This evening, United States President Barack Obama will be delivering the annual State of the Union address at 9pm EST (if you want to learn more about the tradition of the State of the Union address in the United States, the White House has put together a nice video about the history and making of it here).
The president’s staff is trying out an interesting concept during tonight’s address. Here is an excerpt from an email sent out this afternoon with the details:
This year we’re trying something new. As President Obama addresses the Nation, we’ll offer a companion stream of visual aids, including charts and quick stats about what’s happening in the country. You can view this feature at WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU.
Immediately following the speech, stay tuned for our live Open for Questions event with policy experts from the White House answering your questions about key issues in the speech.
They’ve branded the event with the slogan “Watch & Engage” and have planned a whole week of events where citizens can participate in interactive sessions with government officials including President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebellus, and many others.
I’ll be interested to see how this plays out. Over the past two years, I’ve been excited to see many attempts within the US government to increase transparency, improve sharing of information, and create better forums for citizen collaboration. I’ve also seen examples where transparency, openness, and engagement are more spin than substance.
Which will this be? I’ll have to stay by my computer tonight and find out. If you decide to do the same, please feel free to share your experiences and opinions.
[This article originally appeared on opensource.com]
Over the past few weeks, the world has been consuming the newest set of revelations via WikiLeaks. The uproar caused by the release of the first set of diplomatic cables from a batch of 251,000 in WikiLeaks’ possession is enough to take your breath away.
A disclaimer: in this post it is not my intention to analyze the positive or negative consequences of the actions of the WikiLeaks organization—there is plenty of that coverage, just check your favorite news reader every five minutes or so to see the latest.
Instead, I want to explore the impact that the WikiLeaks brand name is having/will have on brands closely identifying with the word “wiki”, and analyze whether WikiLeaks will impact the acceptance of collaboration and transparency initiatives within corporations.
My feeling? These are potentially dangerous days for wikis, collaboration, and transparency in the corporate world.
What makes this case particularly interesting is that, according to Wikipedia (of course), as of this month the WikiLeaks website isn’t even based on a wiki anymore.
[Read more of this post on opensource.com]
Based on the positive feedback from this webcast, we decided to host a conversation between Stefan and regular opensource.com contributor Chris Grams regarding the ways open source and open innovation are different and the things they share.
To learn more about open innovation, visit Stefan’s 15inno blog.
Collaboration & Sharing
CHRIS: In the open source world, we always come back to collaboration and sharing as key principles. These days, many organizations would say they have collaborative cultures (or aspire to, at least), but where the open source way really shines is in its ability to inspire people to collaborate beyond the boundaries of their own organization.
It strikes me that the open innovation world also encourages people to reach beyond the walls of their organization as well, but if I were to point out one key difference, it would be that in the open innovation world, collaboration is clearly transactional or even contractual. You give on the promise of receiving in return.
STEFAN: You are right about this. Big companies engage with open innovation because the combination of their internal resources and the external resources provides more innovation opportunities that they can feed their corporate engines with. They want to increase revenues and profits, and they definitely put this focus first rather than “just” trying to do good things.
[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]
A big part of my day job is to help organizations with their brand positioning and strategy.
So when I read the article in the New York Times this past Sunday about TEDx, the relatively new (and incredibly popular) offshoot of the legendary TED conference, I thought it might be a good opportunity to take a closer look. The issue?
Clearly TEDx has been a smart community-building strategy, but will it ultimately prove to be a smart brand strategy as well?
Let me take a few steps back. If you are not familiar with TED (seriously? have you been camping in Siberia?) you can learn more here.
The main TED conference is a place where smart people (with big $$ and a personal invite) go once a year to hear other smart people give short talks showcasing how smart they are. The rest of us poor, unconnected folks wait patiently for the nice TED people to release the TED talks one by one, teasing us like a painfully-slowly dripping faucet teases a man dying of thirst.
And that’s the way it worked. Until last year when, in June, TED announced a new program called TEDx that would allow anyone to organize their own TED conference anywhere in the world.
The New York Times article tells the story of what has happened with the TEDx program in a little over a year:
…there were 278 events last year in places as near as New Jersey and Florida, and as far as Estonia and China. There was TEDxKibera, held in one of Africa’s largest shantytowns in Nairobi, Kenya. And there was TEDxNASA, which had space-themed lectures.
Already this year there have been 531 TEDx events. Another nearly 750 are to take place this year and beyond.
Wow. Now that is community-driven innovation on a grand scale. From one event per year with a small number of people attending at a very high cost to almost two TED events per day, held around the world, and almost every event is free. All that in a little over a year.
I’d call that a smashing strategic success. A soon-to-be-classic community engagement story.
But if we look at the decision to create TEDx from a traditional brand or intellectual property point of view, would it also be viewed as a good strategy?
[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]
Of all of the people talking or writing about the future of business right now, no one has more street cred than Gary Hamel. I’ve written about him many times before, and his book The Future of Management is one of the most inspiring and meaningful business books of the last 10 years.
Last year at the World Business Forum, when Gary called open source one of the greatest management innovations of the 21st century, there was some serious high-fiving going on amongst us open source business types.
So I’ve been watching closely as Gary and a team of management superstars have launched an open innovation experiment called the Management Innovation Exchange, or MIX. In the video below, Gary explains a little bit about the goals of the MIX.
Here’s how they describe the MIX on the website:
“The Management Innovation eXchange (MIX) is an open innovation project aimed at reinventing management for the 21st century. The premise: while “modern” management is one of humankind’s most important inventions, it is now a mature technology that must be reinvented for a new age.”
From spending some time on the site, it clearly shares a lot of the same foundations as the open source way, even if the MIX folks prefer the term open innovation.
