By Dennis McCafferty
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    Unheard Words
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    Unheard Words

    The phrase, "because the boss says so," is never spoken.
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    Straight Talk
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    Straight Talk

    Bad news is delivered immediately and without sugar-coating.
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    Topic A
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    Topic A

    Mission statements are incorporated into daily discussions.
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    Fired Up
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    Fired Up

    At work, people use the same passion words, such as "love" and "excited," that they use at home.
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    Merit System
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    Merit System

    The best ideas win regardless of who comes up with them.
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    Open Dialogue
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    Open Dialogue

    There are no barriers to frank discussion, as no one is afraid to bring up an elephant in the room.
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    Fully Accountable
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    Fully Accountable

    Leaders are first to admit their mistakes.
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    Critical Contributions
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    Critical Contributions

    Employees know precisely how their day-to-day tasks contribute to long-range strategies.
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    Long Leash
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    Long Leash

    Leaders allow for ambiguity in providing guidance for projects, so team members have room to explore uncharted options and innovate.
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    New Horizons
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    New Horizons

    High performers are rewarded with new, intriguing assignments, sometimes outside of their usual area of expertise.
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    Venue Selection
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    Venue Selection

    Potentially heated one-on-ones are held in neutral areas such as a conference room or lunch area, not someone's office.
 

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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