Why does an Open Source approach not work in (most) companies?
Open Source communities are amazing. Never experienced such a helpful and dedicated environment anywhere else. Despite scratching their own itches Open Source minded people tend to teach, answer and help other people and there’s no money involved.
I always try to get something of that mindset into corporate communities.. and fail.
It’s not hard to imagine that i.e. all developers of a company get involved with Open Source projects. It’s also easy to imagine that separate teams or departments share code and generally help each other despite working on different things.
You can see this working in some companies. Mostly start-ups that formed within the Open Source space or have been connected to it from the start. But you rarely see it happening in bigger or older companies.
Even if the individual developers are using Open Source and might contribute in their free time the mindset just won’t set in within the work time. Now why is that?
My current guess is that the mindset you find within the Open Source communities is being had by an already selected group of people.
What I mean is: from the quazillion developers in the world only a few are involved somehow in the Open Source world. The rest is not.
When you look at the developers of a company you will look at a share of the developers of the world and probably find a similar ratio of people who come with an Open Source mindset. The majority might not get the point or isn’t interested.
So how can you change that?
I see only two options. First one would be to emphasize the topic constantly, support those who share your mindset and maybe set goals that include Open Source thinking. The second way to change would be to change your hiring process and start openly judging people by their Open Source contributions.