Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Open Source lessons for organizational knowledge management

The following notes were from a fascinating insight in to the Open Source development process used by Mozilla Corporation in the development of FireFox. This might not seem relevant to Knowledge Management in large organizations but there are some interesting parallels. Effective Knowledge Management depends upon embracing the community that has the knowledge and encouraging the community members to participate. So just keep that in mind while reading about the development voyage for Firefox.

Embrace the chaos!

A session presented by Mike Bletzner of Mozilla Corporation. I am looking round the fast filling room and seeing all the laptops in use. This is interesting. The Mac is a predominant force in the Web 2.0 world. It appears to be the laptop of choice for the majority of developers. I have even seen some developers running Windows on their Macbook Pro's. Web 2.0 is going mainstream. The split between Mac and Windows machines at this conference is about 40% Mac 60% Windows. But most of those Windows users look longingly at the Mac users.

The community is smarter than you. So listen! You don't necessarily have to follow what they say. Leadership is the key. Filter signal from noise. A Commanders Intent is critical. It is the core of leadership. The intent survives daily interaction with events.
  • Listen
  • Lead
  • Play

What do we mean by community?

1 phenomenologist 40 Development team 1,000 contributors 10,000 Nightly Testers 100,000 Beta Testers 37% of Firefox code has been contributed by the community

Open source lessons learned

Chaos. Anyone can propose a change. Anyone can join. Vandalism is negligible. But you do get duplicates. Anyone can comment on a change. So there is some noise. Anyone can submit a change to the code. Not everyone can approve a change. This gives some level of control. Mozilla have 400 people that can check code in to the tree.

Managing the process

Respect has to be earned. WOOFI - Social Capital in the Magic Kingdom. Positive comments carry weight. This respect brings order. A strong leadership structure is essential. Module owners can grant rights to peers to allow them to enable change. Leadership helps to filter the noise.

Lessons aplied from Opensource design

Provide a path of least resistance to channel input to where you want it. Easier to comment on design than to code. Camps form quickly - "I like the button on the left" v. "I like the button on the right" - So identify and elevate smart contributors. The solution is to ask for evidence to support assertions. Remember to educate. The community wants to listen. Lay out a path for contributors. Give a clear statement of intent. When Firefox asked for comments they had 3,000 contributions in one week and only 2 incidents of vandalism. Create small teams with specific responsibilities. Each has a clear commanders intent. Elevate discussions with data and research whenever possible. It enables decisions to be made. BATNA - Best Alternative T a Negotiated Agreement. Treat disagreements as negotiations.

Let your community play and experiment.

eg. create an add-on. Popular ones get incorporated in to the core product.

1 comment:

  1. pot on - I think capturing free will of community is important for effective knowledge management and I would say u have manged to demonstrate and capture that real insight of this subject ..