APIs and Open Technology by Jeremy Brown "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs 15 April 2019 True company culture, open source, open source culture, Product Management, Product Management Skills, Team Culture, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 432 Product Management 1.728

APIs and Open Technology by Jeremy Brown


Jeremy Brown heads up Red Hat’s Open Innovation Labs in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and he works with organisations who are looking to adapt their operations for the technology landscape of the digital era. In this ProductTank London talk, Jeremy discusses the best contexts for teams to work in, and he passionately endorses using the open source model that is popular in code to build your business culture.

What is Open Source?

Open source refers to software and data that people can modify and share. The term originated in the context of software development and described a specific approach to computer programming. Today, open source encompasses practices and values beyond software; it harnesses principles of design and product such as exchange, collaborative participation and transparency. The open source model can be transformative for businesses, and Jeremy offers several reasons why this should be.

The Characteristics of Open Source

Arguably, open source cultures improve business operations because they encourage diverse input more quickly and often. Through fostering “open” values within his own team, Jeremy has identified five characteristics of openness in the workplace (and they are applicable to APIs too!)

  1. Transparency: the whole team can see all aspects of the development process, as well as all objectives and goals.
  2. Inclusivity: anybody can contribute to discussions, even if those discussions are outside the domains of their role.
  3. Adaptability: changing decisions effectively, if necessary, with support from the above.
  4. Collaboration: welcoming and inviting everyone to contribute, asking “how can I get other people to work with me on this shared vision as a group? Why are we doing this?” Collaborative processes unlock the potential of almost every situation, says Jeremy.
  5. Agility: open source models encourage operations to develop at a faster pace.

When Jeremy’s customers started to ask how they could adopt open source ways of working, he emphasised the importance of context and perspective with the following analogy.

How can we Implement Open Source Practices?

The “restaurant analogy” is about stepping outside previous workplace contexts in pursuit of a new perspective. So, if you go to work in a Michelin-starred restaurant, you will begin to understand how high-performing establishments process food, use tools, and work together as a unit. When you come out of that context and return to the home kitchen, you may find yourself cooking food in a different way. What does this mean? It is an endorsement to take people out of their office and put them in an environment where the culture is different. Specifically, Jeremy recommends observing environments which are conducive to collaborative open source cultures.