My colleague John Adams, reporting from the World Business Forum in New York, wrote on Twitter yesterday that during his speech, management guru Gary Hamel called open source one of the greatest management innovations of the 21st century (coverage of Gary’s speech here and here).
I love it. Gary Hamel is a hero of mine, and many consider him one of the greatest business minds on the planet. I’ve written about him, well, too much (start here, here, and here), and I follow him via his website, his non-profit called MLab, and his Wall Street Journal blog.
I knew Gary was familiar with open source after reading his book The Future of Management (one of the top ten books behind Dark Matter Matters). He spends five pages (205-210 in the hardcover) discussing open source and at one point says the following:
The success of the open source software movement is the single most dramatic example of how an opt-in engagement model can mobilize human effort on a grand scale… It’s little wonder that the success of open source has left a lot of senior executives slack-jawed. After all, it’s tough for managers to understand a production process that doesn’t rely on managers.
Here’s his analysis of why the model works so well:
When I talk about the culture that we’ve built at Red Hat over the years around the principles of the open source way, one of the most popular questions I get is something along these lines.
That’s great and all, Chris. But Red Hat built its culture from scratch. My company culture has been the same for over 50 years. Can you change a deeply entrenched 20th century culture?
It’s a great question. Clearly there is a big advantage to being able to organically build a corporate culture from scratch. But, with support from the top levels of management, it is not impossible to change an entrenched culture, too.
Where do you start? Here are three tips:
Very cool article in the New York Times yesterday entitled Care to Write Army Doctrine? With an ID, Log On.
The gist is the Army is running an experiment in mass participation, allowing any member of the Army, from five star general to latrine specialist, to edit a test group of seven Army field manuals using an online wiki. From the article:
“For a couple hundred years, the Army has been writing doctrine in a particular way, and for a couple months, we have been doing it online in this wiki,” said Col. Charles J. Burnett, the director of the Army’s Battle Command Knowledge System. “The only ones who could write doctrine were the select few. Now, imagine the challenge in accepting that anybody can go on the wiki and make a change — that is a big challenge, culturally.”
It sounds like the reaction within the Army has been all across the map, some viewing it as an extremely progressive step forward to others thinking the idea is totally crazy. But top Army leadership appears to be behind the idea. Again from the article:
The idea has support at the highest ranks. Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., wrote on the center’s blog on July 1, that “by embracing technology, the Army can save money, break down barriers, streamline processes and build a bright future.”
Here at Dark Matter Matters, we give this idea a huge +1. The army is employing some of the same principles we open source folks have employed to great success. A few key parts of the open source way applied here:
Books are important to me. Growing up, almost every free wall in my parents’ house was lined with bookshelves, some of them stacked two deep. I spent most of my pre- Red Hat career in book publishing, first working during college at The University of North Carolina Press. After college, I went to work for a literary agent named Rafe Sagalyn in Washington DC. Working for Rafe was a great experience because he built his reputation on big think/idea books and business books.
His first big book was the huge bestseller Megatrends by John Naisbitt back in the early 80s. When I was there, I personally got to work with, among others, Bill Strauss and Neil Howe on their great books about generational patterns in society (check out The Fourth Turning… very prophetic these days) and Don Peppers, author of some books back in the 90s like The 1:1 Future about relationship marketing that were the grandparents of today’s books on social media marketing.
I also got to play agent and author myself too. As an agent, I represented some of Tom Bodett’s work (yes, he is the Motel 6 guy, but was also a commentator on NPR) and sold a wonderful novel called The Frequency of Souls to FSG. As author, I helped Rafe write two “cutting edge” books about getting free and open access to government information (they have not aged well, I’m afraid).
Fast forwarding to today, Rafe actually was the agent for two recent big think books that I love, Authenticity and A Whole New Mind, so he is still making things happen.
After I left book publishing, reading became fun again. I read novels and travel literature for a while, nothing that made me think too much. But when I got to Red Hat, I relapsed and started reading the big think books like the ones I used to work on with Rafe. I thought it might be worth taking a few minutes to try to remember the books that have been the biggest influences on my thinking, and get them all down in one place, so here goes:
Without these ten books, Dark Matter might not even matter to me.
Promised a while back that I’d write a review of Marty Neumeier’s new book The Designful Company once i’d finished it, so here goes.
As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of Neumeier’s work– especially The Brand Gap, which has been a key bit of inspiration for the Brand Communications + Design group at Red Hat. The Designful Company is subtitled “How to build a culture of nonstop innovation,” and there are some pretty great ideas within on how to do exactly that.
It is clear that Neumeier is well read and well traveled in the right circles. He draws upon ideas from many current innovation thought leaders, including Gary Hamel, Roger Martin, Sam Lucente, Steve Jobs, and more. In fact, the recommended reading list in the back of the book is worth the price of the book itself.
My good friend, former boss, and Swingin’ Johnsons bandmate, David Burney, has revealed his new venture, a company called New Kind. He’s partnering with Matt Munoz, an extremely talented designer who created the original Fedora logo (an interesting open, collaborative process to be discussed in another blog) among other things.
Both David and Matt come from graphic design backgrounds, but their firm intends to explore the role of design in business from a “new kind” of perspective. According to their website:
New Kind helps organizations solve complex problems and build competitive brands. We do so by combining the problem-solving principles of design thinking with the collaborative power of open source. We help our clients create authentic customer communities, build and nurture innovative cultures and tell meaningful, memorable stories through the most relevant media choices.
David is actively blogging on some interesting stuff, including Barack Obama and MBAs, Gary Hamel, and orange juice. Do it. Click on the orange juice link. You know you want to.
My friends Jeff Mackanic and David Burney both recommended that I read Gary Hamel’s latest book, The Future of Management, which was named the best business book of the year by Amazon in 2007. I was absolutely blown away. The whole way through, I was like, “tell it, brother!”
The basic thesis of the book? The management model developed in the late 19th and early 20th century and integral to the success of the industrial revolution is starting to show signs of wear. It is being replaced by a new model, embodied by companies like Whole Foods, Google, and W.L. Gore (the makers of Gore-Tex); all three are highlighted in the book.
Red Hat, and the open source movement in general, are another perfect case study of this new management model. Concepts like the meritocracy of ideas, transparency & openness, collaboration, authenticity, and a whole host of other ideas that have made Red Hat successful appear over and over in the book.