I was talking with a critical friend and non exec the other day and he was pressing me on why 100%Open is different or better than other approaches, and whether there really is an appetite for more openness in big business. After some reflection, I believe it’s about a distinctive approach which we can call ‘open thinking’.
What do I mean by that? It’s part attitude, part technique.
An open mind doesn’t prejudge people or ideas and an open attitude expands this concept. Having an open attitude means you can start each day/job/conversation with a fresh perspective. This wide-eyed approach to life is of course complemented by narrow-eyed critical faculties and analytical thinking. But I find it helps to consciously hold off the analysis until later. Many business thinkers and management consultancies trade in analysis. Nothing wrong with that in its place. It’s just that it’s only half the story. Such firms don’t have a reputation for innovation and this is because the prized attitude is critical thinking. My mum always said it’s easy to criticise and she is always right about everything…
The other defining characteristic of an open attitude is empathy. An open attitude seeks partnerships as a default position and it is very hard to do this without a good understanding of what your partners want and why. We coined the phrase ‘business empathy’ at an open innovation conference at Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing recently and I hope it will stick.
A google search of ‘open thinking’ is fascinating and I recommend it. Here’s one slant from a Dr. Couros. “Open thinkers advocate for the adoption of open technologies and practice. Open thinkers critique, question and seek to reject technologies or formats that compromise the power of adopters, especially in the freedom to use, reuse, edit and share creative works and tools.” We are witnessing a quiet revolution in how people do business together, with the trail being blazed by the open source software movement. Their open attitudes to IP, collective decision-making and employment are prescient. The wiki generation that is now entering the workforce around the world will ensure that open techniques become mainstream.
What does open thinking mean in practice for 100%Open? It’s still early days, but our tools and processes default to public and shared. Our programmes are transparent and our networks wide. We don’t have a permanent office and prefer to work with others in a loose and mutually beneficial network. We prefer to collaborate rather than compete. We use cloud-based computing and have a wireless life. We like brainstorming and collaborative project design.
We are also open to suggestion.