Open Source Leadership Lessons

Open source is changing the rules about how software is designed, created and distributed. But leadership isn't always nearly as innovative. Esther Schindler spoke with Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth and two of the dudes who run SourceForge, and discussed some of the lessons the open source community could bear to learn.

Some projects -- in IT, open source, or the world at large -- become major successes. Others fail or (more painfully) they almost succeed; the projects or products survive, but never reach their potential. Sometimes the difference is luck, sometimes it's technology... but we all know instinctively that successful endeavors generally are the result of people working together to make the right decisions.

The O'Reilly Open Source Convention has barely started, yet I've already had two mind-expanding conversations which have touched on leadership and management skill. One conversation was with Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu Project, and the other was with Jon Sobel, SourceForge group president and Ross Turk, community manager for SourceForge.net. Now that open source is no longer a novelty and isn't merely the province of techies, these guys (and others) are thinking hard about how to keep the momentum going, how to promote developer involvement and what tools and technologies are necessary to promote innovation and collaboration in the community.

These are not concerns peculiar to open source, as anyone who runs a project knows. What comes next? What people-processes can we put in place to help people on that path, not hinder them? Where can technology improve things? What might screw us up?

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