Open Sourcing Your Life

I often skip Dave Pollard’s blog entries, because they are rather long pieces of text. Yet, Dave’s latest posting struck me:

Our traditional education system teaches learned helplessness, and does not teach us how to make a living for ourselves. It perfectly feeds the industrial business-political-economic system, which wants an excess of cheap, frightened, obedient, dependent labour.

That’s basically how I felt at school and (a bit less though) at university. I dropped out of university, because at that point I had learned what I wanted to learn and it did not make any sense to me to invest two more years just to hold a piece of paper in my hands.

In the same blog entry, Dave writes:

Get a bunch of us together, bunches of bunches of us together, to start imagining how this virtuous cycle could work, perhaps using Open Source, telling stories of this Natural Economy as if it already existed.

Right, Open Source is also a way of living, a way of supporting what Dave calls “Natural Economy”. That’s why I only work for Open Source companies. I would die like a flower not getting enough sun and water in a proprietary company – which reminds me of IBM Distinguished Engineer Gunter Dueck, who believes that human beings should be treated like flowers with some of us loving the sunny deserts with little rain and others enjoying the shadows of a rain forest.

Linux goes Management

The way how the Linux community is organised gets growing awareness in management, not only in that of software companies. Harvard Business Review published an article entitled Collaboration Rules, were the Linux community is being compared with the organisational structure of Toyota. The article is in general worth to read. I have read the
German version which is published in the current issue of Harvard Business Manager.

The authors’ basic statement is: “Corporate leaders seeking to boost growth, learning, and innovation may find the answer in a surprising place: the Linux open-source software community.” And they continue: “Specifically, Toyota and Linux operate by rules that blend the self-organizing advantages of markets with the low transaction costs of hierarchies.”

Management will indeed be able to learn a lot from Linux or the FOSS movement in general, as it can be regarded as the prototype organisational form of knowledge work. Today, most products are knowledge-based, even if it is simply the design of your coffee cup. Thus, the culture of open sources can be applied to various companies of any kind.

The article analyzes what I’d call a company culture of open sources, where information is freely shared between various stakeholders of a production process, be it software (Linux) or industrial goods (Toyota). Such a company culture is very much one that gives community members or employees the freedom to develop their skills and personality.

Unfortunately, the article deals with the aspects of knowledge companies for individuals only marginally. It could nicely be approached from the notion of humans as open sources as elaborated in the latest book of Gunter Dueck: Topothesie (German only). Then it becomes obvious, that doing it the Linux way also means a change of management styles and human interaction at work in general.