In this episode of Le Podcast, I had the pleasure of discussing with Julien Danjou. Julien has more than 20 years of experience as an open source software hacker. Julien wrote two books about Python.
I wanted to ask him about the myth of 10x Engineers and what advice he could have for Engineers who want to grow their skills.
According to Julien, above the technical aspect that everybody think of, two other aspects are essential to grow as a software engineer: understanding the business, and understanding the social component.
I loved all the examples Julien gave and that could be put into practice immediately. It resonates a lot with me and I think it aligns very well with Michael and I shared in our new book I am a Software Engineer and I am in Charge. I hope that I will have the opportunity to discuss the book with Julien soon!
Our talk was meant to explain how we were inspired by agile values and principles to improve our internal organization, and how we thought it could impact our ability to contribute more effectively to the OpenStack project.
One of the idea that is often used to describe the way companies are contributing to open source project is that you need at some point to wear your company hat to represent what your company needs, and some times you need to wear your upstream hat to represent what the project needs. We speak some time of the need to balance between upstream and downstream.
Our point was to say that this idea represents the reality perfectly well in projects were the developers are the users of the projects. In this case they are solving problems they are facing on a regular basis.
The OpenStack project is more complex in this sense that the developers are rarely the main users of the project. They don’t have to operate a large scale cloud on a day to day basis.
So, to be able to understand the needs, and to propose effective solutions, the developers of the project need to hear from the real users. That’s were they need to wear at the same time their corporate and upstream hats, because the customers and partners of their company represents the needs of the real users, and wearing those hats they are bringing a lot of value to the project by proxying the real users.
We also explored the fact that when the reaction toward one of the idea that we were bringing on the table was really hostile, there was probably good reason for that, and that was great value for our company that the project was bringing to us. This obvioulsy can only be achieved when the maturity of the project is high enough, especially on the corporate diversity aspect.
We covered after that how we were organizing the teams that are contributing to OpenStack by giving them a clear focus to solve some real user’s needs, and end to end responibility to solve this. Those teams are primary responsible for contributing to some of the components, but the components are not driving the structure of the organization.
For each team, we want the team members to understand their mission, their goals, and to drive their contribution in the value flow.
Here is the recording of the session:
For the next Summit in Barcelona, I proposed 3 talks:
The first one with Maria Bracho: “Providing Tooling for Effective Collaboration”
The second one with Nick Barcet: “Does your voice count in OpenStack? Yes!” this one could be consider as a followup of the talk given this spring
The third one: “Raising the awareness on diversity”, one workshop during the last summit was an eye opener for me, and I would like to continue the effort to raise the awarness on that topic.