21 December 2006

Businesses learning from Open Source

Here is an excellent article entitled “What Businesses Can Learn from Open Source” and linked from a Kathy Sierra post. It was given as a talk as Oscon 2005 (you’ll recognise a few faces there):

Often as not a startup begins in an apartment. Instead of matching beige cubicles they have an assortment of furniture they bought used. They work odd hours, wearing the most casual of clothing. They look at whatever they want online without worrying whether it’s “work safe.” The cheery, bland language of the office is replaced by wicked humor. And you know what? The company at this stage is probably the most productive it’s ever going to be.

It has a fair bit to say about professionalism, not much of it very relaxing. (-: for example :-)

That is one of the key tenets of professionalism. Work and life are supposed to be separate. But that part, I’m convinced, is a mistake.

It’s up to the eyeballs in treasurable quotes like this one:

Many employees would like to build great things for the companies they work for, but more often than not management won’t let them.

However, it’s not an anti-office rant. Paul gives some answers, some new approaches with an opportunity to work well. Let’s stop treating employees as recalcitrant children, he asserts, and start treating them like creative adults. How? After praising Google for letting their hackers spend 20% of their work-time on their own projects, he asks and states:

Why not let people spend 100% of their time on their own projects, and instead of trying to approximate the value of what they create, give them the actual market value? Impossible? That is in fact what venture capitalists do.

Is he recommending that everyone go out and do a startup? No, but he reckons more people should be able to come close than actually do.

I reckon that there’s a real future in that. (-:

No comments: