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Avoiding Maslow’s Hammer:
Or the problem of the Birmingham
Screwdriver in Open Source Non-profits
Stephen R. Walli
Open Source Ecosystem Team, Azure Office of the CTO
10/19/22 3
10/19/22 4
I’m worried …
10/19/22 5
… Because I’ve been doing this a while now
• IEEE Founding member P1003 Project Management Committee (1990-1999)
• Technical Director, Outercurve Foundation (2010-2013)
”The Rise and Evolution of the Open Source Software Foundation” (with Paula Hunter)
• Linux Foundation
• Microsoft Board alternate (current)
• Founding member, Open Container Initiative, (2015-2017)
• Founding member, Board Chair, Confidential Computing Consortium, (2019-2022)
• Founding member, Treasurer, eBPF Foundation, (2019-2022)
• Mentoring Microsoft members in LF Energy, the Green Software Foundation, OpenSSF
• Eclipse Foundation
• Microsoft Board member (2021-2022)
• Founding member, Steering Committee Chair, Software Defined Vehicle WG, (2021-2022)
• IEEE WG Chair, P3190, Recommended Practices for OSS Projects (2022)
• Along the way ISO, ECMA, OCP, LF Cloud Foundry, OpenStack, LF Open Manufacturing
Platform (and JDF), and OMG/Digital Twin Consortium …
• [Almost] all the engagement has been from a product management perspective
10/19/22 6
Acceleration …
Starting to see cracks in the foundations …
• Linux Foundation directed funds, Eclipse Foundation working groups,
and Apache Software Foundation board
• New non-profits/projects/sub-foundations are also struggling to
‘establish governance’
• And the desire to merge ‘specifications work’ with ‘open source work’
is creating its own challenges in clashing economic and engineering
cultures
• There is an immediate desire to reach for governance discussions …
and a naivete that somehow this is about establishing voting systems
• Cue the trusty presentations …
Transparency
(Clear communications, No back channels)
“Chop wood and carry water”
(Bias for doing work)
Respect, Diversity, Inclusion
(Codes of Conduct)
https://www.contributor-covenant.org/
Ask Not What Your Community
Can Do For You
There is NO Community
Except for the one you build
How does an open source project work?
What is the purpose of an open source non-profit?
How does an open source project work?
Because a non-profit can’t ‘fix’ a project
What is the purpose of an open source non-profit?
Because non-profit governance isn’t project culture
Maintainers Share Innovation Outbound
Maintainers
+
Working
Code
10/19/22 16
There can be no
expectation of anything
in return
Projects have culture;
Governance is the
documentation of that
(software) culture
Building Community Captures Innovation Inbound
Developers
Maintainers
+
Working
Code
10/19/22 17
Contributors
There can be no
expectation of anything
in return, but building on-ramps
can enable and encourage
contribution
Communities can evolve
their governance, or
maintain an evolving
culture (e.g., Kubernetes
vs Linux)
With enough ‘activity’ you can build an ecosystem
Developers
Users
Maintainers
+
Working
Code
Books
Contractors
Products
Distributions
Consulting
Training
10/19/22 18
Henrik Ingo’s Number Crunch (2010)
http://openlife.cc/blogs/2010/november/how-grow-your-open-source-project-10x-and-revenues-5x
EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering
Fall 2021 19
Somehow, Non-profits have a purpose
10/19/22 20
Maintainer(s)
Contributors
Community
Ecosystem
Project
Products
Services
Books
Training
The Evolution of an Open Source Project
EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering
Fall 2021 21
Maintainers
Contributors
Community
Ecosystem
Project
Products
Services
Books
Training
Corporate
Contributors
Customers
The Evolution of an Open Source Project
Personal
Liability
EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering
Fall 2021 22
Maintainers
Contributors
Community
Ecosystem
Project
Products
Services
Books
Training
Corporate
Contributors
Customers
The Evolution … stops
Personal
Liability
EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering
Fall 2021 23
Maintainers
Contributors
Community
Ecosystem
Project
Products
Services
Books
Training
Corporate
Contributors
Customers
A Non-Profit Enables The Next Evolution
IP Neutrality,
Liability Management
http://www.ifosslr.org/ifosslr/article/view/64
Business Management,
Marketing, Events
EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering
Fall 2021 24
Engineering/
Partner?/
Customer?/
Maintainers
Engineering/
Partner?/
Customer?/
Contributors
Community
Ecosystem
Project
Products
Services
Books
Training
Partner/Customer
Contributors
The Evolution of a Corporate Owned Open Source Project
Setting Customer and Partner Expectations in Community is Critical
EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering
Fall 2021 25
Engineering/
Partner?/
Customer?/
Maintainers
Engineering/
Partner?/
Customer?/
Contributors
Community
Ecosystem
Project
Products
Services
Books
Training
Engineering
Partner/Customer
Contributors
The Modern Reality of a Corporate Open Source Project
Setting Customer and Partner Expectations in Community is Critical
?
EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering
Fall 2021 26
Strategic
Engineering/
Partner?/
Customer?/
Competitors?/
Maintainers
Engineering/
Partner?/
Customer?/
Competitors?/
Contributors
Community
Ecosystem
Project
Products
Services
Books
Training
Partners/Competitors
Contributors
The Modern Reality of Corporate Strategic Open Source
Collaboration
Setting Collaborator Expectations in Community is Critical
?
EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering
Fall 2021 27
Project Growth Hits a Natural Ceiling
Building the
Software
Sharing Innovation
Outbound
Building the
Community
Capturing Innovation Inbound
Two Problems Naturally Occur in the Wild:
1. Personal liability becomes a problem for
Maintainers
2. Companies engaging to consume/contribute
need more ownership stability/neutrality
and provenance
Two Different Problems Occur With Industry
Partners:
1. The originating company may* need to
signal neutrally (giving up asset control) via
a neutral non-profit third party
2. Partners may need anti-trust protections in
place to hold discussions
* Context projects don’t need to do this
10/19/22 28
Solve for these problems with Non-profits
(A Third Set of Activities Distinct from Project Engineering and Community Building)
Building the
Software
(Sharing Innovation
Outbound)
Building the Community
(Capturing Innovation Inbound)
Building the Non-profit
(Remove Risk, Hold Assets,
Collect and Distribute Funds,
Anchor the message)
10/19/22 29
Cultures and Practices
(Project Engineering, Community Building, Non-profit Management)
Building the
Software
(Sharing Innovation
Outbound)
Building the Community
(Capturing Innovation Inbound)
Building the Non-profit
(Remove Risk, Hold Assets, Collect and Distribute
Funds, Anchor the message)
10/19/22 30
A culture of
enabling work
Document the
activities/practices
that make it easy to
use and build the
project, and how
project decisions
are made
A culture of enabling contribution
Document the additional activities, practices,
organizational structures, values that make it
easy to participate, contribute, make
(community) decisions, etc.
A culture of mentoring (new) members
Make new participants successful and enable their
growth within the community
A culture of promoting stability
Outline the fiduciary responsibility of the
organizational members and document the
non-profit scope & mission, and document
the activities, practices, structures, values,
and how non-profit decisions are made
A culture of organizational responsibility
Manage how organizational work gets done
(members vs staff, FTE vs contract)
A culture of mentoring (new) members
Make new members successful and enable their
growth within the non-profit
Cultures and Practices (THE MONEY SLIDE)
(Project Engineering, Community Building, Non-profit Management)
Building the
Software
(Sharing Innovation
Outbound)
Building the Community
(Capturing Innovation Inbound)
Building the Non-profit
(Remove Risk, Hold Assets, Collect and Distribute
Funds, Anchor the message)
10/19/22 31
A culture of
enabling work
Document the
activities/practices
that make it easy to
use and build the
project, and how
project decisions
are made
A culture of enabling contribution
Document the additional activities, practices,
organizational structures, values that make it
easy to participate, contribute, make
(community) decisions, etc.
A culture of mentoring (new) members
Make new participants successful and enable their
growth within the community
A culture of promoting stability
Outline the fiduciary responsibility of the
organizational members and document the
non-profit scope & mission, and document
the activities, practices, structures, values,
and how non-profit decisions are made
A culture of organizational responsibility
Manage how organizational work gets done
(members vs staff, FTE vs contract)
A culture of mentoring (new) members
Make new members successful and enable their
growth within the non-profit
Cultures and Practices (THE MONEY SLIDE)
(Project Engineering, Community Building, Non-profit Management)
Building the
Software
(Sharing Innovation
Outbound)
Building the Community
(Capturing Innovation Inbound)
Building the Non-profit
(Remove Risk, Hold Assets, Collect and Distribute
Funds, Anchor the message)
10/19/22 32
A culture of
enabling work
Document the
activities/practices
that make it easy to
use and build the
project, and how
project decisions
are made
A culture of enabling contribution
Document the additional activities, practices,
organizational structures, values that make it
easy to participate, contribute, make
(community) decisions, etc.
