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The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  466 ratings  ·  44 reviews
TODAY’S LEADERS KNOW THAT SPEED and agility are the keys to any company’s success, and yet many are frustrated that their organizations can’t move fast enough to stay competitive. The typical chain of command is too slow; internal resources are too limited; people are already executing beyond normal expectations. As the pace accelerates, how do you inspire people’s energy ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 2nd 2015 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published May 12th 2015)
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  466 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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If you've been with an organization for a significant duration, the perspective and understanding is often sharply different than what outsiders have. I've been at #RedHat for the greater part of 11 years and as is usually expected, faced the "How is it to work at Red Hat?" question a number of times.

The question is simple and perhaps the audience demands a pithy response. The truth is that such an answer is pretty much impossible to craft. How do you begin to explain a company that has as its
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Had been hoping for more detail, although some interesting stories, any references to problems or resolutions too high level to give any practical understanding
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful Read

So many nuggets. For all of the information that I want to reject, I know that those are the exact principles that I need to practice implementing. Looking forward to sharing this one.
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book about the COO of Delta, moving to become the CEO of Red Hat. It's a short read, that tells the story of a different type of org.

It's like a practical guide on how to deal with open organisations.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn’t expect to enjoy this book.
Oct 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: technical
I'll start with the disclaimer that I was a Red Hat employee and Jim, who is Red Hat's CEO distributed the book to those who wanted to read it and I was one of those people.

I liked reading the book. The reason for that is the same reason of why I work(ed) at Red Hat: I am an Open Source fan and wanted to see how a company based on Open source works in the real world.
I think most people interested in open source will find the book interesting and informative. Maybe no mind blowing things will be
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jim Whitehurst, as Chief Operating Officer of Delta Airlines, created and fostered a team of employees based upon personal and collective input, collaboration and sacrifice. After taking over the operations helm at Delta, he was faced with keeping the airline afloat and employees/unions secure while fighting off a huge corporate takeover by a competing airline. He did this through a policy of open communication, complete transparency and by treating every single employee like “they mattered” ...more
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is another book on moving from autocratic leadership to open, inspiring, and communal leadership. It uses the idea of open sourcing. The reason this book separates itself from others is that there is a lot here that can be used to motivate free agency and meritocracy.
Mike Randall
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm biased since I work for the company, so a review likely isn't appropriate.
Demetris Cheatham
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, for writing a book about the working environment that calls to my true nature! Within the 200 pages of The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance, he was able to define the seemingly nontraditional and unorthodox management style that I’ve utilized throughout my career. There are no hierarchies, the best ideas win, processes and structure are frowned upon and you are in charge of your own executive buy in. No matter where you fall within ...more
Douglas Brown
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Practical management of a collaborative organization

Hundreds of authors have generated thousands of books urging leaders to move beyond hierarchical forms. They all assure us that we will feel much better about ourselves if we do but few of them offer any suggestions for how this will actually work. This book is the exception, providing some insights into the actual management approaches used in collaboration at scale. Jim Whitehurst is also unapologetic about the fact that this is no simple
Allie Weiskopf
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leadership
Surprisingly full of good leadership advice - a book that advocates looking down, not up — in order to be successful. The CEO of Red Hat discusses employee engagement, peer-to-peer management, taking time to listen to what’s needed/wanted, and the need to focus more on caring for people than achievement. Other gems of wisdom include: 1) technology doesn’t drive engagement, leaders do; 2) take care of people and they’ll take care of you, but don’t coddle - enforce accountability; 3) lavishly ...more
María Salas
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm sitting on the airport waiting for my mom as I write this review.

I really liked this book, it felt real, sincere and it was fucking inspiring.

Many things left me happy about this book, two in particular:
1) I'm taking a promising path in my career
2) The company I work at, and specially my team, have many important characteristics that are mentioned throughout this book and I admit it's part of what fuels my monday to friday life there.

A big and secret shoutout to my boss for being "the open
Cezary Zminkowski
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very good book, showing the vision where you might want to be with your organization if you do things right as servant leader with self organized fully engaged teams and individuals. A lot of similarity with book "Creativity Inc" where Creativity is about Pixar vs Disney culture differences between two organizations one fully Agile an the other fully corporate, same Open Organization book compares RedHat culture with AirLine corporate culture.

worth reading but same like Creativity Inc and few
Mario Sailer
The book is quite inspiring, but not very concrete. Jim Whitehurst talks a lot about what they to and why they do it at Red Hat, but when it comes to how they do it, he pretty much stays on the surface.

