Business

Results vs. recommendations: How an organization's expectations reveal its culture

Years back I worked as an editor for the now-defunct Red Hat Magazine. While our circulation numbers were respectable, the department head wanted to see a sizable increase. In most companies, I would have been asked to do some research and present a publishing plan or a report on how to improve the numbers. Perhaps a consultant would have assisted. The resultant ideas would have been discussed, vetted, approved, shot down, and at some point (in some form) (probably) implemented.

But at an open source company, things roll a bit differently. My team was given a simple task: Increase the number of readers. We were expected to come up with strategies to make that happen while remaining true to the editorial vision of the magazine, but the department head wasn't particularly interested in hearing about our plans. He just wanted to see the numbers. Every month.

Talk about pressure. We quickly realized that ideas and plans and reports are simple to generate; results are not. » Read more

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Webcast: Building a Better Boss, with Bob Sutton and Polly LaBarre

Register now to join us Thursday, Dec. 9 at 11 a.m. ET for “Building a Better Boss,” an Open Your World webcast with Bob Sutton and Polly LaBarre.

Bob Sutton, renowned thinker and Stanford professor, will join MIX editorial director Polly LaBarre in a bracing conversation about what it means to be a truly great boss and how to cultivate a work culture that unleashes the best in everyone. » Read more

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Can rapid prototying work for your creative project?

The open source community has a phrase for the principle of rapid prototyping: “Release early, release often.” The theory is sound: Don’t wait until a project is perfect to share it. Instead, keep producing work so more people can experience it, react to it, find bugs, and improve it.

But does the principle also work in a creative environment? Ideas are fragile. Their merit is judged not just on the idea, but the quality of the execution. Often they need to be protected just to get that far. All it takes is one naysayer to sweep the legs out from under your idea.
» Read more

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Imperious Institutions, Impotent Individuals

I live a half mile from the San Andreas fault—a fact that bubbles up into my consciousness every time some other part of the world experiences an earthquake. I sometimes wonder whether this subterranean sense of impending disaster is at least partly responsible for Silicon Valley’s feverish, get-it-done-yesterday work norms. Build your company quick ’cause tomorrow we might get flattened.

Like many sorts of change, major tectonic events happen very slowly and then all of a sudden. The earth’s wandering plates are held in check by friction for decades or centuries, and then one day the forces of change finally break through to the surface and the planet erupts. » Read more

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We work in public

My conversation with our newest MIX Maverick Andrew McAfee yielded all kinds of bracing insight when it comes to how we set strategy, structure work, unleash talent, and measure success. But I haven’t been able to shake one idea in particular he threw out at the end of our conversation as a provocation.

First, we spent a lot of time on how the job of a leader changes in a world that is increasingly open, powered by social technologies, and morphing at warp speed. Andrew calls this world Enterprise 2.0. In this world, says Andrew, “If you want good things to happen, get out of the way. Let people interact and collaborate and communicate in the ways that are most natural to them. Then your job as the leader of the organization is to simply put in place the environment that lets them do that, encourage them to do that, and then harvest the good stuff that comes from all of their interactions.” » Read more

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Avoid the tool trap when building communities

Over the last few years, I've had the opportunity to work with many different organizations attempting to build successful communities inside and outside the open source world.

Many of them quickly fall into something I call the tool trap.

Meaning, they immediately jump into a conversation about what tool or technology they will use to support the community:

"Where are we going to put the wiki?"

"Should we build the website using Drupal?"

"What should we call the mailing list?"

"We should starting playing around with [new technology X]." » Read more

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Recap: Open Your World webcast with Henry Chesbrough and Gary Hamel

Gary Hamel, the webcast's moderator, is also the driver behind the session's co-sponsor, the MIX, which he described as "the world's first open innovation project aimed at reinventing management." He encouraged everyone to use the site to learn, contribute, and most of all to get involved in a pioneering initiative.

Hamel then introduced Henry Chesbrough, who has been a force in bringing the idea of open innovation to the forefront since his first book was published in 1995. » Read more

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Open Services Innovation webcast today

The opensource.com team and the Management Information eXchange (MIX) are hosting a webcast on Open Services Innovation with Henry Chesbrough and Gary Hamel today, November 11, at 1:30 p.m. EST.

Topics of discussion include: » Read more

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BetterMeans: a new app for running your organization the open source way

Last week I received a heads up about a new web application launching today from a company called BetterMeans with an impressive goal: to build the infrastructure (processes, technology, governance, etc.) to make an open organizational structure like we talk about here on opensouce.com a reality.

From their website:

BetterMeans.com is a web platform where people can start and run companies in a new decentralized way.

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Poll: Open innovation etymology

Even if you know when the term "open innovation" was coined, do you know who came up with it?

Professor Henry Chesbrough, Executive Director of the Center for Open Innovation at the University of California (Berkeley), first used the term in his book, Open Innovation – The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology. » Read more

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