What is the open kimono?
Opening a kimono means revealing what’s planned or freely sharing important information. Similar to “opening the books” or an “open door policy”, opening the kimono means revealing the inner workings of a project or business to a third party. The practice is also called “opening (opening) your kimono”.
Companies often keep internal projects secret, especially if they believe this will create a competitive advantage. When companies work together to create synergies, disclosing certain internal elements of your business can build trust and create a deeper and more loyal relationship between business leaders.
Understanding the open kimono
The kimono is a traditional Japanese garment. There are conflicting etymologies for this phrase, but the one that comes closest to its current commercial connotation is the idea that Japanese people loosen their kimonos to relax at home, much like loosening a tie. The term joined the business lexicon in the late 1980s during a period of increased global business interaction, particularly between Western and Japanese companies.
The “open kimono” has become the most popular in the world of computers, especially in North America.
With the rise of politically correct in modern culture, business jargon is one of the last places where controversial expressions are regularly used. Why? Because business lingo is the language of intense financial competition, and these corporate buzzwords sometimes turn to racism, sexism or (in the case of a favorite “open kimono”) a combination of the two.
The use of the “open kimono” in a commercial context dates back to the 1970s but seems to be gaining ground. The expression became common around 1998. New york times journalist Stephen Greenhouse became one of the first to draw wide attention to the term when he noted that Microsoft marketers (MSFT) had adopted it. At the time, he warned that the use of an open kimono could originally indicate a slightly disrespectful attitude toward Japanese businessmen who were snatching up American businesses.
The phrase has become popular around the world of computing, especially in North America. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, used the expression in 1979 during a visit to Xerox Parc. He reportedly said, “Look, I’ll let you invest a million dollars in Apple if you want to somehow open the kimono on Xerox Parc.” That memorable expression and this meeting apparently led him to discover the mouse, and Apple has then launched the first Souris commercial. And the rest is history, as they say.
Key points to remember
- “Open Kimono” means revealing the inner workings of a project or business to a third party.
- Many consider the term to be politically charged or politically incorrect.
- The term joined the business lexicon in the late 1980s during a period of increased commercial interaction with Japanese companies.
The expression has become such a used word in the computer industry that it has even been used by the fictional consultant Dogbert, in the cartoon series Dilbert. In a comic strip of June 16, 2005, Dogbert said in a flood of buzzwords: “Do not open the kimono until you ping the change agent for a brain dump and explore your basic skills. ” The mention indicated to many that the phrase had become a key element of overused commercial jargon.