A culture of mentoring (new) members
Make new participants successful and enable their
growth within the community
A culture of promoting stability
Outline the fiduciary responsibility of the
organizational members and document the
non-profit scope & mission, and document
the activities, practices, structures, values,
and how non-profit decisions are made
A culture of organizational responsibility
Manage how organizational work gets done
(members vs staff, FTE vs contract)
A culture of mentoring (new) members
Make new members successful and enable their
growth within the non-profit
Project Community
L
e
g
a
l
S
t
r
u
c
t
u
r
e
Long-term infinite game culture is a requirement for
success – which requires trust
10/19/22 33
Any competitive (finite game) behavior breaks trust
Absolute transparency and avoiding competitive
conflicts of interest builds integrity so builds trust
Culture, Infinite Games, and Trust
Adding New Projects and/or Sub-‘Foundations’
(What are the structural, legal, fiduciary relationships)
Adding New ‘Foundations’
(Remove Risk, Hold Assets, Collect and Distribute
Funds, Anchor the message)
10/19/22 34
A culture of promoting stability
Outline the responsibilities of the
organizational members and document the
processes that create the organizational sub-
structures and the activities, practices,
structures, values, and how the sub-unit
decisions are made
A culture of organizational responsibility
Manage how organizational work gets done
(members vs staff, FTE vs contract), risk & liability are
handled in the sub-structure
A culture of mentoring (new) members
Make new members successful and enable their
growth within the non-profit
N.B. At no time have I mentioned ‘growth’ as a goal
10/19/22 35
EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering
Fall 2021 36
EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering
Fall 2021 37
These Landscape Top-Line Metrics Aren’t Meaningful …
These Metrics are focused on revenue growth …
10/19/22 39
“You are viewing 1,143 cards with a total of 3,305,737
stars, market cap of $20.7T and funding of $53.2B.”
Cultures and Practices
(Project Engineering, Community Building, Non-profit Management)
Building the
Software
(Sharing Innovation
Outbound)
Building the Community
(Capturing Innovation Inbound)
Building the Non-profit
(Remove Risk, Hold Assets, Collect and Distribute
Funds, Anchor the message)
10/19/22 40
A culture of
enabling work
Document the
activities/practices
that make it easy to
use and build the
project, and how
project decisions
are made
A culture of enabling contribution
Document the additional activities, practices,
organizational structures, values that make it
easy to participate, contribute, make
(community) decisions, etc.
A culture of mentoring (new) members
Make new participants successful and enable their
growth within the community
A culture of promoting stability
Outline the fiduciary responsibility of the
organizational members and document the
non-profit scope & mission, and document
the activities, practices, structures, values,
and how non-profit decisions are made
A culture of organizational responsibility
Manage how organizational work gets done
(members vs staff, FTE vs contract)
A culture of mentoring (new) members
Make new members successful and enable their
growth within the non-profit
Q&A
10/19/22 41

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Avoiding Maslow’s Hammer: Or the Problem of the Birmingham Screwdriver in Open Source Non-profits

  • 1. Avoiding Maslow’s Hammer: Or the problem of the Birmingham Screwdriver in Open Source Non-profits Stephen R. Walli Open Source Ecosystem Team, Azure Office of the CTO
  • 5. … Because I’ve been doing this a while now • IEEE Founding member P1003 Project Management Committee (1990-1999) • Technical Director, Outercurve Foundation (2010-2013) ”The Rise and Evolution of the Open Source Software Foundation” (with Paula Hunter) • Linux Foundation • Microsoft Board alternate (current) • Founding member, Open Container Initiative, (2015-2017) • Founding member, Board Chair, Confidential Computing Consortium, (2019-2022) • Founding member, Treasurer, eBPF Foundation, (2019-2022) • Mentoring Microsoft members in LF Energy, the Green Software Foundation, OpenSSF • Eclipse Foundation • Microsoft Board member (2021-2022) • Founding member, Steering Committee Chair, Software Defined Vehicle WG, (2021-2022) • IEEE WG Chair, P3190, Recommended Practices for OSS Projects (2022) • Along the way ISO, ECMA, OCP, LF Cloud Foundry, OpenStack, LF Open Manufacturing Platform (and JDF), and OMG/Digital Twin Consortium … • [Almost] all the engagement has been from a product management perspective 10/19/22 6
  • 7. Starting to see cracks in the foundations … • Linux Foundation directed funds, Eclipse Foundation working groups, and Apache Software Foundation board • New non-profits/projects/sub-foundations are also struggling to ‘establish governance’ • And the desire to merge ‘specifications work’ with ‘open source work’ is creating its own challenges in clashing economic and engineering cultures • There is an immediate desire to reach for governance discussions … and a naivete that somehow this is about establishing voting systems • Cue the trusty presentations …
  • 9. “Chop wood and carry water” (Bias for doing work)
  • 10. Respect, Diversity, Inclusion (Codes of Conduct) https://www.contributor-covenant.org/
  • 11. Ask Not What Your Community Can Do For You
  • 12. There is NO Community Except for the one you build
  • 13. How does an open source project work? What is the purpose of an open source non-profit?