And, in my opinion there is a little flaw in the book, which I have to address as a German. He seems to confuse the OODA loop from John Boyd (the depiction of which resembles more the PDCA-Cycle form William Edwards Deming in the book) with the strategy process that Helmut von Molke developed for
Carlos Martínez Gadea
This book has cleared my path towards the foundation of my current project to a level I never expected before. The way it deals with team work, management, vision of a company, monetization and personal fulfillment (for the people involved in a project) it's simply brilliant.

I appreciate as well the transparency that infuses the author on the way he talks about all the previous topics. He is very honest and that is an aptitude that not many people have and which is very well needed (IMHO).
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Red Hat has a unique and possibly revolutionary business model, enabled by new forms of technology and organization. If you are looking for a deep dive into how they pull this off you’re unfortunately going to have to write it yourself, or find some good blogs. If on he other hand you want a fluffy feel good piece of drivel about the magical properties of open source software, eat your heart out.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic read. I wish my leadership in all of my precious employers had understood the concepts here, and enabled my team to accomplish everything that we could have. We would have accomplished far more this way than in our limited and constricting environments, and retained the good people longer.
Tom Boonen
Interesting open explanation on how Jim whitehurst experienced the unique red hat culture of an open source community that generates real customer value at a fraction of the cost of traditional software companies.
Tom Simmons
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book on the future of organizations. Red Hat has created an open culture that is leading to great innovation and passion in its employees.
Flo Neamţiu
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve joined Red Hat last year but only got the chance to read the book of our CEO now.
Happy to see what lays behind the amazing culture that makes me love my job.
Dave Pusey
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating concepts. A little repetitive but helpful!
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for every management personnel

This books contradicts everything we have learnt at business schools and challenges us to take the opposite approach for better results.
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Open, honest, authentic, passionate, responsive and fast leadership is today’s melody and this can be essential for any company that wishes to thrive, yet still so many companies don’t get it (particularly the larger enterprises) and they wonder why things can often run sub-optimally or degenerate. An “Open Organization” is key, rightly claims the author.

This book is his professional story, his passion and his insight all mixed into one powerful, yet comparatively small book. It tells how any
Piotr Uryga
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-read-books

Book that shows you how to build organization based on merit and not on hierarchy. Will be useful even for those who are in hierarchical organization.

It reminded me how important is to spend a lot of time explaining reasoning for your actions, it's never wasted time. Employees want and can understand business if you spend enough time explaining it to bridge information gap between leadership and employees.

It also stresses that meritocracy is not democracy. One's influence over decisions is
Kael Shipman
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Oof. I was so excited when I started this book! Finally, someone was going to eloquently bridge the gap, explaining why open source is not just a way to develop software, but is instead part of an inevitable future societal philosophy championed by the millennial generation. But no. This book is like your dad coming in and talking about Regina Spektor music. He knows he likes it -- it's got a great beat that he can tap his foot to, and he really gets the lyrics -- but it's not his world. It's ...more
Andy Oram
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: technology
I think Whitehurst does an excellent job presenting the Internet-age mode of interaction for a business leader, translating concepts of transparency and grassroots activism into concepts that appeal to managers, such as “employee motivation” and “change management.” (To summarize the book very broadly: bring all stakeholders into important decision-making processes, and both motivation and change management will follow.) There are many books about the free and open source software movements, and ...more
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is written by the CEO of Red Hat - a large public company.

The main points of the book are as follows:

- To arrive at the best possible decisions, involve other people in the decision making process and encourage debate.

- As a leader it is very important to guy buy-in for your decisions which basically mean people have to be on board with them and understand why they were made. Once again, involving people in the decision making process is a really good way of achieving that.

- Its
Wayne Sun
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well, it's on the reading list because it's quite relevant for me as a frontline engineer and hierarchical bottom worker working for the company. Always perceive the job as hard and great much commitment you need to put in for achieve goal here, the passion and engagement required get things done could be exhausting as need continually pushing yourself for continues improvements and incremental enhancement, while you may face bureaucracy not meritocracy even though the book is pushing ideal open ...more
Ivan Kulis
Mar 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book gives an interesting insight into how Red Hat builds engagement, organises work and makes decisions. Given there are not many books unpacking the "open organisation" box, this is an important contribution (it merits an extra star just for that). However, I was hoping for some more insight into specific mechanisms and practices. While Whitehurst includes a rich set of anecdotes, the "key takeaways" at the end of each chapter sound superficial and the book occasionally looks repetitive.
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