5 things for leaders to know when implementing open source

5 things for leaders to know when implementing open source

Introducing an open source tool the wrong way can turn your users against not only the tool, but also change in general. Consider these 5 factors when implementing open source

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4. Take ownership

Once you implement an open source solution, take ownership of your instance of it.

Open source grows with your organization, in both maturity and scale.

The more it does, the more it presents opportunity for your organization to grow too.

Hire people who know and work in open source, empower your colleagues and staff to explore and contribute to open source so that they’re expanding their knowledge well beyond what they expected to learn from their usual work.

Additionally, create an easy avenue for support within your organization.

You should triage issues with the product you’re using, only passing it on to the developers after you’ve determined it’s an actual bug or issue with the code.

That’s not to relieve upstream of their self-appointed duties, but to assure your organization that the toolchain is being maintained and monitored, and to keep you informed about the needs of your people.

People aren’t trained to suggest features for software, because in proprietary software that’s not usually an option.

You'll get some of the best feedback in the form of puzzled grimaces and blank stares.

As a result, you’ll get some of the best feedback in the form of puzzled grimaces and blank stares, or cryptic emails referencing buttons that never existed.

That confusion is a feature request in disguise, so monitor your coworkers diligently.

This doesn’t mean open source will turn your organization into a software company.

Instead, you’ll have a workforce that’s comfortable with the tools they use on a daily basis, and people who aren’t afraid to adapt those tools to work better for their needs.

5. Brace yourself for improvement

When you unleash open source on your organization’s people, you must learn to expect rapid expansion.

Motivated people with a job to do are ingenious in ways no open source project or CTO can even predict.

Your coworkers will find hidden capabilities, awkward workarounds, exciting plugins, and maybe even custom scripts and workflows that are now only possible because you’ve removed all limitations from the toolset.

The key is to foster that everyday innovation, help it spread quickly through your organization, and even compound upon itself.

This has been the not-so-secret to success for countless companies, so learn to embrace it.

People are eager to make their lives easier by making their own jobs more efficient, so let them do that, and let them share their discoveries with their friends.

Whether you foster this through a site on your intranet, through brownbag lunch demos, or through adopting tips and tricks from people as official policy, the combined imagination of your colleagues can push your organization forward in ways you’d never have expected.

Scaling up and to the right

As that last example indicates, open source is as much culture as it is technology.

If you’re only using the technology side of open source, you may be missing out on an important advantage.

Adopt open source wisely and carefully, but adopt it and share its culture with your organization, because digital transformation is here, and it’s definitely open.

[ How can automation free up more staff time for innovation? Get the free eBook: Managing IT with Automation. ] 

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