OHRMCon: Understanding the Open Organization

By OrangeHRM | Published on Jul 27, 2015 | minute read

Catching up with Lee Congdon, CIO of Red Hat, we had a chance to talk with him about his views on how IT organizations and their business partners function in an open organization.

What is an open organization?

In his recently published book, Open Organization, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst defines an open organization as a business model with qualities that include:

  • Engagement of individuals in participative communities
  • Nimble response to challenges and concerns
  • Avenues to external talent and resources

In his remarks, Mr. Congdon discussed the open organization as a company culture that supports the bridging and blending of service and business counterparts to maintain and build mobility and meet objectives. An open organization offers a flat business ecosystem to cultivate trust, participation, engagement, and capability.

Transforming a traditional business into an open organization is a paradigm shift involving long-term effort, commitment, and resources. As it applies to IT, Mr. Congdon’s comments on the evolution of enterprises toward an open organization include the following:

Reliability: Notes Mr. Congdon, “IT is fundamentally a service organization and should realize that the business objectives of the enterprise, or the business, are an overriding concern.”

When considering an open organization, units must first have their deliverables and talent in place. If you can’t deliver projects reliably, you really have to start there. You may be able to do some of this work in parallel in different parts of a large enterprise, but IT must be able to get the basics right.

Trust: The move to an open organization is easier for an IT organization already invested in developing skills and solutions needed now—and in the future—by the enterprise. IT will need to position themselves to identify opportunities and potentially sell them to the business. IT must look for serendipity – and a business partner that is in need of assistance.

Moving past traditional hierarchy: To stay market relevant, business and enterprise are going to need a talent and resource scalability that is not present in traditional business models. “I think it is going to be increasingly difficult for enterprises to respond quickly in a traditional hierarchical organizational structure that’s perhaps focused on doing repetitive tasks more efficiently.

“In the future, many, if not all, repetitive tasks are going to be automated. It’s going to be an issue of how fast the organization can respond to market opportunities – and how fast the organization can transform, enabled by technology, to address those opportunities. Those sorts of criteria really change the nature of competition over time, and just about every enterprise must be ready to respond.”

Open organizations present a different way of thinking, engaging talent, and responding to market opportunities. In the next in this series, we’ll explore what Mr. Congdon calls the “need for speed, ” in keeping pace with the developing edge.

Learn more about the Open world and the challenges facing HR from Mr. Congdon at OHRMCon in New York City in October.