The thing I like about the internet, is that it easily cures me from believing to be original. Through Nynke Fokma and Lynne Azpeitia I got this link to
What business can learn from open source and blogging by Paul Graham. I am resonating a lot on this one.
So these, I think, are the three big lessons open source and blogging have to teach business: (1) that people work harder on stuff they like, (2) that the standard office environment is very unproductive, and (3) that bottom-up often works better than top-down.
Ever since reading The Timeless Way of Building, I’ve been looking at many office environments with bewilderment. Usually, they’re not the right place to be creative. Even with all the values and practices of agile software development that can make it more predictable, It takes time to play and reflect to arrive at truly simple solutions. If I want to solve something, or ever write,
I’m usually better off going into the garden for a bit. How many offices do you know that have gardens?
At the end of the piece Paul Graham goes into startup culture (as most startups start out of home). When people ask me what it is like to run your own company, like I do, I usually say (with a smile) ‘don’t try this at home, kids’. But, as Paul Graham writes:
And as the example of open source and blogging suggests, you’ll enjoy it more, even if you fail. You’ll be working on your own thing, instead of going to some office and doing what you’re told. There may be more pain in your own company, but it won’t hurt as much.
I had some pain, it does hurt, but not as much. I ‘ve met people who paid far more ‘learning money’ than I did (so far). If something goes wrong, I’ve got only myself to blame, I can learn, and try again. Recently I find, that I am finding more and more the work I excel at and enjoy. As Lynne says: ‘live the life you imagine’.
I believe that the growing popularity of blogging, open source, wikipedia, Dilbert, agile (software development) and starting your own company is no coincidence. People are looking for better ways to live and work, and many are no longer waiting, like children, for their employer to make this happen.
Do I believe it is possible to achieve this inside companies as well? Yes, if you manage to change slowly, work with proven results, and keep playing the ‘professional’ games necessary to keep you in step with the rest of the company. Many agile teams enjoy more fun and productivity, and other ways of working and more respectful interactions are spreading. For most of us, it’s probably easier to try other ways on our own, or within the confines of a team (but watch out for being too succesful .
Some businesses can change from the inside, many business can change only if there is sufficient outside (e.g. market) pressure. Many more change into non-existance, because they are outcompeted. It’s no coincidence.