At IDEASFORUM we believe Open Source Programs foster a culture that encourages participation and privileges driving attention on actively contributing to common goals rather than focusing on immediate egoistic results. It is is an Ethos that values the culture of “Sharing”.
This culture derives from an approach to software development that emphasizes internal and external collaboration and increasing focus on core competencies instead of core infrastructure. Most relevant for us at IDEASFORUM is the fact that it embraces diversity as an absolute value and teaches us on how mediation between different beliefs can always bring to trade-offs which can “actually work” (software either does work, or it doesn’t!).
In our point of view collaborating on community projects could be a way of thinking which can be compared to open source software development. Software engineers can use open source components built somewhere else and by someone they do not know, but they feel the need to collaborate with the people responsible for assuring that the project which originated those “components” are subjected to regular and effective maintenance, for the good of the Community.
The fact that makes us believe that the same cultural approach can be applied to our Society, is the fact that assuring a diffuse awareness or a better level of knowledge of the results of open source initiatives is one of the key mandates of organizations embracing an open source approach. People need to know and be aware of the environment they are moving in, in order to feel confident to participate, providing alternative or diverging views.
Another key aspect of open source culture that intrigues us is the fact that it provides either more solid starting points or alternatives in integrating novelties in our societal projects.
The Impact of an “Open Source Culture”
Open Source developers do not need to take care of developing from scratch 100% of their software, because they can leverage on the efforts, mistakes and achievements of others who are willing to share their experiences. The same could be applied to our society, when planning and implementing complex digital transformation programs, which could heavily impact our daily lives.
When explaining why their organization is considering creating an open source program, a survey respondent wrote, “We no longer think that the right answer for a problem that isn’t key to our profitability is to write new code. Instead, we look for projects that are generally moving in the direction we want to go and try to adapt and pitch in”.
A willingness to use open source allows people to focus on their core competencies and less on frameworks and infrastructures. Organizations without a technology focus, in general, are increasingly using open source to “generate consensus at the edge instead than at the core”.
Open Source as a way to efficiency, not velocity
At IDEASFORUM we believe that in societal matters, as well as in software development, development efficiency is not the same as development velocity. Open source participation does not automatically shorten development life cycles, nor does it mean products can be released faster. On the contrary, the efficiency (and possibly also the quality of the results) increases as the community becomes more productive by focusing on what’s important and taking charge to maintain the “core infrastructure” more than the single application components.
In conclusion, we believe that we can become more efficient in our digital transformation projects affecting societal aspects by “open sourcing” existing projects. The maintanance of a project is spread across its users, and so it is freeing up internal time, which can be used to focus on new features that can help the organization itself and the project.