A community is not a committee

From time to time, you'll hear people disparage communities (open-source and otherwise) as "design by committee."  But it's just not true! Communities are the antithesis of committees. Communities get everything right that committees so notoriously get wrong:

  • Community members are here because they're interested, not because it's their job.
  • Community members are here to contribute, not to hold a stake.
  • Community members are here to accept responsibility, not to diffuse it.
  • Community members are here to help task-owners think through problems, not to coerce compliance.
  • Community members are here to review and educate "noobies," not to put them down or dominate them.

In communities, the decisions get made by the people willing to do the work.

At least, healthy communities work that way. How's your community doing?

By way of references, thanks, and further reading, let me point out two other net resources:

Posted in Agile, TeamForge
One comment on “A community is not a committee
  1. Guy Martin says:

    I’ll post here what I did on Twitter, but will also try to come out with a blog post of my own building on what Jack has said.
    Basically, I echo Jack’s commentary above, but would also add that for customers who think that building a ‘reuse catalog’ will automatically invite community into the process, you are mistaken. Not to put too fine a point on it, but a reuse catalog is like that row of 2 inch thick three ring binders on the shelf of a gov office that *NO ONE* ever reads or uses again.
    If you want to get the most out of your software assets, you need to focus on identifying them (the first part of the catalog analogy), but then also find out who is currently building these components and how you can encourage them to include others in the process (the community building aspect).
    -Guy

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