The Open Organization

I was recently going through few of the Farnam Street articles, and I landed on the article on how to read a book, where they basically describe how to read a book;  the fact that there are types of books, and the fact that books can, in the words of Francis Bacon “be gulped, some books chewed and others digested.”

This basically signifies the intensity and the level of awareness to have when you are reading a book. I have gulped lots of books, but The Open Organization is one of those, that I wanted to chew on.

I wanted to learn about how you can build an ecosystem where people are free to voice their opinions, where failure is be worn as a badge of honor for trying. This book filled me with thoughts of how would it be like, if an organization is really an Open Organization.

There are a lots of beautiful anecdotes that I came across, and a lot of values that were given in the book to think on.

The book talks about Purpose and Passion. People specially us Millenials,have been spoiled to an extent that we actually don’t run after money but after a purpose, after a problem. We don’t mind working crazy hours and being paid peanuts, but we do care about people, we care about how are we treated, we care about the problem we are after. One of the quotes in the book says Basis of loyalty is a common purpose and not economic dependency. A lot of people I know believe in this. When you unite with an organization which is after the same problem as you, it’s a match made in heaven.

The book talks about Passion, the passion about doing good, making a dent in the universe, but sometimes you realize Universe doesn’t give a damn .

One of the most amazing analogies, is when the book compares a structure of an organization with web architecture which is end to end and not center to end. Where there is no central point of control but there should be a central point of co-ordination. The organization is lead by leaders it selects, where Meritocracy is the idea behind every decision.

The other idea that was completely new to me was the difference between Crowd-sourcing and Open-sourcing.To be honest I had not thought open source to be a business model until the recent past. The thing with the wisdom of the crowd is that it works amazingly well when the work can be easily disagregated and individuals can work in relative isolation. I love the point in the book that says members of the organization should be inspired by the leader and not motivated. Motivation is something they already have and that is the reason they are joining your organization. I love this idea a lot because I have seen people complaining about their employees not being motivated enough. I think that this (lack of inspired leadership) is a reason.

“Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them.” – Simon Sinek

I really enjoyed the way the power of purpose is laid out in the book. The other idea was the idea of Meritocracy.  I think of  merit as having an amazing idea and idea being the sole reason for doing a certain action. Better ideas win, they are questioned and deliberated upon and that is how innovation happens in the organization. People debate over it, question it, trash it. People just don’t settle for something to avoid conflict. That very same complacency however is what has creeped into organizations where people don’t debate ideas just to avoid conflict so that everyone remains happy. It was so amazing to read stories where someone thought out of the box and wanted to bring in a new way of doing things and how he convinced everyone that this is the right way of doing things, we ought to give it a try.

This book pushes back on the belief in hierarchy and brings to limelight lateral structure, letting people know that the conventional ways of running an organization might have to change, upgrade as it were, to a newer version.

I got a lot of amazing ideas and to be honest I got to know how a person in an organization should be treated. I was awestruck with the insights in the book. Wish someday I could mould an organization in this way. Theories are always romantic, hope the execution and implementation is beautiful as well.

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