3 Problems with OPEN and CLOSED Organizations
Times have obviously changed, and schools, business, people, etc. are having to conform to these chaotic changes. But when studying the changes of a business, should companies and organizations change from the strategies that have always worked to new, unchartered and mostly untested business ventures? This article will provide the problems found within open and closed organizations.
Before I discuss the issues with these organizations, it is important to define what they are. According to Jim Whitehurst, who is the CEO and President of Red Hat, an open organization is defined as “an organization that engages participative communities both inside and out — responds to opportunities more quickly, has access to resources and talent outside the organization, and inspires, motivates, and empowers people at all levels to act with accountability.” While closed organizations have a chain of command that employees must respect and work their way up to the top in order to have their ideas, opinions, and prototypes heard.
- “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It”
As cliché and grammatically incorrect as this phrase is, there is some truth to it. If there is a system that works for your company, do not change it. For example, I have had experience working in a retail store in my hometown. There are certain business endeavors that we do not pursue, because we know they will not be successful. At this store, we sell up-scale ladies’ clothing and prom/formal wear. Given that this store is located in Eastern North Carolina, we obviously cater to a different clientele than a similar store in New York; therefore, that is why we don’t order or carry certain brands and styles that are not as well-accepted in the South. You have to cater to your customers in order to be successful. Now, this does NOT mean that there are not things that we should improve upon, but it does mean we should stick to the things we know work while making improvements to those time-tested traditions.
2. Chain of Command
Having a chain of command is not always the fairest, but it has proven to work. Similar to the previous method, the chain of command process could use revamping, but it does not need to be thrown out altogether. It is implemented so that people have to pay their dues in order to climb the corporate ladder to success. Also, this system is not something humans came up with, rather we learned this system from the animal kingdom. The animal kingdom has a food chain, and every animal essentially “knows its place” on that chain. Businesses mimic that chain. People need to know their place in company. That is not meant to sound degrading or condescending, but, in my opinion, it is not fair for the CEO and the intern to sit in the same conference room. The intern is not any less important than the CEO, but interns have less experience and knowledge about the company the CEO does.
This is a word that you will usually hear when someone is referring to something in the field of science, but it is a perfect word to describe the problem with open organizations. Webster defines entropy as the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity and a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder. Basically, everything that is unmonitored or unmanaged will eventually evolve into chaos. In an open organization, having every man on the totem pole in the same room giving ideas as they pop into their heads can be dangerous. Entropy is not a pseudo-science, it is something that has proven to be true in any situation. For example, The Lord of Flies exemplifies the problems with an open organization. The lack of orderliness in this story eventually took the lives of certain characters in the story. Now, let me clarify that I do not believe open organizations will kill people, but I do believe that for certain people and certain personalities, such as myself, the organized chaos could push them into a frenzy.
I do not want to end this post with people feeling that I detest the thought of an open organization, because I believe they actually have a lot of ideas that could benefit traditional companies; therefore, I am suggesting a collision or a hybrid of both kinds of organizations. Instead of having to choose the good and bad in both, I believe it would be most beneficial to bring together the best parts of the organizations, and create an organization from that.