The paradigm of the open organization
Forget now about labels and conventions: there is not such thing as free software, like there is not such thing as free speech. There are free developers and free speakers, and they are the ones setting the limits of freedom of their products and actions. If they are not free, how free can be the result of their actions?
The license and contribution policy of a piece of open source software might tell something about how free it is. What is really useful though is to look at the levels of openness and freedom in the organization that develops, integrates and distributes that code.
How open is an organization? Consider this checklist as a barometer:
- Clear mission – Full disclosed objectives.
- Declared commitments – Affinities and aversions explained.
- Explicit connections outside – Relationships with other organizations listed.
- Horizontal organization – Teams and facilitators work on responsibilities and agreements.
- Identified contributors – Who is who, people is reachable.
- Clear responsibilities – Who is in charge or what.
- Activities described – All the ongoing work is acknowledged.
- Open participation – Anybody can access the information and get a first responsibility.
- Meritocracy – Responsibilities are acquired (or lost) based on own skills and contributors’ support.
- Voluntary (non-)engagement – Nobody is forced to be involved or to keep responsibilities.
- Regular reports – Reported activities and future plans allow monitoring and participation.
- Information accessible – Even internal operational information is available by default.
- Explicit confidentiality – It is explained what areas are confidential, why and who access them.
- Economic model – Feasibility and sustainability plans are exposed.
- Resources – Inventory of items detailing who contributed what and why.
- Public accounts – It’s clear where the money comes from and where it goes.
How was your rating?
All this came to mind because it is in the organizational setting where the average corporation collides with the average open source community, and compromises need to be made from both sides. The result in many cases is the creation of a third way picking elements from both contexts, like maemo today. How open is maemo? How open could and should it be?
The debate about Sun trying to do the right thing has jumped to maemo and is evolving interestingly. Nokia is also trying to do the right thing, but this is a topic for another day. I just wanted to share an old text I wrote five years ago and never got the time to translate to English: El paradigma de la organización abierta.
Filed under: maemo | 12 Comments
Tags: freedom, open organization, open source