Concretizing Ideas

Time flies when you have some interesting projects on-going. Since the last blog post I started one long term project, again, and now I have three of those. Those long term projects have been running since 2006, 2008 and now 10/2010. If someone is still wondering what projects am I referring, I am talking about my kids. Those little ones are fulfilling  every spare time that I and my wife have and I am not complaining. It is fun to notice how two adults can adapt themselves to different situations several times per day and how things must be organized with small kids. This is also learning  process.

The Original Need

A while ago I wrote about moving ideas forward and now I like to tell something about what my wife has been doing lately. My wife is very pragmatic person and she has a lot of good ideas, I almost envy her. As I said we got baby few weeks ago and naturally we have been waiting him 9-months before birth. During that time my wife was thinking about different choices of early bed to our new born baby and when suitable bed was not found she got an idea.

Simple Idea

In Finland we have an social insurance institution called KELA that offers benefits for families with children (and lots more). One benefit is maternity package that is kind of starter kit for all mothers in Finland. It is a box fulfilled with different products which baby needs like clothes, blankets and other useful stuff. The box itself can be used as a early bed for baby, but it is little bit boring. My wife got an idea where she decided to sew kind of bag where box is inserted. The bag itself contains harness that are used for hanging the installation for example to ceiling. Now we have the hanging early cot that is lightweight, affordable and available for every mother in Finland who has accepted the benefit from KELA

Bootstrapping UINUA.COM

When I saw it for the first time, I felt that it is an idea that must move forward. I said to my wife that she must start to sell those early cots online. Why online? The barrier in starting the online business is low and so are the costs. I think this is a good way to test ideas and now the UINUA.COM is bootstrapping. The first challenge, starting the on-line business was easy, but second challenge is much more bigger. How to get visibility, how to get people on the site, how to build brand: so there are many marketing challenges!

This story will continue!

What makes you “tick”?

In the last post I wrote about ideas and how to make them happen. But now I am wondering what makes you and other people tick in different organization? What are environmental factors that allows people to encounter to challenges what they want to solve? And what kind of organizational functions we need to create that kind of environment?

 

Passion

Passion is something that makes people tick. Somebody may be passionate for running, somebody is passionate for photographing and somebody may be even passionate for working. When people are passionate for something they talk all the time about it, they think about it and what to do next. You know when have you got excited about something and it is almost impossible to stay hold. You talk about it, sketch plans to paper, seek reviews and information about it from Google. What if you have same kind of passion towards daily work?

 

The new way of management

The challenge come in organizations where the traditional management methods take place. You wait for someone (usually your superior) to tell what to do next. You cant influence the content of the task or project and you do it just because it is your job. What if this is changed up-side-down and people could have opportunity to choose the tasks and project they want to do? I know that this is not the easiest thing to change because it may also affect to business models too.

Let’s think about positive sides of the model and imagine that we have different projects available. We have the environment where people have access to information of the available projects. Developers who are interested in project, apply for developing it. It might be possible that everyone are willing to solve same problem and rest of the project don’t get resources. The positive side is that the most interesting project may be also the most beneficial project for both parties (project lead and developers). Developers are happy when they can solve problems they want and motivation is on high level. This leads to better results in the project and project stakeholders are happy too.

Then the other side is when some project does not interest nobody. I would say that kind of project could be rejected before start and again both parties are happier. I would not be happy project manager for the project where developers don’t have enthusiasm towards project.

 

The Change

This kind of change needs paradigm shift in all levels in organization and also huge efforts from information systems. I profess that the more creative and intelligent people are working in organizations the more interesting challenges must be easy to find and access. Working environment must support happy encounters of challenges and solvers!

Building the Innovation Culture

It is over six months since I last time updated my blog. I must admit that it did not feel so long time, maybe it is because I have found myself wrestling with interesting challenges. Those challenges are related to innovation activities and how to inspire people to share their ideas. One part of those activities was defining the “innovation process” and the “innovation network”. Since I am encouraging people to share their ideas, insights and opinions I will also share my thoughts by this blog, so let us begin.

