The Influence Of Open Source On Organizational Behavior

The open source movement has had an undoubted impact on the software development industry, but it’s also had an impact on the way organizations behave.  In it’s recent Open Source Culture Survey, software company Red Hat wanted to explore just how influential open source has been.

The company surveyed around 150 senior decision makers from over 30 countries and numerous industries to examine how mindsets and priorities are changing.  The survey produced a number of key findings.

Digital transformation is changing business inside and out. Most respondents agreed that developments in tech are changing the way organizations in their industry must operate in order to succeed (91%).

As a result, business should look different in the next few years. Most respondents’ organizations are already implementing change management plans (52%) or have developed plans, but haven’t initiated them yet (10%). When asked if they are planning to make significant changes to the way people work together, respondents shared that they plan to make changes in the next 6 months (30%), in the next year (23%), and in the next 2-3 years (14%).

In those change management plans, IT is the top priority. A large majority of respondents identified IT as the top area that has attempted or will be attempting a culture change (84%). Other key areas are human resources (24%), leadership training (23%), finance (12%) and marketing (12%).

There’s value in the open source way. Red Hat has structured much of its culture after the open source communities that we work in and their values are often similar to our values – transparency, inclusivity, adaptability, collaboration and community. We believe these values are core to any open culture and survey respondents showed that they are key to their change efforts. Respondents ranked transparency as either extremely important (29%) or very important (45%). Collaboration followed with respondents ranking it extremely important (35%) or very important (33%). Next was community with 24% ranking it extremely important and 40% ranking it very important and adaptability with 26% ranking it extremely important and 38% ranking it very important. Finally, inclusivity came is with 18% rating it extremely important and 36% saying it is very important.

While respondents see the value in the open source way, there are barriers to culture change. 81% of respondents agree that having an open organizational culture is important to their company. However, only 67% of respondents said that their organization has the resources necessary to build an open culture. Legacy systems and outdated technology are creating barriers for change. More than half of respondents (59%) identify this as one of their organization’s challenges when implementing culture change, next to siloed departments/teams (54%) and budgetary issues (51%). Other challenges include hierarchical management structure (43%), lack of employee buy-in (33%) and reluctance to share knowledge and data (25%).

The organization of the future is built on collaboration and open communication. Fostering a more collaborative work environment (54%) and encouraging open dialogue and feedback across all levels and departments (46%) are the top changes respondents are already making or plan to make. Respondents are also planning to enhance transparency of internal communications and data (38%), rethink managerial practices and structures (31%) and re-evaluate organizational mission and purpose (22%) to bring more openness to their organizational cultures.