Community Building 101

“…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.” Leading Lean Software Development 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 ...(Read More)

Communication Planning

Many a project has gone down in flames because they failed to take the time to really think through a communication plan that educated their stakeholders of the organizational value of their project.  Communication is one of the most important factors to the success of your community. Without communicating your project or program’s benefits and successes, users and stakeholders alike won’t be aware of new offerings, program progress, or the goals and direction of your project. “The more they know, the more they’ll understand. The more they understand, the more they’ll care. Once they care, there’s no stopping them.” –Sam Walton The first step in any Communication Plan is identifying your stakeholders.  This is a key step that is often overlooked.  Many projects and programs focus only on keeping users informed about community news, however its important to look outside your active community members and find the stakeholders that are ...(Read More)


Imagine being lost on a deserted island with no hope of being discovered with only a volleyball named Wilson to keep you company.  There’s a reason pirates used marooning as a form of torture.  It’s a miserable existence (if you can call it that) that usually doesn’t end so well.  But yet that’s what becomes of most corporate knowledge.  It’s left on various file servers across the enterprise with little hope of discovery or rescue (aka. reuse). In my last post entitled Strategic Reuse Process, we looked at an overall framework for analyzing how information flows through an organization and the hurdles encountered on its way to reuse.  But how does an artifact go from Publication to Discovery (see here for definition)?  In this post I want to dig a little deeper and discuss the first hurdle on our way to reuse, Findability. find-a-bil-ity n a.  The quality of begin locatable or navigable b. ...(Read More)

Why Trust Matters

“If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.” –Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln may have understood trust and community better than anyone in the history of the United States.   He knew that maintaining trust meant having the people’s confidence… and with confidence you can lead.   I can’t imagine having to make the kind of  decisions that he did, but I can imagine how important maintaining the people’s trust must have been through that period in history.  Every leader must have his community’s trust to be effective. Building and maintaining trust stems from two elements, transparency and action, one without the other will not work, but together they have proven to be a winning combination for instilling the necessary confidence to effectively lead. Transparency “Let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe” –Abraham Lincoln Leadership means making decisions ...(Read More)

Making FOSS Successful

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. A real disconnect exists between what many very smart business people think ...(Read More)