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Red Hat CEO: “Planning as we know it is dead”

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry and the Red Hat CEO wants businesses to change their culture.

By James Nunns

Boxing legend Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The quote was evoked by Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst as he spoke about the death of planning.

Speaking during his keynote at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, the Red Hat CEO said, “Planning as we know it is dead. Planning in a less known environment is too ineffective.”

The CEO was talking about how the pace of innovation has reached such a speed that plans are outdated before they are even complete.

Referencing the demise of the British motorcycle industry and the rise of Honda as a dominant market leader in the US, the CEO said that while Honda had a plan to enter the US market, it was a matter of luck and of people diverging from the plan that made the company a success.

The point being that: “As we think about going forward, we have to recognise that in the chaotic world we live in we can’t assume that we can predict the way forward,” said Whitehurst.

“There’s so much innovation emerging rather than being planned,” said Whitehurst, as he referenced the rise of big data, and the lack of a 10 year roadmap.

The death of the plan doesn’t mean that businesses should just give up and wing it, instead they should create the context for individual action, enable employees to innovate by giving them the tools and services that they need.

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That’s the message that dominated the keynote from the Red Hat CEO as he echoed sentiments from last year’s conference regarding empowering the community, giving back and not just being a passive participant.

Read more: Red Hat CEO issues call to arms for open source participation

The message is one that clearly suits the company, because without a growing community of contributors and customers the company won’t continue to grow.

While there’s obviously an economic reason behind wanting more businesses to buy into Red Hat’s business model, the company does a good job at being a proponent of all the value that the open source way can bring to the world.

The company excels at highlighting valuable customers stories that are not only examples of the technology at work but also case studies of tech for good.

During the keynote customer examples such as GovTech, which is a part of the Singapore government, highlighted how open source development is impacting lives.

The core example given was an app called myResponder that looks to help save the lives of people that suffer out of hospital cardiac arrests. Singapore has more than 1900 people a year suffer these and there’s only a 3% survival rate.


The app notifies people to nearby cardiac arrest cases and where the nearest automated external defibrillator system is. This significantly increases the chances of survival and is a great example of using technology to save lives.

Red Hat’s CEO said that the company has always recognised that open source is more than a license, it’s about a way of operating. With this in mind, the company is aiming to help more businesses to not only use the technology but to embrace the culture and processes of open source.

To make this a reality, Red Hat is opening more of its Innovation Labs in Boston and in London over the next month so that businesses can get involved in four to twelve week residencies.

Red Hat clearly relies upon more businesses adopting not just its technology but the whole ethos of open source in order to continue to grow its business. The powerful customer stories certainly help to instill a sense of value to the concept and the rapid innovation of the technology should help to win over business leader’s minds.

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