  • 14. How does an open source project work? Because a non-profit can’t ‘fix’ a project What is the purpose of an open source non-profit? Because non-profit governance isn’t project culture
  • 15. Maintainers Share Innovation Outbound Maintainers + Working Code 10/19/22 16 There can be no expectation of anything in return Projects have culture; Governance is the documentation of that (software) culture
  • 16. Building Community Captures Innovation Inbound Developers Maintainers + Working Code 10/19/22 17 Contributors There can be no expectation of anything in return, but building on-ramps can enable and encourage contribution Communities can evolve their governance, or maintain an evolving culture (e.g., Kubernetes vs Linux)
  • 17. With enough ‘activity’ you can build an ecosystem Developers Users Maintainers + Working Code Books Contractors Products Distributions Consulting Training 10/19/22 18
  • 18. Henrik Ingo’s Number Crunch (2010) http://openlife.cc/blogs/2010/november/how-grow-your-open-source-project-10x-and-revenues-5x EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering Fall 2021 19
  • 19. Somehow, Non-profits have a purpose 10/19/22 20
  • 20. Maintainer(s) Contributors Community Ecosystem Project Products Services Books Training The Evolution of an Open Source Project EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering Fall 2021 21
  • 21. Maintainers Contributors Community Ecosystem Project Products Services Books Training Corporate Contributors Customers The Evolution of an Open Source Project Personal Liability EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering Fall 2021 22
  • 23. Maintainers Contributors Community Ecosystem Project Products Services Books Training Corporate Contributors Customers A Non-Profit Enables The Next Evolution IP Neutrality, Liability Management http://www.ifosslr.org/ifosslr/article/view/64 Business Management, Marketing, Events EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering Fall 2021 24
  • 24. Engineering/ Partner?/ Customer?/ Maintainers Engineering/ Partner?/ Customer?/ Contributors Community Ecosystem Project Products Services Books Training Partner/Customer Contributors The Evolution of a Corporate Owned Open Source Project Setting Customer and Partner Expectations in Community is Critical EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering Fall 2021 25
  • 25. Engineering/ Partner?/ Customer?/ Maintainers Engineering/ Partner?/ Customer?/ Contributors Community Ecosystem Project Products Services Books Training Engineering Partner/Customer Contributors The Modern Reality of a Corporate Open Source Project Setting Customer and Partner Expectations in Community is Critical ? EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering Fall 2021 26 Strategic
  • 26. Engineering/ Partner?/ Customer?/ Competitors?/ Maintainers Engineering/ Partner?/ Customer?/ Competitors?/ Contributors Community Ecosystem Project Products Services Books Training Partners/Competitors Contributors The Modern Reality of Corporate Strategic Open Source Collaboration Setting Collaborator Expectations in Community is Critical ? EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering Fall 2021 27
  • 27. Project Growth Hits a Natural Ceiling Building the Software Sharing Innovation Outbound Building the Community Capturing Innovation Inbound Two Problems Naturally Occur in the Wild: 1. Personal liability becomes a problem for Maintainers 2. Companies engaging to consume/contribute need more ownership stability/neutrality and provenance Two Different Problems Occur With Industry Partners: 1. The originating company may* need to signal neutrally (giving up asset control) via a neutral non-profit third party 2. Partners may need anti-trust protections in place to hold discussions * Context projects don’t need to do this 10/19/22 28
  • 28. Solve for these problems with Non-profits (A Third Set of Activities Distinct from Project Engineering and Community Building) Building the Software (Sharing Innovation Outbound) Building the Community (Capturing Innovation Inbound) Building the Non-profit (Remove Risk, Hold Assets, Collect and Distribute Funds, Anchor the message) 10/19/22 29
  • 29. Cultures and Practices (Project Engineering, Community Building, Non-profit Management) Building the Software (Sharing Innovation Outbound) Building the Community (Capturing Innovation Inbound) Building the Non-profit (Remove Risk, Hold Assets, Collect and Distribute Funds, Anchor the message) 10/19/22 30 A culture of enabling work Document the activities/practices that make it easy to use and build the project, and how project decisions are made A culture of enabling contribution Document the additional activities, practices, organizational structures, values that make it easy to participate, contribute, make (community) decisions, etc. A culture of mentoring (new) members Make new participants successful and enable their growth within the community A culture of promoting stability Outline the fiduciary responsibility of the organizational members and document the non-profit scope & mission, and document the activities, practices, structures, values, and how non-profit decisions are made A culture of organizational responsibility Manage how organizational work gets done (members vs staff, FTE vs contract) A culture of mentoring (new) members Make new members successful and enable their growth within the non-profit
