Is "Open" Just Another Four Letter Word?
Like the word "free" in Chris Anderson's book "Freemium," the word "open" indiscriminately applied to organizations might be seen by some as just another four-letter word - representative of business anarchy, causing more problems and disruption than the value it could ever eventually deliver. But that perception is as off base as the one where social media zealots require that organizations be 100% open without regard to individual business needs.
In her book "Open Leadership" Charlene Li presents a rigorous approach to identifying and evaluating a specific organization's need for open leadership and its respective strategy, action and ongoing evaluation plans. Her approach is not a one size fits all prescription, rather she best describes it as:
"Being open should not be a mantra or philosophy ... The question isn't whether you will be transparent, authentic, and real, but rather how much you will let go and be open in the face of technologies. Transparency, authenticity, and the sense that you are being real are the by-product of your decision to be open."
- Charlene Li
Rather than writing another high level review of the book, I've created a downloadable "how to" road map or flow chart of the main concepts and their relationships to each other. The map takes many of "Open Leadership's" detailed and highly practical audit lists and metrics recommendations, and builds a visual relationship between them.
It's clear that "open" (leadership or organizations) is not a mono-dimensional state, nor is it for everyone. And it's certainly hard to achieve - meaning that patience and dedicated resources are required once the desired location on the "openness meter" is identified. Some may give up and others may prevail. So in the end, "hard" - like "open" and "free" - may just be another four letter word for some.