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.

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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!

Symbian Foundation: Creating Nimble Environment That Permits Innovation

Introduction

My name is Petri Poikolainen and I am currently working in Finnish information and community technology company called Digia. My work relates closely to Symbian development and I am currently Digia’s representative in Symbian Foundation’s Release Council. If you like to hear more about Digia or my work in Release Council you can find my contact information from the About the Blogger section.

“Create Nimble Environment that Permits Innovation…”

…is the name of the task that I volunteered in the last Release Council Workshop in London. The workshop topic was “How will Symbian OSS change the way mobile phones are delivered in the future?” and almost all release council members were present. We had great time finding out the most important topics which were: Innovation, Cost & Speed, Biz Models, Visibility and Collaboration. Under the most important topics we defined (almost) concrete actions that are implemented by the community members.

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So, why am I writing this blog article? I am writing this because the action, that I volunteered, is so broad and I cannot implemented it by myself. I need all help that is available and I try to inspire other community members to think what innovative environment in Symbian Foundation means for different stakeholders? I would like to hear opinions and views from different stakeholders: developers, package owners, member companies, council members, code contributors and so forth. All comments and ideas are welcome, they are contributions to Symbian Foundation community 🙂

If everything goes like in the movies we will have lots of good ideas which narrow the broad scope. We will identify the most important factors that creates nimble environment for innovation. After this we might be ready to create more concrete actions that are related e.g. to tools that enables innovation, methods or processes, the best practices and so forth.

What Enables Innovative environment?

I like to share my opinions about innovative environment enablers. I think that the most important enablers are openness, collaboration and sharing. I am sure that there are more important enablers and if you notice that something is missing, please collaborate and share your opinion with others 🙂

Openness, Collaboration and Sharing

Symbian Foundation has been acting openly since its beginning and this is a right track. How we can act openly by ourselves in Symbian Foundation? If we start to work openly in community it would help to boost up innovation and every member can tap the innovation potential of the community. Ideas.symbian.org is good example from openness from ideas point of view. Somebody shares idea and if the idea is interesting it gets comments and the original idea may get even better.

Innovation does not usually happen by single person sitting on the coach watching the famous sitcom (good ideas may arouse during watching the TV :). My belief is that innovation happens when collaborate and share ideas, comments, views, solution proposals. The collaboration is also one key for successful community. If we don’t collaborate and we trust only on heroic efforts of individuals it won’t last forever.symbian_idea_toaster

Without sharing we cannot create environment that permits innovation. Everybody must share something: views, opinions, ideas, comments, code and so forth. Sharing builds the community spirit, accelerate discovery, spur the innovation in the community. You are what you share.

All members can benefit if start to build “nimble environment that permits innovation”. Developers can share their ideas and ask help for certain coding challenges, they can help others who are struggling with the development. Member companies can tap the innovativeness of community in their own R&D activities: there are always talented people outside the company borders. Package owners can direct the community being open and collaborate with community inspiring them to contribute for the common good.

What next?

As said earlier this is very broad topic and I need your help to understand what “nimble environment that permits innovation” means to different stakeholders: developers, package owners, member companies, council members, platform contributors and device creators? I have opened discussion thread in Symbian Foundation Forum where we can discuss more about this topic. Of course you can comment this blog post directly and share comments immediately. I will use comments and discussions to narrow the scope and try to find the most important things that are refined forward. I believe that in some point we will have concrete and doable actions which drive the Symbian Foundation community to more innovative community.

Thank you for reading this post!

Further Reading:

  1. Wikinomics – How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott & Anhtony D. Williams
  2. We-think: Mass Innovation, Not mass production by Charles Leadbeater