Keynote Points of Lee Congdon from OHRMCon: On the Open Organization By Shaun Bradley

Speaking at OHRMCon in New York last month, Red Hat CIO Lee Congdon offered insight into the open organization and the shift from an industrial to information-based marketplace. Adaptation is a key driver of relevant, competitive enterprise.  During his keynote address at OHRMCon, the first conference devoted to open source, Mr. Congdon spoke about the open organization as a vehicle to cultivate ideas, increase agility, and remain competitive amidst rapid change. Through enterprise and partnering, Red Hat offers technological solutions to companies of all size, from mom and pop companies to the top ten of the Fortune 500. As an open organization, Red Hat leverages company culture to engage employees, develop solutions, and meet marketplace demands. While open source is not usually equated with financial success, the Red Hat enterprise continues to grow, and expects revenue near $2 billion this year. With 8,000 associates, more than half of the Red Hat workforce resides outside the United States, in more than 80 geographic locations. Approximately 20 to 25 percent of its associates work remotely.  Red Hat operates on open source, using patents to protect its proprietary tech solutions.

Cultural characteristics at Red Hat include:
  • An engaged workforce:  Using surveys, business tools, coaching and other methods, Red Hat works hard at maintaining the engagement of its employees at all levels.  Engagement means employees are passionate about their jobs, corporate mission, and the collective vision of the company.
  • Collaboration:  Working collaboratively on enterprise projects, and shared decision making, is a hallmark of the Red Hat open organization.  Red Hat associates communicate and maintain connection through email, text, chat, business, social, and other tools.
  • Open decision making:  While open decision making takes longer than a traditional top-down approach, Mr. Congdon detailed its advantages. General corporate decisions are often published to associates via email in draft form, with a comment period to follow.  Comments received from employees offer valuable information to decision makers on refinements to, or disagreements with, proposed change. This iterative decision-making process continues for a set period, after which an executive with authority makes a final decision.  While that decision may not meet demands—it reduces or eliminates pushback when everyone has an opportunity to add to the conversation.
  • Talent acquisition:  Engaged associates identify and help onboard talent.  As competition for talent goes global, recruiting time and costs are reduced when associates are able to recommend hires in the open source community.
Notes Mr. Congdon, in an open organization, the best solutions or ideas could come from any level of the organization.  Passion and commitment to vision—and culture—give Red Hat needed tools to remain agile in a rolling marketplace environment.