One of the most wonderful bits? The MIX is a meritocracy, where anyone can join, submit management hacks, stories, or barriers, and then collaborate with others to explore the ideas further.
[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]
Fantastic blog post by Jim Whitehurst today on redhat.com called Creating jobs the open source way. As Matt Asay reported yesterday, Jim Whitehurst was one of only two technology CEOs present at President Obama’s Jobs and Economic Forum (the other was Eric Schmidt of Google) at the White House.
In his post, Jim makes a clear link from the open source way to innovation to jobs. I love the closing paragraph, which I’ve included below:
“Red Hat has built a successful, growing S&P 500 business on the power of open source, not just as a development model, but as a business and organizational model. While ours isn’t the only solution, I do believe business, government and society can unlock the value of information and create good, long-term jobs by sharing and working together.”
The White House has streaming video of all of yesterday’s events here.
I also found this article, which provides further information on a few of Jim’s points about national broadband infrastructure development, very interesting.
I was reading an article online the other day discussing how to “monetize” community. For those of you who don’t speak marketing, monetize means “to convert into money.”
Am I the only one who gets a creepy feeling when I see the words monetize and community used closely together?
Bringing up the idea of monetizing stuff at the beginning of a conversation about community is akin to a guy going up to a girl he’s never met and asking her to sleep with him straight out.
Nothing kills community mojo like bad intentions. And when you lead with bad intentions in a community setting, best case people will turn their backs on you, worst case they’ll pour a drink on your head or get their boyfriend to beat you up. Metaphorically speaking.
Look, people, I’m not saying it is wrong to make a living off of good community work. Just like it’s not wrong to date in the hope of finding someone to love you forever. There are just some ways of going about it that are gonna work better than others. And if your own happiness/success is your only goal, you will fail. To be successful in creating community you must take pleasure in sharing something.
So here’s my theory. Next time you hear someone in a meeting use the words “monetize” and “community” closely together (or see someone doing it online), think of me. Try substituting the word “kill” for monetize, and see if it fits. Feel free to post your examples here, send them to me via Twitter, whatever.
Here are a couple of examples I found online to get you started:
Last week, I wrote a post about our newest version of the Red Hat brand story, which starts with two simple lines:
Over the weekend, I stumbled across an interesting piece originally written for the Washington Post, entitled Recession Lesson: Share and Swap Replaces Grab and Buy.
According to the article, sharing is in again. Which is happy news for us open source folks. Here’s how the article starts:
The recession is reminding Americans of a lesson they first learned in childhood: Share and share alike. They are sharing or swapping tools and books, cars and handbags, time and talent.
The article goes on to cover examples of sharing in everyday life brought on by recessionary times: sharing gardens, sharing chores, sharing clothes– just like the old days, perhaps?
The sharing mind-set is not new to the American culture, but many Americans abandoned it when the nation shifted from an agricultural society to an industrial one, said Rosemary Hornak, a psychology professor at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C. They moved farther from their families and did not have time to connect with new neighbors because they worked so much, she said. Now that people are experiencing financial distress, they don’t want to be alone.
So give your mom credit. She not only predicted where the future of the software industry is headed, but also gave you some great ideas for surviving this tough economy.
Well played, mom. Well played.
The most compelling brands in the world tell compelling stories. Whether the brand is Nike (the Greek winged goddess of victory was named Nike, and it all rolls from there) or IBM (Thomas Watson and THINK) or [your favorite brand here], the most interesting brands have great mythologies built up over time. The brand story is deeply ingrained in their actions, voice, look, and culture.
It’s been almost eight years since we created the first Red Hat Brand Book. The original book was an attempt to capture the essence of our Red Hat story, to explain what Red Hat believes, where we came from, and why we do what we do.
It had a secondary mission as an early brand usage guide, explaining what Red Hat should look and sound like at a time when the company was expanding rapidly around the world and brand consistency was becoming harder to achieve.
When most companies create this sort of document, they call it a “Brand Standards Manual”, or something like that. But we were young, foolish, and drunk on the meritocracy of open source, so in the first version of the Brand Book, we emblazoned the words “This is not a manual” on the front cover.
Why? We wanted to be very clear this book was the starting point for an ongoing conversation about what the Red Hat brand stood for, looked like, and sounded like, rather than a prescriptive “Thou shalt not…” kind of standards guide.
I hate brand standards that sound like legal documents. I’ve always felt like the role of our group was to educate and inspire, not to police, and we tried to create a document that embodied that spirit.
This year we launched the biggest update yet to the Brand Book. In doing so, we actually split it into two projects:
After 10 years at Red Hat, I’ll admit I am a little bit out of touch with what the corporate world looks like everywhere else. But after a recent conversation with someone out there in the non-Red Hat universe, I thought I’d pass on a quick tip they found helpful on how to create a more collaborative culture in your organization.
The tip is simple. Default to open. Everywhere.
What does this mean? It means rather than starting from a point where you choose what to share, you start from a point where you chose what not to share.
You begin sharing by default.
A quick example. Our group was lucky enough to (thanks to our talented global facilities director, Craig Youst) have the opportunity to help design our own office space. As part of the space design, we determined that we wanted no offices– everyone would be in a large, open collaborative space.
Everyone had the same sized cubes, and it didn’t matter how much of a muckety-muck you were or weren’t. If you wanted to have a private conversation, the space design included a series of private alcoves, where you could go talk with your doctor, or yell at your wife, or whatever you didn’t want to do in public. But the key is that you had to actively decide when placing a call, do I want to take this in private? Which is counter than the old-skool office design where you had an office with a door, and all conversations were private by default.