“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” —George Bernard Shaw
Earlier this month, IBM announced the completion of their $34B US acquisition of Red Hat, and now the hard work begins. Although there are a lot of differing opinions out there, the financial markets have reacted positively to both the acquisition as well as IBM’s Q22019 earning announcements. So have many of the most respected analysts out there. But what does it mean for each company? Most of the conversations that I hear or articles I’ve read, talk about the technology goals, but I’ve also been reading and hearing a lot about how Red Hat is key to IBM’s strategy and their ability to stay relevant.
Because I come from a world focused on values and behaviours, I’m more interested in the fit between the two cultures. First and foremost, I’ve read both from the relevant parties and elsewhere, that the intent to preserve Red Hat’s “unique culture and unwavering commitment to open source innovation” and the execution of their strategy will be key to the success of keeping the culture open and relevant.
The most common hypothesis that I’ve seen is the expectation that the Red Hat culture will permeate throughout IBM. I would say that’s easier said than done and it isn’t even easily said. Given the communication differences, it will be interesting to see if anything will be that easily said or done. While regulations have been prohibiting the two sides from communicating, both sides would be wise to now come together quickly to formulate communication.
IBM will need to embrace the culture of Red Hat when formulating a communication plan. Any communication on or to Red Hat that doesn’t meet their cultural requirements will be met with skepticism. Any communication that isn’t ultimately genuine will be a cause for cynicism.
Given the differences between the two cultures, effective communication is not a slam dunk. For me, the values a hold a key to understanding the culture of an organization. Done correctly, they represent what the organization believes in and how they will perform. The format of the values will also demonstrate the beliefs of the organization.
Red Hat’s values are defined by 8 words which are then explained by 91 words. IBM’s values are 43 words explained by another 219 words. There is a gap between how IBM naturally communicates and how Red Hat communicates. If IBM wants this acquisition to be a success, they will need to bridge that gap. That is why a partner is key to bridging the communication gap for customers. HighVail has been a premier partner of IBM & Red Hat’s for over 10 years. Leveraging partners like us with the experience is key for customers who want to be able to get the most out of their IBM and Red Hat technology.

Contact us to find out more on how HighVail can assist you along this journey.

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