CAT | Strategy
Community managers have a tough job. They deal with lots of different stakeholders trying to find that elusive “middle ground”. They incessantly cheer on community activities and push adoption of collaboration best practices; but when it comes to validating their position through tangible and quantifiable metrics it can sometimes seem daunting. Is the best measure user participation? How about community size? Each of these seem like great things, and they are, but typically organizations don’t have a lot of tolerance for soft measures that don’t directly impact the “bottom-line”.
Recently I have been working to identify ways in which organizational performance gains can be tied to community activities. Since my current position involves helping large organizations increase performance from their development teams, I started first by looking at something that may seem far removed from community, knowledge reuse. (more…)
Originally published in Open Source Business Resource January 2010
“…success comes entirely from people and the system within which they work. Results are not the point. Developing the people and the system so that together they are capable of achieving successful results is the point.”
Recently, that quote stirred some controversy among my peers. The part about “results are not the point” was hard for some people to understand and come to grips with. Aren’t results always the point? Well, as with most things, “It depends”. The people and community that evolve around an open source software project will ultimately determine its success. Even if the core team launches the project with spectacular productivity and results, this phase of evolution will be fleeting if the necessary processes and community to make the project a long lasting success are not put into place.
This article presents some of the actions open source community leaders can take to ensure not only results, but a system that encourages productivity and longevity.
Seth Godin coined the phrase Purple Cow to make the point that companies and products have to be different in order to gain attention and attract customers in today’s marketplace. His point is well taken, if you want to stand out and attract people to your product you need to appear AND BE different.
The same holds true for communities, especially now with so many companies trying to engage with their customers. Just a couple of years ago communities were never discussed… ever (unless you were talking about open source). Now I’ll wager a bet that nearly ever marketing meeting has some component of community discussed, dissected, and regurgitated (is that what a Purple Cow would do?) on a daily basis. Community has gone from the unknown servant to the Belle of the Ball, a true Cinderella story , in only a few short years. But are companies really distinguishing themselves with their community efforts? Are they creating Purple Communities or just another Facebook Fan page? (more…)
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about what forms the foundation for communities? What matters most? Which things are the building blocks for all other activities that go on? I’ve identified what I believe to be the four most important building blocks for community. Tell me if you agree or not.
1. Leadership and Vision
I recently wrote a post about leadership and its significance to open source projects. Leadership may be the single most important factor in your community’s success simply due to the fact that people want to belong and believe in something. In essence people want to follow an inspiring message. Some want to lead, but most want to be led towards a vision of the future that they believe in. Well functioning communities lead their members towards an objective that solves real problems and is well (more…)
I’m a community guy in a company that has lots of products, both open source and commercial, I’m lucky enough to get paid to work on open source projects. What I’ve learned in my work with the community is that building a successful project takes more than many people think.
Some folks in the corporate world have a distorted view of how open source projects work. A lot of the corporate types hear about open source and think that sprinkling magic “open source” dust on their product will suddenly make it successful. They’ll have contributors pile on and massive marketshare will follow. Soon they’ll have a “best of breed” product and do very little actual work since the community will be writing the software, testing it, providing support, etc. Admittedly, I’m exaggerating to some degree, but only slightly.