It is all about change, slow change

Changing people attitudes will not happen in a day or two. I have met a lot of people who are distant towards innovation activities, even cynical and some people think that they are not capable for innovation. The latter part is totally crap, everyone is capable for creative thinking but the first thing is about people attitudes. People’s attitudes change slowly and change must be managed from the top: important things like the importance of innovation must be frequently on the frame and people will not forget it.

Innovation Must be Shared Value

The next step from emphasizing the importance of innovation is transforming the innovation to one of the most important values in organization. If values are used efficiently in every day management values are really shared by the people in organization. When the innovation is one of the values it will direct people to common goal: more innovative organization. I have a dream that I do not need to answer anymore to questions like: “Why should I share my idea?” or “Why should we contribute to this process?”.

Access to the Latest Information

As I mentioned earlier, everyone is creative, they just need right inspiration. There are different ways to inspire people and something that works for me does not work for everyone. One thing what have I learned is that access to latest information, hardware and understanding the trends will help in creative thinking. When people have access to those things it will amplify the creativity and people can build on other’s ideas. There is always room for improvements and there is no need for creating entirely novel ideas all the time!

Benevolent Anarchism

The last thing I like to share in this post is something I call “benevolent anarchism”. I bet that every second lots of energy is wasted in bureaucracy and needless processes. This also prevent innovation when some good idea jams in to bureaucracy. But what if we act like benevolent anarchist and do the thing more efficiently without following the process? If things just happen faster and more efficiently I think that is proof that there is no need for that process or bureaucracy. Ok, I admit that needs courage but sometimes it easier to apologize afterwards than ask permission beforehand.

These items that I found important and interesting needs a lot of out-of-the-box thinking. Innovation and efficiency will be on the frame a long time: Without innovation, courage, new ideas and efficient execution of ideas nothing will change and there will not be any “new business” opportunities.

Yep, I am done. Thank you for reading this post!

Innovator Groups

Few weeks have gone very fast and now I am back from the basement chamber. I have been reading lots of books (in my chamber) about innovation and how to make innovation work. In addition to that I had fun time on my vacation with my family at Ruka and after that I spent week skimming the pile of e-mails. That was shortly what has happened during last few weeks, so let’s get started!

Earlier my noble idea was that everyone should innovate but after reading thoughts of respected authors I must admit that it won’t work. Everyone should have opportunity to innovate but the fact is that there are only small amount of people in organizations or in community who are interested in innovation. Usually they are people who always see gaps or improvement ideas in existing products, services, processes etc. Those people who have fresh ideas must be supported and also connect with other people in other parts of organization or community.

We have ideas.symbian.org that has over 1000 ideas submitted by the “innovators” in the community. I was wondering how those innovators could be supported and connected? How their energy could harness to create more focused innovations? I think that if we put more focus on ideas that fits in to Symbian Foundation’s strategy then we could have more competitive platform (in a long term) on the market.

Everyone who has involved somehow to innovation knows that 99% of innovation is perspiration and 1% inspiration. Perspiration means work and without work there are no innovations nor innovative environment. I was wondering if it could be possible to create some innovator groups that have different focus areas. For example, some group is interested innovating around multimedia domain and another around internet domain. Groups have frequent sessions for example once in three months and they brainstorm and generate new ideas to certain area. The result of the session could be for example new features to the package or some solution to the existing problem.

Then the tricky part is organizing this kind of groups and activities. The most active innovators can be found from leaderboard of the ideas.symbian.org, but they can live in different places even different continents. Usually brainstorming is done by the group in same place, face to face. I am not sure how this kind of brainstorming could be done by online tools. Maybe someone has some ideas or experience in using them? I think that this kind of activity could help in creating environment that permits innovation, but it needs perspiration. Thanks for reading!

Importance of the Tools in Innovative Environment

In previous blog posts I have been writing about openness, sharing and collaboration which are the basis for innovative environment. When people are physically in same place openness, sharing and collaboration happens in every day activities. People tend to socialize with colleagues, family and friends and they share their thoughts, opinions and comments.

When we come back to “virtual community” where people are spread all around the globe we need tools for collaboration. Everybody are familiar with different wikis, blogs, discussion boards and issue/task management systems which are basic collaborative tools. They enable sharing ideas, collaboration and increase openness. I think these tools are in place in Symbian community and they are quite well adopted by members. There are lots of entries in Wiki, lively discussions about technology in discussion forums where developers participate. I was thinking how Symbian Foundation could encourage members of the community to collaborate more in development activities?

Project Infrastructure

Now when Symbian Foundation offers basic infrastructure for distributing information by wikis and discussion forums we could extend “the single source of information” to Symbian related projects. I was thinking about idea that in addition to basic communication infra Symbian could offer infrastructure for “incubation project”. The Project Infrastructure could contain version control services and information sharing services.

In practice if I wanted to initiate project which goal is to develop application for Symbian, I just create project and after that I have “project space”. Project space could contain version control for source code and “landing pages” where contributors could get information about tools, practices and so forth.

A good example is Eclipse.org and its list of projects. The list of project could be visible for everybody and developers could easily find interesting project where to start contributing. Also list of project could be a good source of new ideas for OEMs and other members in the community. In addition to that they could also sponsor the development of interesting applications.

My point is that if developer wants to start developing own application with the community, it must be easy. This would also boost innovativeness in the community.

Collaborative IDE

How to boost collaboration in developing software? Mozilla Labs has very interesting project called Bespin which is collaborative development environment for web programming. I was wondering if this kind of approach could be useful also in Symbian development (in future)? I like the idea of development environment that is in “cloud” and I could easily start developing software without extra hassle. I just open web browser, log into my “project space” and start developing code in collaboration with other project members. In theory the collaborative IDE would offer “virtual pair programming environment” where developers could see written code in real time and give instant feedback, comments, opinions etc.

Of course there are obstacles before this kind of approach would be possible including device access, testing, etc. but I think that we need to think future possibilities too.

But that is something I was thinking recently.

chipmunck controller

Lessons Learnt: Creating Nimble Environment that Permits Innovation

It is time to tell something how my “Create Nimble Environment that Permits Innovation” task is proceeding and what kind of observations I have encountered. As I wrote in my first blog post that I will try to get external ideas from the community for my task and then I can refine them to concrete actions. Now I have learned that it is easier said than done.

What I have learnt is following:

  • Own activity: I must be very active to get contributions from community to my task. Activeness is followed by…
  • Visibility: When I am active in different discussions in Symbian and other forums I may get more visibility to my task. So own activity and visibility comes together.
  • Creating buzz: One way to get more visibility is to create buzz around the task and this is not simple thing. I was too optimistic at the beginning when I wrote my first blog article related to this task. It is not enough to create buzz and now I know that this takes more time and cigarettes.
  • Contributions: They follow when we have buzz and visibility. I got few contributions as comments to blog posts and e-mails but it is not enough and I need to think how to get more contributions to this activity.
  • There are lots of good things in “community way of working” that can be used also in daily work. Every day I face challenges when people are working multisite and how information is distributed between teams. Open source communities have solved many of those challenges already. Everybody can learn from open source communities!
Next Steps

On next week we will have Release Council meetings at Tokyo and I must report the status of my task and next steps. If the ultimate goal is to “create nimble environment that permits innovation” then I need to split it to sub-goals or objectives. On next period I will focus to following objectives:

  • Narrowing the scope: focus on council work and how innovative environment is enabled there (best practices, communication and collaboration methods etc.)
  • Get more people participated to this action (people from other member companies)
  • Networking with people who are interested about this action
  • Spread the word: increasing visibility in different forums and keep the discussions on-going

Let’s see how our meetings proceed on next week and do I have more actions (or refined objectives). If you have some ideas I recommend you to share them! Thank you for reading this post!

