Monday, January 30, 2006

Management - The Missing Ingredient

What Open Source needs, along with any large group of programmers getting together to get a job done is management. Linus and his trusted partners do a good job of riding herd on the kernel development process. They transform the energies of a diverse mass of programmers, add in the appropriate amounts of process, QA and documentation, with a good dose of vision, leadership, and management, and in the end we get a high-quality product.

The lone wolf programmer doesn't see the need for all these other skills if they are a novice. More experienced programmers know they need them, but getting open source management is still more a matter of luck than it should be.

This is also true of any project that is going to do development, hardware, software, or new technology development. The raw talent needs to be tempered with lots of other ingredients. We need to figure out what these elements are, how to qualify people and build their reputations, so that we can pay them, or give them their fair share of credit.

One of the keys to disintermediating VC is to build an alternate structure that can provide the other bits of development in an open and accountable way. This will increase the odds of success of a given project, and thus encourage investment in open development processes.

In summary: Tools, ideas and hard work go a long way towards success, but they can't to it alone, you need management and support to get there in any meaningful way.

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