Inspiration: – How Red Hat found its mission—the open source way

Posted on 19/08/2011


Jim Whitehurst skriver på

One of the things that attracted me to Red Hat in the first place was that it was a company with a strong sense of purpose. Red Hat was a company full of believers, people who felt that the open source development model was simply a better way.

During my first few months as CEO, I traveled to Red Hat offices around the world and was often floored by the passion people felt about the company. I began to ask myself, how can we bottle this passion? Can we channel all of this energy and point it in the same direction?

In my experience, one of the most important tools of management is a core company mission that helps the company point all of its resources and energy toward a set of positive outcomes. That mission should answer two questions—what we are trying to do and how we are going to do it— in a simple way that any employee can understand.

When I arrived at Red Hat, there was already a vision for the company (Red Hat called it a raison d’etre) and it read as follows:

“To be the defining technology company of the 21st century, and through our actions strengthen the social fabric by continually democratizing content and technology.”

This was a heady statement. It showed the scale of our ambition—to be the defining technology company of the 21st century—but, as I began to discuss it with employees around the company, I got the distinct impression many people didn’t understand what it meant or what it was telling them to do. Meanwhile, as is often the case in an open source organization like Red Hat, a passionate group of folks had come together and were already thinking about how to solve the problem.

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Posted in: Inspiration