The goal of leadership is to produce superior results on purpose and that makes leadership a results contest. The challenge of leadership is to persuade and motivate those they lead to produce the results they want. When people voluntarily and enthusiastically do what their leaders ask them to do and the desired results are achieved, leaders are considered to be effective and successful! The question is how do leaders really get others to voluntarily and enthusiastically produce the desired results? There are many parts to this puzzle, but there is none greater than a condition I describe as Strategic Presence.
A big ruckus came up on the Gentoo development list in the past couple of weeks, and part of it involved Gentoo contributors and their motivations. I’m sure most of us have heard that open-source software is about scratching your own itches, but I’m not sure that everyone really understands what that means.
For me, what it means is that my time on Gentoo needs to fulfill me in some way. If not, then I’ve got tons of other places to invest my free time. It does not mean every change I make fixes a problem I encountered. It does mean every change I make has some return in value. What’s value?
- Functionality: A feature or bug fix that directly affects a program I use
- Pride: My reputation as a developer relies upon clean, bug-free code. It’s important that my code is beautiful and functional.
- Gratitude: Thanks from someone else for the time I spent on their problem
- Reciprocity: An expectation that others will contribute in areas I care about if I work on things they care about
- Stimulation: Spending time around other smart people who care about the same things
All of these are selfish, because I’m directly getting some sort of value out of my time and contribution. Many times, Gentoo developers have said they develop for themselves. That’s what they mean. Consequently, the people I care about making changes for are people who give me something I value in return. If you’re contributing in some way, I want to help you. If not, what’s my motivation?
I just posted this to the Gentoo development list, but I thought other projects could use a similar idea so I decided to add it to my blog.
I’m sure I’m not the only one with a number of projects I’ll never get to, but I’d really like them to happen anyway. I suggest we create some sort of page that aggregates all of these personal projects together, so anyone can browse through them and look for stuff that sounds fun.
The goal is to increase contributions from outside by giving them a ready list of projects of all sizes and difficulty levels to work on, projects that go beyond what happens at Bugday. Further, it could also help current Gentoo developers who are bored or have lost interest in what they’re doing by helping them to find somewhere new to contribute.
A prototype with just my projects is at http://dev.gentoo.org/~dberkholz/proj/
Thanks for your comments!
Ever want to get a lot of work done? Find something that really sucks to do, and then put it off. That’s right. Don’t do it—instead, do every little bit of work you can to avoid having to pick up that hated task. You’ll soon find that the more your procrastinated task sucks to do, the more work you’ll get done on other fronts, even the stuff you would normally find insanely boring.
So, try it. Don’t do something.