Gunnar Hellekson talks government and open source principles at OSCON 09

Gunnar Hellekson of Red Hat Government shares how a ‘fail faster’ culture is an option when it comes to the government embracing open source, how we must celebrate the success stories and the importance of Open Source for America, in his talk, “Applying Open Source Principles to Federal Government.”


“They’re not lazy. They’re not stupid. They’re just constrained by a broken system. And so when they succeed, we need to reward them.”

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh, co-founder/CEO of ProudCity and co-host of the podcast, The Government We Need. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at

2 Responses

  1. I did not hear Mr. Hellekson’s talk but, hopefully, he and others recognize that a “fail faster” culture FIRST requires the creation of a “fail safely” culture.

    Innovation rarely succeeds on the very first try. A “fail safely” culture is one that permits innovators to experiment … without the fear that a single “failure” will compromise their careers.

    The existing “fear of failure” in especially hard to eliminate in a government organization, because outside stakeholders (e.g., the public) sees any such “failure” as a waste of their money and, so, wants someone to be “held accountable” (i.e., punished).

    And that is why government employees are cautious.

    Unless that “fear of failure” is removed first, there will not be “fast failure” (or at any other speed).

    I believe that the solution may require an element of anonymity so that employees can safely point to possible innovations in areas that threaten the status quo.

    See that idea presented at the White House’s “Open Govt. Dialogue”:

    With more info at my blog:


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