Importance of Communication

A while ago I found Lars Kurth’s presentation from Package Owner workshop held in Finland. The presentation itself was very interesting and it has very good points how to get people to participate. As I mentioned previous posts that openness, sharing and collaboration are in major role when “creating environment that permits innovation” Lars has very good points how to enable this around the package.

One thing that came up from Lars’s presentation was importance of communication. There are different aspects where communication is very important. Lars pointed out that package owners must communicate very actively to get community involved around the package. Package owners must be very active communicators and they need to use and follow different communication channels like mailing lists, forums, blogs, wikis, Bugzilla, you name it.

Communication is important when promoting package and getting contribution to it. The same comes with my ambitious task: I must promote this activity in different channels. I write this blog, I have used different forums and wikis. I have not been doing this long time and I can say that getting contributions from others is very big challenge. That’s why I was wondering if Lars’s example would help me in my challenging task. If I follow steps from Lars’s presentation and do the following things:

  1. Be present and responsive: Wiki pages for “Innovative environment and its enablers”, own mailing lists and discussion forum.
  2. Evangelizing about “innovative environment enablers”: Creating “buzz”, this blog and other online medias like Twitter and other social media services.
  3. Actively recruiting contributors: positions open for people who has experience in building innovative communities 🙂

What do you think? Would these actions work also in other areas in open source communities?

That’s all from this time. Happy and collaborative new year 2010!

Cheers!

symbian_speedy_mug

The Community Environment

In the first post I wrote about “environment that permits innovation” and now I will share my thoughts about community environment in Symbian Foundation. What kind of “environment” do we have in Symbian community? Is the current environment supportive, encouraging, friendly, safely or respectful? Do members feel that they are respected and they get support when needed? If not so, their contributions may be appreciated in other open source communities.

Respect

Open source communities are meritocracies and every member wants to build their social status in the community. Same comes with the Symbian Foundation: members are building their creditability in the community and they are contributing different ways. Thanks to Nokia and other big companies who have contributed a lot to Symbian Foundation and making this community possible. They have gained their statuses and respect.

But then we have “foot soldiers” in the community who are contributing error fixes, fix proposals, small things that create Symbian platform better. It seems that they are forgotten or even worse; their contributions are not notified at all. If those foot soldiers does not get feedback, support or nobody encourages them they will use their valuable time elsewhere.

Support

Since Symbian Foundation is quite young open source community members may need more support. Support is needed when starting developing with Symbian, how do I contribute my code to package, how can I get contact to package owner, basic things for those who have been working in open source communities before. It needs also good attitude from community leaders when these questions are raised.

One form of support (and communication) is guidelines that tell for example how contributions are done to some package. I would say that I need guideline for that purposes, I am not sure how to contribute code in some package (of course it would be better if I stay away from code). I have read that it should be easy, but still I am not sure.

Code of Conduct

I have two kids aged under four years and they are sometimes very adorable but most of the time they are little menaces. They need limits and rules how to behave with other kids, in home, in shop, in restaurant and so forth. I think that good open source communities should have also some kind of “code of conduct” that determines community rules and values. In shortly, if you follow these rules the the collaboration in community  will be easier. Good example is Ubuntu’s code of conduct which determines “ground rules” for community way of working.

Well, that was it what I was thinking during this week. You know how to comment and I encourage to that activity. If you do not want to comment publicly you can send e-mail.

Learning Symbian Foundation

My previous blog post was a historical because it received two comments from its readers. Both comments were excellent and I decided to write blog post inspired by them. This is how collaboration works I wrote something and received comments and comments inspired me to write more. So here we go again 🙂

New Form of Collaboration

Symbian Ecosystem has been long time quite closed and everything related to Symbian was very confidential. Everybody who was working with Symbian/S60 code had to write NDAs to get access to source code. NDAs usually limits information changing and now those who have been taught to this model are amazed. What this mean, what open source mean, how this changes the game?

