— OpenSourceInitiative (@OpenSourceOrg) April 11, 2017
Many people assume that being open is all about giving things away. Therefore it is about loss, not something that the business-minded would willingly engage in. I think it is important therefore that we share some of the unexpected gains that result from open practices.
I was brought up in business, my parents were local business people and I wrote here about the importance of reputation to the business world. We are witnessing the power and influence of social media channels transforming the dynamics of business right now, Facebook and Instagram are good examples of how creating a successful brand does not rely on the cost of your product but rather on the value proposition it offers to its users. This can change quickly if the service or products you supply are no longer considered good value or if you undermine your brand through misuse or misbehaviour. Customers are always right, they can be notoriously fickle, that is their right.
As a teacher, I choose to practise as openly as I can for ethical reasons. I belong to a community of practice (language education) and I value interaction with my peers and students beyond the immediate borders of classroom walls or institutional constraints. I need international interaction if it is to inform my teaching, languages don't stand still! I have a wide personal learning network who connect with me through twitter and other online open platforms, we contribute to our mutual learning. Education, like medicine, relies on sharing practice in order to reap benefits.
And so back to unexpected gains of openness:
- connections increase our influence and help us become aware of future possibilities
- there is a huge cost to closed: just look at how much brands pay to legal teams to safeguard copyright in the digital age!
- innovation and creativity flourish where ideas are shared and people collaborate.
Counter intuitively, the more power you give away, the stronger you become.