Firstly, openness is increasingly deemed to be a good thing, which I mostly agree with. And yet these things are never binary, and I’ve been very interested in the recent discussions about the end of privacy, in the wake of the recent major data leak by Sony, wiki-leaks, the super injunctions case in the UK right now, and the whole rise of Open Data as championed by the likes of Tim Berners-Lee.
And yet I find it irrefutable that greater transparency must lead to greater accountability in all walks of life, which is indeed a good thing. Yet there are clearly major issues yet to be resolved but on balance I believe openness enforces great responsibility on individuals and institutions as we can no longer run away from our reputations.
Secondly, our name begs the question ‘How open are we, and how open should we be?’. Procter and Gamble famously have a target for 50% of new product and service ideas to have external input. By comparison, our name implies going twice as far as one of the market leaders which stimulates an interesting discussion as to whether this is wise, possible or profitable. If nothing else it’s a very stretching target, which is almost certainly unachievable but required careful consideration as to how far you want to open up.
Lastly, I’ve been mildly delightly that our name surprises and sometime scares people a bit – and it’s always good to solicit a reaction. I’ve been surprised how often people say ‘to be 100%Open with you’ in meetings and go on to tell us something interesting or insightful. Therefore the name almost invites communication which can only a good thing.
Finding the Line
I guess most of us have been on a journey (please pardon the cliche – can’t think of a better word) in the last few years when embracing social media on deciding what to share and what to keep private. That line is different for everybody but in my case, I’ve surprised myself how much I want and even need to share, and so that line is further out than I perhaps thought it might be. And I may have unusual friends but I think that applies to most people too. And yet I think most organisations are only just beginning on that process of opening up and don’t have a clear idea of where to draw the line – namely what to share and what to keep back – which is where open innovation comes in.
What is often frustrating is we’d like to be more open about what we are doing but are generally bound by other people’s nervousness about opening up, not our own, but we honour that and recognise that it takes time to change and certainly don’t want to scare people off by being too open. Yet it’s a fine line between respecting organisations traditions verses shooting yourself in the foot by being secretive for secrecy’s sake.
Anyway, in summary I think in the not too distant future, smart organisations will default to open (as opposed to defaulting to closed ways of working). What I mean by that is they will automatically assume that their organisation is entirely porous and all data is to be shared proactively as a matter of course, whilst certain commercial and sensitive data will be restricted on a ‘need not to know basis’.
Therefore, I think strictly speaking we should call ourselves 93%Open, but that would of course be pedantic and a bit silly. But hey, as somebody moderately famous once said, what’s in a name?
by Roland Harwood