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Transparency, Meritocracy, and Collaboration

When Red Hat Inc. went public with much fanfare 12 years ago, I thought there was no way the company would make money on the Linux open source operating system. As usual, BD00 was outright wrong. This MIX article by Red Hat VP Jackie Yeaney, “Democratizing the Corporate Strategy Process at Red Hat”, may explain one reason why.

In her article, Ms. Yeaney shares all the details of the company’s strategic development process along with some performance metrics that demonstrate its effectiveness. Here are some snippets that I found refreshingly interesting.

“When I first started working with Red Hat at the beginning of 2008, it was readily apparent that the traditional corporate strategy development process would simply not work in an open source company where transparency, meritocracy, and collaboration were prized elements of the culture.”

“While many might view it is as a disadvantage or a time sink to systematically gather feedback from across the company, at Red Hat it’s a core part of our competitive advantage.”

“We built an internal wiki that leaders of each exploration team used to organize their thoughts and ideas out in the open where any employee could make comments or suggestions. Anyone who was particularly interested could read about the progress, and add their ideas or volunteer to help (and many did).”

“This information-gathering dialog lasted about 5 months. We communicated our progress along the way through regular updates at company meetings, through email, and on the Intranet. The strategy team leaders posted status updates to the wiki and replied to comments on their team’s internal blog. Jim hosted a company-wide online chat session where associates could ask him any question they wanted to about the strategy process (or anything else that was on their minds), and team leads communicated key updates through company-wide announcements and discussions.”

The likelihood that you have any clue of how business strategy is created in your org is low. The likelihood that you’re given the chance to actively participate in the process is even lower, dontcha think? Instead of being “engaged with” you’re simply “communicated to“, no?

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