Trust Me

Trust influences nearly every interaction we have during any given day.  Every communication, every action, every conversation is shaped in some way by the trust and reputation that we infer on the interacting party.  It is the currency communities, both online and offline, trade in.  Without trust, lasting relationships can’t be built and authentic communities can’t be maintained.  As a Community Leader, part of our job is to build reputation and trust for our communities and the people associated with them.  This may sound easy, but it can be very hard since you rely on the actions of others for much of your community’s reputation and trust.  Think about it…  You may be the most trustworthy and reputable person in the world, but if your community is acting in the wrong way, your efforts may be for naught. Trust is not something you can ask for; it’s earned through actions and ...(Read More)

Community Building Success Factors

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 defined.  Open source projects need well defined objectives like “enabling productive meetings” or ...(Read More)

5 Steps to Better Collaboration

Ever wonder why some collaboration projects take off and become successful but you can’t get your company’s users to use a simple wiki?  Do your discussion forums in Sharepoint go unused?  You did everything right… didn’t you?  Well, the honest truth is that there is no silver bullet to making something popular, but there are a few strategies you can use to deal with the biggest obstacle you face in collaboration which is User Discomfort.  That’s right, it’s not your processes or your technology, it’s not even your management.  The biggest impediment to getting your collaboration project off the ground and making it popular is User Discomfort.  Here’s why … Change is uncomfortable Learning new technologies can be hard, time consuming, and frustrating Voicing an opinion in a participatory community is hard for many and terrifying for some Benefits of trying something new …. Unknown and I saved the worst ...(Read More)

What They Forgot to Teach You about Open Source

There seems to be a misconception about what’s required to build a vibrant open source community and it’s not “community management”. Community management focuses on providing infrastructure and facilitating communication for a community. This includes setting up events, maintaining TO-DO lists, keeping forums under control, making announcements, etc. And that’s all well and good, in fact it’s vital. However, although this role is important it will likely not lead to any significant growth in your community. Communities need Leadership in order to grow because leaders create a vision of the future that draws people to their communities and motivates them into action. To get people up from their chairs (metaphorically speaking) and participating in a community requires vision and passion. Leaders are people who see the world from a different and new perspective. They dream of a future that is different from today. Their vision of tomorrow is inspiring and ...(Read More)

Product Management in Open Source?

This particular post deals with the benefits and challenges of product management.  Where it’s been and where it’s going as it relates to open source.  First, I know what you’re thinking … product management in open source? That can’t be, and in some cases its true (See the summary of Pidgin’s resizable textbox).  In other cases there is too much “traditional” product management and not enough community driven product management.  So what is the happy medium and how should open source projects approach product management?   In this post I’m going to look at how community driven PM differs from traditional PM within a commercial open source project. Let’s start by looking at a definition of product management.  Product management is discovering, documenting, and prioritizing user stories with the objective of maximizing some combination of users, sales revenue, and profit.  Notice I said ‘a’ definition of product management and not ‘the’definition.  The definition provided is a composite of several ...(Read More)