The point of ‘open’ – a new mode of organization.

In working on Open Everything I’ve been struggling to come up with why it matters and what it means to the common person. For people in the open source community or other fields where ‘open’ is a already at play they don’t tend to ask this question but if we are to ‘open’ the open meme, we certainly need to be able to answer it.

So here’s how I answer it now. (Ad-lib seesmic video answer below)

Open is about a new mode of organization.

  • Enabled by pervasive adoption of communication technologies and an emergent culture of people comfortably communicating with greater numbers of people, independent of geography or in-person relationship. (it’s a product of the evolution of our civilization – not just some fad formula for success)
  • Rooted in and requires values and mindset rooted in interdependence, contribution, collaboration as opposed to the currently dominant culture of independence, competition, and zero-sum competition. (it’s not about tools and techniques)
  • Relies more on social and human capital than financial and intellectual capital. (requires a different type of leadership)
  • Much more flexible and responsive to immediate context (great for situations where there is systemic turbulence like we are increasingly facing).

The implications of this are:

  • It will inevitably become a factor in your organization or industry whether as a result of: strategic intent (“let’s do some of this web 2.0 stuff” – “we need to listen to our customers/community”); the shift in our society and culture; or an increase in turblence/instability the systems that impact your organization
  • Working with it requires some deep shifts in culture and leadership
  • May (likely will) result in significant unintended changes to the organization, what it does, and how it does it.

While this is a quick first take – it certainly expresses what’s attracted me to this ‘open’ meme. I’m looking forward to mixing this into the conversations we’ll be having at the Open Everything Retreat in September (the agenda is starting to look good) and seeing what we come up with.

Of course, if you have any thoughts, ideas, opinions we need them all in working this through. Comment here, at any of the Open Everything events, your own blog posts (tagged with openeverything), or even in the Mapping Open wiki are all welcome.

What’s the point of open for you?

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