InnerSource Summit

November 14, 2015 opensource 2 min read

We just wrapped up the first InnerSource Summit, hosted by PayPal. From the website:

Companies today already understand that Open Source is necessary.

Less is understood about how to effectively use Open Source principles on internal development. This is the challenge that InnerSource seeks to addresses.

The goal of the summit was to share case studies and start the discussion around creating a pattern language for applying open source principles in other contexts. The thinking is that open source is not a recipe, but a set of tools and patterns that can be applied in unique ways for each organization.

The biggest theme I took away from the case studies is that companies are using open source as a vehicle to change their company culture, and culture goes hand-in-hand with tools. There is debate about whether you change culture or tools first, but it’s clear that they are related. The two most commonly cited tools were GitHub (meaning: distributed version control and collaborative code review) and continuous integration; both tools that we’ve come to take for granted in the open source world.

One of my favorite quotes from the event came when someone asked how you convince developers to change:

“Developers are logical people. If you give them a good car, they will drive it. If you give them a terrible car, they will find other ways to get where they want to go.”

As more companies wrestle with what it means to work like an open source project, I look forward to continuing this conversation. Check out O’Reilly’s free ebook on Getting Started with InnerSource, which gives a brief introduction to PayPal’s recent InnerSource efforts. At 18 pages, it is worth a read.

Oh, I also learned to juggle from a legitimate clown.

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avatar of Brandon Keepers I am Brandon Keepers, and I work at GitHub on making Open Source more approachable, effective, and ubiquitous. I tend to think like an engineer, work like an artist, dream like an astronaut, love like a human, and sleep like a baby.