If running global open source leader Red Hat wasn’t taxing enough already … CEO Jim Whitehurst continues to contemplate the many challenges facing corporations as they seek to manage ongoing digital disruption. He shares some of those thoughts in a new book.

Just a year after publishing “The Open Organization,” Whitehurst has published “Catalyst-in-Chief” in partnership with Raleigh-based Lulu.

The book is an effort to share insights Whitehurst says he and other leaders have gained through the management and employee culture that permeates the Raleigh-based company. Playing off the concept of collaboration through “open source,” which is the bread-and-butter of the Linux operating system on which the Red Hat empire is based, The Open Organization was intended to help evangelize the Red Hat method.

A CEO can be a catalyst for change if he or she puts in place an organization that is open to all ranks for innovative input.

“Organizational structure—how you work, the culture that permeates and guides all your activities—matters more than ever,” Whitehurst says. “That’s because it’s the most important factor in a group’s ability to produce new and exciting innovations, and today, that ability to innovate is without a doubt one of the most valuable resources an organization can harness as it tries to gain competitive advantage.”

Open Organization, which was published by the prestigious Harvard Business Review Press, earned Whitehurst a lot of global media attention – and followers. But the preaching wasn’t done – nor was the evolvement of the Open organization method. Like Linux, it continues to evolve, and Whitehurst returns to the bully pulpit of the press to update the message.

“Since writing The Open Organization, I’ve found it extremely important to continue thinking, writing, and talking about both the changes we face and the promise open source thinking holds for helping us navigate them,” Whitehurst writes in a glob published Tuesday.

“Quite simply, the past 12 months have been a year of wonderful conversations about the open organization. They’ve been filled with insights, questions—and, yes, even a few doubts—about the shape the future of work will take.”

This book (which can be downloaded free of charge or bought from Lulu for $5) is not nearly as in depth as Open Organization, coming in at 50 pages.

But Whitehurst believes that’s plenty of length to strengthen the message he wants to spread.

“Red Hat President and CEO Jim Whitehurst explains what the community of innovative thinkers, writers, and practitioners that coalesced around his writing have taught him about the future of management and work,” says the promotional blurb.

“Catalyst-In-Chief collects Jim’s contributions to the ongoing conversation about the ways open source principles can form the bedrock of the twenty-first century’s most innovative organizations—and teaches tomorrow’s leaders what they’ll need to make those organizations great.”

The cause lives on

In his blog, Whitehurst stresses again a key point made in the first book: Creating a management/corporate structure that can drive innovation – and also have the flexibility to deal with ongoing disruption.

“Important challenges remain,” he writes.

“Think of the pyramid I sketched in The Open Organization to explain the way networked organizations should rethink management’s core dynamics. Open organizations, I said, always begin with ‘why’ —with instilling passion and purpose in everyone who joins them—so that mission becomes the driver of innovation. That’s the base of the pyramid, the foundation. That passion, purpose, and engagement “bubble up” to the top of the pyramid, which is concerned with ‘what’—what leadership does to create the most fitting and productive contexts for that passionate work.

“In the middle of the pyramid is “how,” the concrete and specific activities that occur when leaders-as-catalysts and associates-as-engaged-participants meet. It’s that middle part that continues to prove most mysterious and elusive to organizations today. How specifically can we develop tactics to harness and direct passion and performance? How can we systematize our most successful structures? And how do we share our best practices and our failures?

“These are the questions that will drive the second year of conversations about open organizations. You can play an important role in those conversations. At the conclusion of this book, you’ll find resources and avenues for connecting with the open organization community, so you can chat, think, and learn with us.”

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