Open source and keeping talent
Thursday, December 15, 2011 7:02:31 PM
The quote that got me interested (enough to follow the link and read the rest) was
In order to keep a killer developer happy, you have to help them become more attractive to other employers. But that’s ok, because that’s exactly the kind of developer you want to have working for you. So relax and let them work on open source or they’ll go somewhere else where they can.
The Open source bit, in general, which said a lot of the sensible things people always say, without most of the wishful thinking people add far too often. And it said in particular that you should code like you are going to make it Open Source - because the idea that other people will look at your code brings a discipline that is good for it. Too true (and likely to be one reason why my own open source projects don't tend to get a lot of traction, apart from being pretty obscure to start with).
But the part that really interested me was the approach to keeping developers. Which is that you should make them attractive to other people, by investing in them and in their ability to show that as easily as they like. Actually, open source projects are only one way to do it (in my tiny corner of the universe the equivalent is people who participate in making standards, which is not the same but not entirely different either).
It's the flip side of something I have believed for a while, which is that the more people deliberately make themselves indispensable by failing to share knowledge the faster you should dispense with them. It's the people who make themselves redundant really fast, twice in a row, who are the ones you really want to keep - because they probably have the attitude and ability to keep doing that, and it is actually hard. And they are probably not quite redundant really. The fact they can do that quickly is even harder to replicate than the attitude.