3 Stories Igniting the Passion for an Open Organization

Jim Whitehurst- President and CEO of Red Hat

How do YOU picture an organization and how it runs?

Some may say a big CEO is in charge and he may have some executives beneath him. Then below the executives contains everyone else. Others may imagine an office with lots of cubicles and everyone working at their computers quietly. Unlike these pictures, a company called Red Hat has created a new system called an Open Organization. Below are a few passionate stories of people who have either worked with Red Hat, or are workers within the organization.

Brian Fielkow’s Story- CEO of Jetco Delivery
 A conversation came about between Brian Fielkow and Jim Whitehurst about Jim’s book on the Open Organization. Brian found many points throughout their talk to be extremely useful when evaluating this type of organization. Jim focused on many important points, but these a just a few:

  • An open organization is a model that is driving employees toward engagement, growth, and improvement
  • Bring your front lines in- use all of your employees regardless of the position they hold
  • The idea of having the “top down” does not work as well in today’s society- the company can have a CEO in authority, but overall the company works to give leadership opportunities to others as well
  • This allows employees to have a part in the ideas at hand and make them WANT to work for you

He describes the open organization as “an all-inclusive, leadership-driven, employee owned culture, and that’s what millennials are after.” The millennials are those seeking to find permanent jobs right now. This type of organization attracts these kinds of workers because they want a culture of inclusion and leadership opportunities.

Jackie Yeaney’ story- Chief Marketing Officer at Ellucian
Yeaney, a member of the General Electric marketing team, took part in a meeting with Red Hat. Before the meeting she was very skeptical to what Red Hat could teach General Electric, while being such an advanced executive company. Throughout the meeting she was very surprised to learn many tactics in running an organization that she may not have considered prior.

For example, she learned:

  • not to focus so much on all the minutes lost but more on associates goals and judgments to solve them altogether
  • Role of feedback: people with the Open Organization are not afraid to give constructive feedback
  • The workforce now is gaining intelligence- she needs all the insight she can get to find a correct/ innovative solution
  • Workers deserve a culture that creates value in their input

Pete Savage’s Story- Red Hat Engineer for the CloudForms prodcut
Mr. Savage works at Red Hat. His story is very interesting: One day one of the staff members asked him if he would change a lighting tube in the office. He accepted this task and started changing the tube. During this process a visitor was watching him do this simple task that was obviously not his job. A few weeks had passed and the visitors manager called Mr. Savage. The manager was joking around about him changing the lighting tube, meanwhile Mr. Savage started realizing many important lessons he learned while on the call. He learned:

  • It was not his job but he made connections/ relationship with the staff members
  • Result: the relationship went both ways- the staff “saved him” when order placement went wrong and they helped him
  • They work to achieve a GOAL- not isolated

Through Brian Fielkow, Jackie Yeaney, and Pete Savage, we can learn about this new kind of organization. It is important to keep an open mind about trying new ways of setting up an organization, or changing an existing one. If you would like more information from people who have engaged in the Open Organization, visit file:///C:/Users/Lauren%20Taylor/Documents/openorg_field_guide_1_2.pdf for more information.

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