Learning about open leadership

My favourite principle from GDS is the tenth; Make things open – it makes things better 

Some might suggest I embraced this concept before GDS were a twinkle in Martha’s eye 🙂 It was something I encouraged at Jisc setting up their blog network and back in the mists of time I remember Joss Winn and Tony Hirst preparing their bid document for Jisc funding for JiscPress entirely openly and thinking we were really on to something (as it happens Joss & Tony were outliers – shock eh! – and it never really caught on.)

When I properly started to understand the thinking behind really working in the open though was during my couple of year flirtation with the Mozilla Foundation – primarily through helping out with their Festival.

As it happens my interests have diverged from those of Mozilla but I was lucky enough to meet a number of their staff – people like Mark Surman are genuinely inspirational and I still believe the organisation is a force for good on the web (despite some stumbles in the last couple of years). Their commitment to working in the open though is pretty much unparalleled and over the years I have learned a lot from that work.

Matt Thompson was one of the Mozilla folk I interacted with most online and met a few times in person – his blog is a constant source of thought provoking material (http://openmatt.org/) and his Twitter sobriquet of Open Matt is well earned.

Allen ‘Gunner’ Gunn has been ringmaster in chief at all the Mozilla Festivals. He is an interesting mix of personalities with the very US West Coast ‘everything is AWESOME’ slightly tech hippy tone softening the fact that he is a skilled facilitator and organiser who manages to herd (very) large numbers of over caffeinated geeks, often hungover, sometimes jet-lagged, regularly anti-authority geeks with aplomb (and often without them realising they are being herded!) Honestly my first encounter with him I found it pretty cringe-worthy – the words awesome and love-bomb are really not in my vocabulary but there is no doubting his skills and over the next couple of years I started to better understand the method under what I saw as madness!

Anyway that was a very long intro basically to say I highly recommend you read this interview of Gunner undertaken by Matt. It gives an amazing insight in to the opportunities and challenges of working in the open at any kind of scale and introduced me to the idea of ‘roadies not rockstars’ which I love and will be using in the future.

I also love this quote and believe it is something that more people need to truly understand before more organisations make the leap in to working openly;

Granting agency is not the same as inviting anarchy.


The featured image is: All rights reserved by markleepower Used with permission.


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