It changes a lot and everybody needs to understand the rules of open source, obey the community rules, start to play with community rules. I think that this is challenge also for those big multi-national corporations, that Slinky mentioned in his/her comment. They must also start to think differently and it takes time, everybody are learning how to play with new “open source rules” in Symbian Foundation.

What comes to “crowdsourcing” and challenges that can be solved by the crowd. It is also new thing in this ecosystem and if Symbian Foundation has same kind of service like InnoCentive. I would say that InnoCentive-kind of model would work also in Symbian Foundation. There are rules how “solvers” are rewarded if they have posted solution to the challenge.My opinion is that InnoCentive won’t be so popular if solvers won’t get paid. But still GOS has a point with time-to-market and “software is ready when it is ready”. I need to think this further 🙂

Attractiveness of Symbian Foundation

GOS mentioned in his/her comment Mozilla and Linux communities where contributors are very enthusiastic about the projects. I agree that Symbian Foundation may not be in that position but I bet that there are people who are enthusiastic about Symbian and they have will to develop it further. But it might be true that there is room for improvement in area of attractiveness of Symbian Foundation.

I bet that there are interesting projects in Symbian Foundation and its packages. The only impediment is that developers may not know where those interesting projects are located. That’s why I am thinking that Package Owners could spread more word, create buzz around package and try to gather contributions to own packages. I have read somewhere that only interesting projects will live in open source world.

Proper Open Source Community

Slinky pointed in his comment that Symbian Foundation is not yet proper open source community. Well, if we compare Symbian Foundation to Linux or Mozilla, they have decade long lead over Symbian Foundation. As mentioned earlier they may had challenges in starting the community and hopefully Symbian Foundation can learn from their mistakes. Symbian was not born in open source community but we can raise Symbian Foundation to well-bred open source community. It will not happen in one year it may take another year too. Fortunately we have those big multi-national companies that supports community and collaborate to make Symbian Foundation even better 🙂

That’s all from this week!

Ideas from Symbian Ideas

 

In the previous post I was writing about openness, collaboration and sharing. I also mentioned ideas.symbian.org, the place where community members can exchange ideas. I looked closer what is going on at ideas.symbian.org and what kind of ideas are there and how they may support in creation of “nimble environment that permits innovation”.

Ideas that Support Collaboration

Sophie Yim has posted idea about Starting and running a Symbian development IRC-channel. The real-time communication with community members would help community members to share ideas, ask questions regarding to software development challenges and not to forget other topics that are related to Symbian Foundation.

Emre Can has posted idea about “crowdsourcing” and how community could give valuable feedback. I think that “crowdsourcing” is good example of collaboration and this idea can be refined forward. We can take wider look to “crowdsourcing” and how Symbian Foundation members can utilize it.

For example some member company has a challenge and they publish challenge to community. Some community members start solving the challenge and after they have solution they submit solution to company who requested help. Company rewards winning solution and they can profit from it. In theory this should be win-win situation where company and solution provider profit.

Ideas that support Openness and Sharing

Ideas.symbian.org itself is good example of openness and sharing. Community members are openly sharing their ideas and hopefully we have momentum to implement the best ideas.

Mike Kinghan has posted idea about build and test results portal where developers can see the status of platform builds and tests. This is example of openness and how community members can access to this data. I am not sure how much this is overlapping with Quality WG’s activities and Quality dashboard they created.

symbian_ideas

This idea have not been posted yet to ideas.symbian.org and it is related to sharing, collaboration and openness. There are currently services like yet2.com, NineSigma and InnoCentive where companies open their product development challenges and utilize talent outside their company borders. They seek solutions from on-line communities, like services listed above.

If companies get solutions from the community they reward the people behind the solution. I was thinking that this would also work in Symbian Foundation where members could seek solutions to their R&D challenges. I must post the idea to ideas.symbian.org and see if it gets support 🙂

 

That’s all from this week, let’s keep in touch!