  • 30. Cultures and Practices (THE MONEY SLIDE) (Project Engineering, Community Building, Non-profit Management) Building the Software (Sharing Innovation Outbound) Building the Community (Capturing Innovation Inbound) Building the Non-profit (Remove Risk, Hold Assets, Collect and Distribute Funds, Anchor the message) 10/19/22 31 A culture of enabling work Document the activities/practices that make it easy to use and build the project, and how project decisions are made A culture of enabling contribution Document the additional activities, practices, organizational structures, values that make it easy to participate, contribute, make (community) decisions, etc. A culture of mentoring (new) members Make new participants successful and enable their growth within the community A culture of promoting stability Outline the fiduciary responsibility of the organizational members and document the non-profit scope & mission, and document the activities, practices, structures, values, and how non-profit decisions are made A culture of organizational responsibility Manage how organizational work gets done (members vs staff, FTE vs contract) A culture of mentoring (new) members Make new members successful and enable their growth within the non-profit
  • 31. Cultures and Practices (THE MONEY SLIDE) (Project Engineering, Community Building, Non-profit Management) Building the Software (Sharing Innovation Outbound) Building the Community (Capturing Innovation Inbound) Building the Non-profit (Remove Risk, Hold Assets, Collect and Distribute Funds, Anchor the message) 10/19/22 32 A culture of enabling work Document the activities/practices that make it easy to use and build the project, and how project decisions are made A culture of enabling contribution Document the additional activities, practices, organizational structures, values that make it easy to participate, contribute, make (community) decisions, etc. A culture of mentoring (new) members Make new participants successful and enable their growth within the community A culture of promoting stability Outline the fiduciary responsibility of the organizational members and document the non-profit scope & mission, and document the activities, practices, structures, values, and how non-profit decisions are made A culture of organizational responsibility Manage how organizational work gets done (members vs staff, FTE vs contract) A culture of mentoring (new) members Make new members successful and enable their growth within the non-profit Project Community L e g a l S t r u c t u r e
  • 32. Long-term infinite game culture is a requirement for success – which requires trust 10/19/22 33 Any competitive (finite game) behavior breaks trust Absolute transparency and avoiding competitive conflicts of interest builds integrity so builds trust Culture, Infinite Games, and Trust
  • 33. Adding New Projects and/or Sub-‘Foundations’ (What are the structural, legal, fiduciary relationships) Adding New ‘Foundations’ (Remove Risk, Hold Assets, Collect and Distribute Funds, Anchor the message) 10/19/22 34 A culture of promoting stability Outline the responsibilities of the organizational members and document the processes that create the organizational sub- structures and the activities, practices, structures, values, and how the sub-unit decisions are made A culture of organizational responsibility Manage how organizational work gets done (members vs staff, FTE vs contract), risk & liability are handled in the sub-structure A culture of mentoring (new) members Make new members successful and enable their growth within the non-profit
  • 34. N.B. At no time have I mentioned ‘growth’ as a goal 10/19/22 35
  • 35. EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering Fall 2021 36
  • 36. EN.601.270: Open Source Software Engineering Fall 2021 37
  • 37.
  • 38. These Landscape Top-Line Metrics Aren’t Meaningful … These Metrics are focused on revenue growth … 10/19/22 39 “You are viewing 1,143 cards with a total of 3,305,737 stars, market cap of $20.7T and funding of $53.2B.”
  • 39. Cultures and Practices (Project Engineering, Community Building, Non-profit Management) Building the Software (Sharing Innovation Outbound) Building the Community (Capturing Innovation Inbound) Building the Non-profit (Remove Risk, Hold Assets, Collect and Distribute Funds, Anchor the message) 10/19/22 40 A culture of enabling work Document the activities/practices that make it easy to use and build the project, and how project decisions are made A culture of enabling contribution Document the additional activities, practices, organizational structures, values that make it easy to participate, contribute, make (community) decisions, etc. A culture of mentoring (new) members Make new participants successful and enable their growth within the community A culture of promoting stability Outline the fiduciary responsibility of the organizational members and document the non-profit scope & mission, and document the activities, practices, structures, values, and how non-profit decisions are made A culture of organizational responsibility Manage how organizational work gets done (members vs staff, FTE vs contract) A culture of mentoring (new) members Make new members successful and enable their growth within the non-profit