Chris J Powell

How "Open" is your Business? Take a Lesson from Open Source

The weekends are always a bit of a challenge for me as I am dragging myself out of bed later, not preparing my skull cap for a day of complex customer questions or well really doing anything other than reading my new found kindle collection and running around the city acting as a chauffeur.  It is actually amazing where inspiration comes from though.


The concept that a company is open for business is nothing new and it doesn’t matter if that business in hard at work making widgets, providing a service or a mall kiosk selling cell phone accessories being open and being truly open are two completely different things.  I was thumbing through some saved articles that I had noticed over from my friends at (nice new digs by the way…really simple to navigate).

In a post kept deep in their Blog Roll I noticed a reference to and an article Four ways open source principles can improve your business and having read that and then tracking back some insights that I have gathered in working with Human Resources Professionals I am starting to see a lot of correlation between the challenges that they have in being taken seriously and that which products that brandish the OSI or the FSF model also face from the same upper tiers of Business and IT Professionals.

So how can I write an article about my true passion in technology and relate it back to my new challenge in daily employment…well it is time for a little button pushing that is to say the least.  In introducing core best practice research to Human Resources Professionals I have noticed that they are collectively (some generalizations will be made here so I apologize in advance for any offense taken) are passionate about their jobs and their roles but feel trapped and under appreciated.  From some background research on their jobs (I have never been a big fan of HR so I never really paid much attention) I became aware for the first time that they are slaves to two masters…the Business on one side and the Employees on the other.

If we look to the model that was laid out in the Four ways open source principles can improve your business article to Human Resources we can look at just the 4 key principles and how it can alter the view point from the outside in as well as the connection from the inside out.


Be transparent

This may seem to be a no brainer right but I have worked a lot of jobs in a lot of industries and HR was either not available or sat comfortably behind closed doors or 100’s of kilometers away and did not want to be bothered with day to day issues.  One of the most common results that have come from Employee Engagement engagements that we have done is that there is a general disconnect between the Senior Leadership of companies today and the people who drive the success of the business forward.  People First is a nice rallying charge for the company picnic but putting profits first is one that happens each quarter during the earnings reports.  HR can be that layer of transparency…the voice of the employee but at the same time the moderator and communicator of the Corporate vision.

Building a connection from the C-Level executives to the newest employees is key to long term viability and true success within a business and HR holds the keys to be able to do that.


A culture of openness (including doors)

Openness…as I mentioned just because your business is open to commerce but opening all the doors and revealing the Source Code behind the brain trust that can really foster a true connection from top to bottom and side to side.  The Openness of OSS (Open Source Software) is what has always intrigued me.  I have never really dove into the source code of Linux and tried to make changes but I love the idea that if I chose to participate more in the community that is Open Source, I know that I would be freely accepted and my input big or small appreciated by that community.


Every idea is equal

There is an old adage that there are no stupid questions only stupid answers and while in principle, I would agree there have been some real whoppers that I have fielded both in my time as a Technical Support Professional but also since moving into sales.  Ideas though are things that can really move things forward.  Just as an openness can foster communication…knowing that there is value in the input from different sources is key to sustainable success.  How better for HR to identify future succession plans than to embrace the concept of collaboration in an open format.


Host and foster collaboration

Technology has made it easier than ever to really and truly collaborate and collectively share.  Pushing this new culture and really embracing the concept can make a real difference.  I have several prospective clients who ware in HR and have 0% support from an IT Department but they are pushing and fostering a culture of collaboration in their companies.  I am quickly finding that when I get my “GEEK” on with these true professionals they actually get it.  HR can be a bridge builder and really look to this new culture across departments when they is a need for project teams.

Have a great weekend everyone.


Chris J Powell

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