Red Hat CEO Turned IBM President Jim Whitehurst Drives Cultural Change


For too long into the red hat experience. But but how i'd be fascinated understand now yet a new culture a very different one from red hats After the acquisition talk about your own personal journey going from that dynamism of the red hat experience to the much larger organization different culture of ibm. Yeah sure i'm right in the middle of it. So i can spend a ton of time on Five hours on it or we'd spent five minutes so i'll start with a little bit. You know so what. I think i learned over time is out. I would argue. Delta airlines not was on the board of united now is incredibly well run company and it has a culture that would have killed red. Hat's red hat is a very well run company and it has a culture that would kill delta different. I'm gonna get together culture up at operating model because you're operating models really what drives cultures so it's leadership style behaviors sure banishment processes to org structure all electric culture. So i'm gonna munch those together. We had time. I can try to tease those apart. Let me just start off with those things together. A bit so in observation there is many companies have developed the operating model culture to dry standardization efficiency. Right that's what delta did the recent delta's the most on time airline at least the majors is because we spent a lotta time driving a ton of efficiency standardization. You're everything you're doing about how you take variance out and that's great for driving efficiency. Not really good for driving innovation because innovation is frankly all about driving variance in and so i got to red hat. What i thought was chaos. Lovely before i kill the i learned over. Time was just a relatively. Extreme way to trotted drive a faster pace of innovation and you know just taking the extremes the operating model delta. It's a single digit margin business where you are running very own. We wanna take in the last piece lettuce office salad. You'd get a salad. I mean you're like really really you know. It's a tough business in the software business if you get a winning product it money. Any software products gross margins are ninety plus percent if it's a winner jimmy lot of money so the question is will generate a winner and so once the innovation model that likely to try to write set of stuff where you ultimately ended up with winter. And so you know. I think for even how i spent every day at church at delta versus read different the cultures were is just the whole models are set up differently and so fast forward to that has one of the reasons why i have moved over to be. President of ibm is not because we want to drive red hats culture to be. Ibm's culture because ibm as a lot of services businesses we Mainframe hardware bunch of other things. But we want to try elements of the. I read culture in ibm. And the reason. I start off with that. Preamble and i encourage every company around. This ought to be really really chris. There is no better and worse. Culture operating model there are cultures and models that are used for different things. And here's the trick. Most companies a even red hat at both right you know we still had accounts payable processes and other things where we frankly didn't need all that innovation those standardize delta you want no innovation safety procedures before your trust me No examination there on the website you want experimentation so we're all mixes of those in it so to start off kind of coming into red hat. Everybody will most people idea are looking for breath of fresh air and a change. And i think we're trying to do some of that. But to be very very chris there elements of ibm's model. That are really important for what we do. And their elements red. Hat's model that we want to inject into ibm to change. But it's not a value judgment of better worse. It's different for different purposes. By the way. I'll say this is true in it. And i think a lot of people mess up in it they create a innovation group. That separate have no problem with the separate innovation group yet. But you can't over celebrate it like the special kids in the people who are running your european than keeping the lights on or not right and he can say hey. I'm gonna for model for these things. But they're both equally important is like a heart alone. Got gotta have both right. So i spent a lot of time at ibm talking about those things. Now what we've done from there is. We are very chris that there were three components of halter characteristics of culture. That we wanna drive ibm Entrepreneurial spirit growth mindset in radical candor. But we've also been very clear. Those are attributes. And i don't know how to implement an attribute i don't even know but when i can't do is i can exhibit behaviors. So we started. We're starting off in Stop word route. Which is it's like. Ninety percent of the prophets is probably fifty percent of the people but in the software group We're taking all of our managers breaking cohorts. Were having town halls meetings. You define behaviors that leap believe support radical candor growth mindset Upper pearl spirit and. Then we're going to be very clear on that what we expect of our people were setting up kind of bottom up rewards and incentives around those things and so i'll say you know behavior i if i'm gonna meeting in someone doesn't speak up. I will proactively ask everybody meeting before we make a decision and stuff like that or going to keep thirty minutes of every agenda free open time so people have issues talk so it's not hard stuff but you kind of put together the thirtieth those behaviors in now you start getting changed applied. The of really really involved. But i've been very crisp up front. There's kind of driving future state in seeking future state if you want to think about the opposing models not way. You know the way i talk about is. Ibm is very much. We plan yet. We get prescribed it and then we kind of execute. Where red hat we configure. We don't really plan because you're kind of configuring organization. Yup we can enable rather than really prescribing. We more engaged for executed. What

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