When I hear people in the technology industry talk about the benefits of open source software, one of things they mention often is their belief that open source software “gets better faster” than traditional software (David Wheeler has done a nice job collecting many of the proof points around the benefits of open source software here). While the speed of innovation in open source is in part due to the power of Linus’s Law (“Given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow”), I believe it also has a lot to do with the way open source projects are managed.
Many of the characteristics of this open source management style apply well beyond making software, and I’m always looking for examples showcasing this in action. A few weeks ago, I wrote briefly about the story in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink about (now retired) US General Paul Van Riper.
Gladwell tells the story of how, in an enormous military war game called the Millennium Challenge in 2002, Van Riper took command of the Red Team, playing the role of a rogue commander who broke away from the government of his Persian Gulf country and threatened US forces (the Blue Team). Rather than following standard military management protocol, Van Riper managed his team according to a philosophy he called “in command and out of control.” From the book:
By that, I mean that the overall guidance and the intent were provided by me and the senior leadership, but the forces in the field wouldn’t depend on intricate orders coming from the top. They were to use their own initiative and be innovative as they went forward.
Last week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced in a post on his blog he was stepping aside and Google co-founder Larry Page would take on management of Google’s day-to-day operations as the new CEO. Although Schmidt is staying on as Executive Chairman for now and will continue to have an ongoing role in the company, many including myself, were surprised by the news.
I see Google and Red Hat both as fantastic poster children for openness as a successful business strategy. I’ve written many times about how the open source way deeply impacted our work at Red Hat even beyond building software. I’ve also written about Google and the open source way, and pointed to this famous post from Google’s Senior VP of Product Management Jonathan Rosenberg explaining Google’s commitment to openness.
But what does Google’s management change say about the open source way?
Before you answer, here are a few things I’ve read this week and found interesting:
[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]
Over the past few months, I’ve started moonlighting as a contributor on the Management Innovation Exchange (MIX), which we’ve featured regularly on opensource.com. My posts on the MIX focus on how to enable communities of passion in and around organizations.
A few months ago, the MIX announced a new contest, the Human Capital M-Prize, which is looking for the best ideas on how to unleash passion in our organizations.
Since this particular challenge is right in my stomping ground on the MIX, and because many people who regularly read and contribute to opensource.com probably know better how to enable communities of passion than almost anyone else in the world, I thought I should highlight the contest in the hopes that some of you might enter.
Details? From the MIX website:
The MIX and HCI are looking for the boldest thinking, most powerfully-developed vision, and the most cleverly-designed experiments for unleashing passion in our organizations. What is your bold new idea or radical solution to the lack of engagement and passion in our workforce? What game-changing story or hack can transform employees everywhere into more engaged, motivated and productive contributors?
If you have a story or hack you think might fit, go here to learn more or enter the contest.
The deadline for entries is January 20th—only about two weeks away.
The grand prize winner will get a chance to present their story or hack to a global audience at the HCI Human Capital Summit in Atlanta in March, and there are other interesting prizes as well. So if this sounds compelling to you, get on over to the MIX and submit your entry.
Make our community of passion at opensource.com proud and let’s show these future-of-management-types that we open source folks know a thing or two about building community.
Maybe some day we’ll look back on the role of the manager in our organizations and laugh.
Such a quaint trend. Kind of like having The Clapper in every room of your house, or wearing multiple Swatch watches, or working out to Richard Simmons videos. Each seemed really helpful at the time, but looking back, we kind of wonder what the heck we were thinking.
OK, I’m exaggerating. After all, the manager/employee trend has been going strong for 100 years or more. But are we seeing enormous changes in the role of managers on the horizon? Signs point to yes.
In some of the most forward-thinking businesses and in many projects being run the open source way, the traditional manager/employee relationship, which looks something like the image above, is being replaced with something much less formal and much more flexible.
I think the new model looks more like this:
[read the rest of this post on opensource.com]