Open Source Strategies

A blog about open source software and business models, enterprise software, and the opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM Suite.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Finding Einstein

In my last blog, I talked about how the scientific methodology, and by extension open source processes, can help attract superbly talented people. Hence, "the next Einstein."

Now let's get more specific. Whether you are a traditional closed source software vendor, a dual open/proprietary license vendor, or an open source project, these are the things you should do to attract talented developers:
  • Make it possible for as many people as possible to participate in your product's development. This means not just making it possible for them to view the source code but also providing tutorials and documentation to help them work with it.
  • Make it possible for a large group to work together remotely. Ths means setting up code repositories, mailing lists, and issue trackers and then using them. Encourage input and give feedback. Start potentially contentious yet always civilized discussions.
  • Train the group to work asynchronously. Each member of the group should be able to work on a small part of the project independently, without direct supervision or even contact with the rest of group.
  • Encourage contributions of all sizes from the group. Sometimes, great ideas come in small packages (like Einstein's papers on special and general relativity, for example.)
  • Institute rigorous peer review. Don't hold a popularity contest, but instead to encourage input from as many people as possible so your core review or committers' group can find the right answer.
  • Recognize your contributors.
Most of these suggestions are process changes, strategic or organizational in nature. There is one technical hurdle here as well: your code base must be very modular. Otherwise, it would be very difficult for new contributors to get involved, for a diverse group to work remotely and asynchronously, and for you to integrate all those contributions into a stable product.

Through this process, you can unleash the talent and creativity of a community far larger than your own company can bring together.

And you just might find the next Einstein.

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