26 Nov 2002
(updated 26 Nov 2002 at 14:42 UTC) »
wrote: "What I don't understand is when people turn software development into some sort of "moral" or "political" cause."
I don't understand why they would want to do that either. They are just shooting themselves in the foot. It seems to me that they are either nuts or they have their priorities seriously messed up. Maybe both. There is always a good reason for politics and moral causes, but they have their place and time. That place and time is not, imho, in an open source development project.
When I see politicking being woven with a preexisting mission it tends to remove the focus from the original mission. Of course we must acknowledge that the culture of an organization is a fundamental element. It plays a supporting role. It needs to be fundamental to the mission for the mission to succeed, but it can't be replacing the mission. Maybe it is a lack of planning. Even a lack of understanding of the dynamics of working with organizations and people that these poor folks are wrestling with. Their conflict seems to be caused by a lack of definition of the goals and vision. It is, above all, a lack of strategic planning.
Yeah, yeah, I know some of you have heard me rant endlessly for the past three months about planning, but this is exactly why. GOOD INTENTIONS DON'T CUT IT!!! It is absolutely critical that you walk that terrible mile before you launch your operations. Hell, the planning stage ultimately defines the operations. If you put planning at the top of your priority list, invest in the process by spending your time, blood, sweat and tears to clearly understand what it is that you want to do, you will emerge with one of two options:
Option One: You realize that your idea is not attainable or needs some serious work. You stop and rethink everything before you waste your (and other's) time and look like a complete fool.
Option Two: You see the flaws in your plan and fix them. You see every foreseeable obstacle and tailor the fundamentals of your organization to be able to deal with them. You end up reasonably comfortable that you will be able to succeed at your mission, and you step on to the the next round of blood, sweat and tears with the fear that you missed something.
Of course there is a third option. You can convince yourself that just because you put your plan on paper and showed it to some yes-men that it is a good plan and you proceed to waste time and resources before failing miserably and look like a complete jackass. Sorry it is so harsh, but it is so very true. Never underestimate the value of your resident grumpy bastard.
Unfortunately, strategic planning seems to be this big mystery out there for the business and community organization alike. The barriers to entry are high because no one has really designed an easy way to get through it. Probably because there isn't an easy path to take. If you find one, think twice. It probably is the wrong path.
It is all about the process. You are creating a living document that must be growing with your operations and your organization's evolving values. I think this is one of the primary problems facing open source projects. Look at the exploding popularity of open source over the past year. The old ways are not working any more. I think every project has seen that growth become an issue over the past couple of years, even if they were prepared.
Planning is where you draw all of the defining lines. The line between what you are and what you are going to do. You build the relationship between what you believe and how you are going to realize your beliefs in your work. If you are going to be a political organization, you will know it and that will be what you focus on. If you are developing software, then don't you dare let me catch you lobbying political agendas. I really don't want to see open source fail.
So whatcha gonna do, Grapey? I am going to grab that rascal planning process by it's stiff neck and integrate it with the development process. That's what I am going to do. I want to provide those projects with the framework they lack and have them focus on planning for their product. I don't want to give people the chance to not plan, so I have got to make it natural and easy ? and free. In fact I don't even want them to know that they are planning because I don't want their brain to get in the way of their gut. It all boils down to that fundamental question that Microsoft so wisely asks, ?Where do you want to go today??