Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of Linux and open-source solutions for businesses. According to former Executive Vice President for Strategy and Corporate Marketing, Jackie Yeaney, Red Hat’s “deeply entrenched and open source-inspired culture” meant that traditional strategic planning methods would not work. What would? Collaboration – open-sourcing the strategy. Yeaney quoted the old open source adage, “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” Not surprisingly, Red Hat’s strategic planning model depends on tapping into the company’s collective brainpower. The surprising part is not that some organizations do this; it’s that more do not.
Establishing ownership and purpose
When strategy building employs a collaborative process, the result is a greater sense of ownership in the resulting strategy and sense of purpose around efforts to complete the initiatives. Rather than telling other employees what the strategy is, you are inviting them to help create it. That difference is incredibly powerful. As well, you are able to have more voices and more minds working towards the same goal.
In setting the context for your strategy, you are working to identify:
- opportunities facing your organization
- risks to achieving your goals
- obstacles barring you from maximizing the potential opportunities
- internal and external assets that will help you achieve your goals
Collectivity or individuality
From a process viewpoint, you could do this by yourself in your office and probably develop some “right” answers. But would you get the answers you need?
The best answers come from considering different perspectives, from different mindsets, based on a collection of different experiences. Individually, they provide some distinct and discrete threads of logic. Together, they weave a rich tapestry of shared understanding. Perhaps someone can identify a risk or challenge to which you are blind, while someone else has an approach for leveraging an opportunity that didn’t even enter your mind.
Extra effort pays off… big time!
As the saying goes, “You can never please all of the people all of the time.” A collaborative approach can take more time and coordination. And without effective direction, it can devolve into an effort to make everyone happy. Red Hat deals with this by “not bubbling every decision up to the senior executive level.” Despite the extra work, Yeaney confirmed that this approach has helped them generate more creativity, accountability, commitment, flexibility, and adaptability.
With a collaborative foundation for your strategic planning, the process promises to generate a plan that will be more capable of achieving your intended future than with any plan that relies on processes that begin and end at the top.