A Twitter friend asked me the other day if I had been doing any more thinking about open brands. Turns out I have. Two weeks ago, she and I had a conversation where we discussed how Red Hat had opened up the Fedora brand and the positives (tons!) and negatives (some) of doing so.
This week, on an plane ride up to Boston, I read the book The Open Brand by Kelly Mooney, which another friend had handed to me a while back.
The book is a eulogy for brands that are not willing to open themselves up, and an instruction manual for those that are considering becoming more open.
It was particularly interesting to read as a Red Hat guy, because the book is based on the idea that today’s single most powerful technology is “a mashup of the World Wide Web and the open source movement.”
The book opens with the question… “are you dangerously CLOSED?”
Whew… passed that one. But the book did make me think some about where the Red Hat brands fall on the spectrum of closed to open.
When I first arrived at Red Hat in 1999, I have to say I didn’t get the warmest welcome in the world. After all, I’d just joined Red Hat from IBM, which many earlier Red Hat folks viewed as exactly the kind of corporate culture they were trying to escape. I think IBM is a great company, but it certainly didn’t define me either, so I was a little surprised the first time someone came up to me and said, “Don’t worry, you’ll drink the Kool-Aid soon enough.”
Now I knew where this idea came from. But I kind of thought I had already drunk the Kool-Aid– that’s why I left the security of IBM to join this crazy company after all. What I learned over the next few years is that everyone tastes the Kool-Aid a little differently. Red Hat meant very different things to different people, even if they all thought they were drinking the same Kool-Aid. I learned what I didn’t know very quickly… but I learned it on my own.
So how do you make it easier for everyone you employ to have a shared vision of what the company hopes to accomplish? How to do you ensure that everyone in the organization is aligned (and excited!) about a common cause? Continue reading