Opening Up

Does our future lie in being open? Charlene Li, Thursday’s keynote speaker certainly thinks so. Her talk, on the impact of social media in your organization, started with the story of David Carroll, a Canadian musician whose guitar was broken by United Airlines baggage handlers. He wrote a song about the experience, made a music video, and put it up on YouTube. It quickly went viral, much to the dismay of United, one presumes. To Li, this illustrates the importance of social media and the clout of our culture of sharing. “We must have the confidence to let go, to give up the need to be in control,” she said.

She then listed the elements of openness as explaining, updating, conversing, open mic, and platform. The new decision making model is distributed rather than the old command and control model. Push out decision making to staff. Think open source in decision making.

How to get started in being an open leader? Start with defining your open strategy. You can’t just be a brand, Li told us, you must be in the conversation. Then you should understand the benefits of openness. Facebook fans, for example, only have value if they do something. Next build trust and manage risks, orchestrate openness, and find and nurture open leaders. Finally plan to fail well.

Li ended by saying that open leaders nurture curiosity and are humble. They should hold openness accountable and forgive failure.

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