Embracing Open Transformation

A few thoughts on Open Transformation and why organizations should embrace it.

Embracing Open Transformation

"Magic doesn’t require beauty,’ she said. 'Easy magic is pretty. Great magic asks that you trouble the waters. It requires a disruption, something new."
― Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

It’s been a while since my last post. To get back on the saddle, I want to tell you a story, as you may assume by the title, about Open Transformation. The funny thing is that this article’s title does not describe my true feelings about the topic at hand; a much appropriate title should be something like this: "The process of embracing Open (Digital) Transformation. Or things that I believe will change IT forever… or at least for a couple of decades."

But let us be realistic; who will click on a blog post with a title that long? If you though: me! Then, this blog is for you!

Let me tell you the worst kept secret about IT Transformation:

Having the best software in the world will not make a difference if you don’t evolve how your organization functions.

Every time that I tell this super-secret, I get the usual answer: “We are doing that already; we are on the journey of transforming.”

Have you thought about taking a different path to Digital Transformation? An approach more cohesive? A path that will help you to grow more organically? You could do this by embracing Open Transformation.

But what is Open Transformation? Is this another new thing?

Defining Open Transformation

Before we get deep into the weeds of Open Transformation, there are two main concepts that we need to define:

  • open technologies
  • open organization

The first definition is easy and straightforward: open technologies translate into open-source software and practices.

There is no better source for the second than to cite a book by Jim Whitehurst (President of IBM and Red Hat’s ex-CEO): The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance. In this book, Whitehurst defines an open organization as "an organization that engages participative communities both inside and out –- responds to opportunities more quickly, has access to resources and talent outside the organization, and inspires, motivates, and empowers people at all levels to act with accountability."

In a nutshell, open transformation happens when open technologies and an open organization are combined.

And no, it is not a new thing. My employer, Red Hat, believes and embraces this philosophy every day. Red Hat (and myself) believes that a business that organically becomes an open organization and adopts open source technologies (including an open-source development model) can foster innovation and create real disruption in the market. I, personally, can’t find a better success story example than Red Hat Itself .

Foundational Pillars

What describes a business that adopts open transformation?

  • At their core, they should combine open technologies, people, and practices.
  • Their transformation process should aim to change the whole business, just not a segment within it.
  • They embrace the use of new open technologies to affect the business process and culture at scale. E.g., cloud-native development leveraging open source tools and practices.
  • It is paramount to go beyond technology and change their ways of working by adopting open practices.
  • They should define and measure the business outcome. Understand that transformation success only comes from a results-driven philosophy.

What about Culture?

Culture is a big deal! A key component in the process of adopting open transformation. It dictates how the business’s vision is collated and communicated from the top, but how the motor that runs it: innovation, and ideas are fostered from the bottom up.

Open culture will be essential to create an identity, improve how the organization communicates, collaborates, and evolves in response to new challenges. Lets be clear, no open culture means no open organization, no open transformation. That simple.


I want to wrap up this blog post with some food for thought:

  1. To be successful in any large-scale transformation process, you will need the right leadership.
  2. Digital Transformation is more than adopting new software and changing reporting structures.
  3. "Every company is a software company". You won’t survive without creating a sustained competitive advantage, and software is key to that.
  4. By adopting open technologies, practices, and an open organization, you will revolutionize the way your business works and innovates. You will be able to create value for both internal and external customers.

The best way to learn more about Open Transformation and how to start your journey is by visiting https://www.redhat.com/en/solutions/digital-transformation or contacting Red Hat.