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Open for Business: Embracing the Open Organization Model

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When Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst interviewed for his first role at the world-renowned open-source software company, he wasn’t sure that his interview panel really wanted him for the job. This was, in part, due to the fact that Whitehurst was asked to pay for the coffee, gas and lunch of his interviewers, who had forgotten to bring cash with them. It was also partly due to the casual nature of their conversations throughout the interview process.

whitehurst200ff16Whitehurst writes about the encounter in his book The Open Organization: “When I look back at that meeting now, I realize that…they were just being open and treating me like any other person they may have had coffee or lunch with or got gas with. They, like the open source world, didn’t believe in rolling out red carpets for anyone or trying to make sure everything was perfect. They just wanted to get to know me…” (4).

This interaction is representative of “The Open Organization”: a business model centered on the importance of collaboration and transparency with stakeholders inside and outside of the business itself. The open organization casts off the shackles of traditional corporate hierarchies and derives great value in the contributions of all team members. As such, conversations are open, honest and authentic. The best idea wins, regardless of where it originated.

Highly touted by Whitehurst as a model that “inspires, motivates and empowers people at all levels to act with accountability,” the open organization model has gained a great deal of traction in recent years. Whole Foods, Pixar, Zappos and Starbucks are just a few of the organizations that embrace the open model.

As society continues to change and evolve, traditional leadership structures become less effective. “The conventional approach to business management was not designed to foster innovation, address the needs and expectations of the current workforce…or operate at the accelerated speed of business,” says Whitehurst. The open model makes all of these things possible, while attracting exceptional talent.

Hear more from Jim Whitehurst and other state business leaders at our exclusive, invitation-only Future of North Carolina Forum, December 6, 2016, 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. In addition to learning about the benefits of the Open Organization, leaders from across the state will discuss ways the business community can lead on a number of initiatives critical to our state’s prosperity. Do not miss this timely discussion to help shape North Carolina’s future!