Community Discussion - Part 5

Oh yes, I’m still going at it folks! Let’s discuss :-)

This time round I’d like us to discuss Collaboration, Learning, Listening and Leading.  Let me clarify what I mean by Collaboration; I’m NOT talking about Groupwise/Exchange/Zimbra/Alfresco/SharePoint/Kablink style collabortaion, but I AM talking about working with other parties and teams.

Within openSUSE as with other distributions there are multiple teams/projects that in some cases could be classed as competitors – GNOME & KDE are a prime example.  Just because they are trying to get you to use them doesn’t mean they can’t have some commonality (other than the underlying OS).  I’d love to see more collaboration with other distributions, working with them on the topic of say RPM as an example.  Working with upstream DEs and other distros to improve the likes of a11y (that’s accessibility for thos that aren’t aware, you know – audio/visual/etc impaired), education. You get the idea?  Quite often we need to just look past our differences and get on with the job, soon we’ll realise (hoipefully) that we are pretty much the same the difference is in the implementation.  If we focus locally on how we can collaborate within openSUSE alone then we need to work together with a focused vision and take a demographic, say developers, and get everyone interested to chip in with ways of making it easier and better for developers to use openSUSE.  Both KDE and GNOME can easily contribute to this, as can documentation gurus and others.  The key here is to have a clearly defined target and work together, effectively combining multiple teams into one.

So what about Learning?  Well the most obvious way to learn is from history.  I’m not saying we need to dig up the text books from school and see what Claudius Maximus Aurellius did in ancient Rome, but look at the histroy of openSUSE and see what we did right and crucially what we did wrong.  Look at it and see if it still applies today and how we can do it right.  Another way of learning is from our competitors and counterparts, the likes of Ubuntu, Fedora and all the other distros and projects do some great work (whether one likes to admit it or not).  We need to take note of what/how/why they did and see if it applies to us and could we improve it.  I think there is too much of a taboo on emulating what others do, if it works then do it!  Why on earth should we re-invent the blessed wheel?

Something that we are getting a bit better at is Listening.  We’re not great at it, but the movement is in the right direction.  When listening it’s best to just slow down a touch and actually take stock of what is being said, also take note of how it is being said.  The message could get lost or garbled due to the way it is being passed, and if we don’t focus on listening we may not notice that little fact and end up not really paying attention to the message, when in fact the message is actually very important or beneficial to us.  We need to listen to not just our community but also to those communities that we interact with and indirectly depend on – I’m mostly talking about upstream here.  There’s a lot of passive learning to be had from just listening ;-)

When it comes to being a Lead, you don’t have to be a nominated by committee or anything – grab the bull by the cahunas and run with it! Go with your instinct, unless you are a complete loonie you will have some reasonable rationale for doing whatever it is and can easily explain to others why/what you are doing.  Don’t be scared, empower yourself and show others that what you’re doing is cool and actually benefits us.

So does anyone have any examples of where we could benefit by collaborating?  Or what about how we can improve on the instances where we are already collaborating?  What about examples of lessons to be learned from?  Yes this could get political and charged, but remember stay calm and focused – it’s easier for people to pay attention that way ;-)  How about listening, any examples of where we failed or where we actually got it?  I’d also like to see who you think show good leadership, and also how/why.  This isn’t about who you’d like to see as the next Chairperson for the board or what ever but people that have grabbed those cahunas and run to the finish line.

There is one item that is constant throughout – focus!  If we stay focused then we can do almost anything, even by me a drink :-)