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Open means different things to different people. To some, open source and open innovation mean free access and a requirement to return enhancements back to a broader community. But businesses ask, where’s the competitive advantage? How can the two paradigms co-exist, for mutual benefit?

Join Gary Hamel, strategy and management author, as he talks with Henry Chesbrough, executive director of the Center for Open Innovation at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, about the state of Open Innovation in a webcast hosted by and the Management Innovation eXchange. The live webcast will be held Thursday, November 11 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. ET.

Chesbrough argues that companies do better when they look outside their organizations for new ideas and he’s followed the efforts of companies that strike a balance between giving back to the community while seeking a competitive edge in their industries. In his upcoming book, Open Services Innovation: Rethinking Your Business to Grow and Compete in a New Era, he explores the ways that service industries are adapting to this paradigm.

Red Hat President and CEO, Jim Whitehurst, recently participated in a panel discussion on Open Innovation at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on October 29. He talked extensively about Red Hat’s business model and how open source, by involving a global community of contributors and more importantly its customers is changing the way software is developed. It allows for faster innovation in the software itself, because of the distributed nature of development and the sheer mass of people working on the code – engaging contributors both inside and outside of Red Hat. Whitehurst argued that the open source software principles can be applied across many different industries in order to achieve more rapid innovation.

During the panel, Whitehurst also reflected on the many ways – both big and small - that Red Hat strives to be a catalyst for innovation. One simple but profound example is what Red Hatters call Memo-List. Upon starting employment with Red Hat every associate is automatically subscribed to this company-wide internal mailing list, where they are encouraged to discuss any topic relevant to the company or industry. Often associates take the opportunity to engage in spirited discussion, idea exchange, rants, raves and reviews. While the idea of an internal message board of sorts might not be that revolutionary in iteself, what is intriguing is that Red Hat’s executive leadership and management pay close attention to associates’ ideas, posts and threads presented on the list. In many companies, executives might be opposed to having hot topics or company challenges discussed in such an open fashion across the entire associate base. Red Hat uses it as a positive way to get feedback from associates to continuously improve and innovate within the company.

Among the topics of discussion during the Open Services Innovation webcast include:

  • The challenge of the commodity trap for businesses
  • How services can help companies escape the commodity trap
  • How openness can make services more sustainable and differentiated
  • How business models have to change, in order to innovate services

What: Open Services Innovation
A Webcast with Henry Chesbrough and Gary Hamel

When: Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010
1:30-2:30 p.m. ET


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