A blog for the enterprise open source community
From lone developer to tribal leader: open source community engagement 101Matthew Aslett, January 16, 2009 @ 10:00 am ET
Following my post about the importance of community management in 2009 here’s couple of interesting blog posts from yesterday related to community engagement/management: Bob Sutor’s Open source and the lone developer, and David Hornik’s Great Entrepreneurs Build “Tribes”.
The posts actually deal with the preparation for, and leadership of, communities by an individual, although I believe that the content could also be applied to an organisation wanting to build an open source community for the first time.
Even for those organisations that are already involved in communities they could serve as a timely reminder of community basics. As Jeremy Garcia wrote in response to Jay’s post on the disappearance of community managers:
“Let your community atrophy at your own peril. When things turn around, and at some point they certainly will, the companies who continue to foster and grow their communities will be in a much better position to benefit. It’s easy to forget this when the going gets tough, but as with most things you shouldn’t lose focus on mid and long term success even when short term issues change the game.”
Bob Sutor provides a list of tasks that an individual needs to think about before they start an open source project. Not all of them translate to the context of a vendor, rather than an individual, but these do:
# Find out of it has already been done.
# Think about the programming language to be used and the overall architecture and design.
# Decide where you’re going to keep the code.
# Pick your IDE (integrated development environment).
# Decide on the open source license under which you will release the code.
# As you develop the project, keep track of and document every bit of code that you pull in from elsewhere.
# Don’t wait until the code is 100% complete and perfect before you release it.
# Let people know of your work when it is ready.
# Be prepared to fix your code, and fix it fast, after you release it.
(Bob goes into more detail on all of these in his post).
David cites Seth’s seven elements of leadership to demonstrate that a good tribal leader has the same qualities of an entrepreneur:
* Leaders challenge the status quo.
* Leaders create a culture around their goal and involve others in that culture.
* Leaders have an extraordinary amount of curiosity about the world they’re trying to change.
* Leaders use charisma (in a variety of forms) to attract and motivate followers.
* Leaders communicate their vision of the future.
* Leaders commit to a vision and make decisions based on that commitment.
* Leaders connect their followers to one another.
They are also a good starting point for community building/engagement.
Of course there’s a lot more to it than that, but these are good starting points. For more tips on community engagement, Jono Bacon’s new Art of Community site should also be worth following.
Herding cats for fun and profit: Four tips for working with online communities (Joe Brockmeier)
Building Vibrant Open Source Communities (John Mark Walker)
The Contribution Revolution: Letting Volunteers Build Your Business (Harvard Business Review)
I’ll add some more links later.
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