Community Leadership Summit Wiki

What are the unwritten rules of your culture?[]

Why does dysfunction exist?[]

  • "The problem isn't the problem, it's the solution" - i.e. everything that is dysfunctional from one perspective probably serves some useful purpose to someone else.  If it was truly harmful to everyone, it would go away.  Concrete example: who benefits from dumping data stores into disorganized, inaccessible places?  Well, it benefits the people who then don't have to worry about managing it better.

How do you initiate change in your culture?[]

  • Identify a target for buy-in and promote it
  • 1st: define its current state (Make sure you are inviting discussion of the culture, not just stating your own perspective)
  • After you identify problems, what next?
  • To make changes in a culture, you have to understand the incentive structure.
  • How do you overcome entrenchment?
  • Three responses to dysfunction: 1) Loyal response - go along  2) voice - "everybody else should change" 3) Exit
  • Sometimes communities are too dysfunctional to continue, and it is better if they disband (not always possible: e.g. "Berkeley just isn't working any more")
  • Leading by example
  • Use the "first follower" principal.  Inititate the change, but then find someone else to join the same cause.  Invest in first followers (have tasks for them to do)
  • Trust agents vs. charisma agents  (Trust agent == has a following, credibility) (Charisma agent == )
  • Be open and receptive to challenges to your proposed changes.  You may not have it right from other peoples' perspectives.
  • Intentionally polarize an issue / call out the negative consequences of not making a change (i.e. if we don't conform to this slide submission deadline, we'll give presentations with mistakes)
  • Take "divide and conquer" approach
  • For sensitive / controversial issues use face-to-face contact or video conferencing rather than email
  • Identify the various entities in the community, and what their needs are (e.g. end-users may like simple interfaces, whereas developers prefer the slightly higher privacy offered by a mailing list)
  • Find somebody else to drive the change, to figure out the "how"
  • Just like there are two ways to increase profits - increasing revenue, or decreasing cost - there are two ways a cultural change can be a net win for someone: by giving them some benefit, or taking away some hindrance
  • "Cultural experiments": create a small environment where a cultural change can be tested out ("skunkworks").

Why do cultures Resist change?[]

Sometimes cultural decisions are really in the hands of a few "core" people (e.g. the majority of active /interested participants may dislike mailing lists, but if a few key people like them, that remains the standard.)

Specific Examples[]

  • In science, it is not typical for people to curate data using tools like git/github.  It is hard to get someone to go along with that just by talking to them.  It is much more effective to tie that behavior to the incentive of getting funding, publication, etc.


  • Book: "Fearless Change"

Additional notes to be added

What are the three unwritten rules of your culture

You have to shoot down good ideas if you didn't come up with it
No marketing speak
Maintain tradition at any cost
Protect community privacy at all cost
Remixing the culture
Change behaviour not culture first
No matter how great your dev...
People like to be right

How do you start make a change in your culture

First you need buy in, feasible , need that end state
First might be acknowledge the current state of the culture
Name the culture is an understanding
Understand what you are dealing with
Define terms -where you started and not just where you want to go
How often do you think about the air and what is means to you
Fearless change -book recommendation
Too big - how to manage

Sometimes communities need to die, sometimes cultures are winding down
What is the incentive structure to get through the habits to change

responses to dysfunction
1. Loyalty
2. Voice - some or everything
3. Exit
4. Ignore
5. Take a break

Lead by a sustainable to make the change

What's in it for me, build pathways to help their point of view
Trojan horse?

Map it out, who they are, needs.
Trust agents and charisma agents are different

Why does the dysfunction exist for
The problem isn't the problem it is the solution
Benefits someone so it exists , meet need but make it so their solution isn't as dysfunctional
-what is it fixing

What assumptions are you making
Ch-ck ego at door, be willing to have your ideas challenged
Buyin doesn't take into account time and level of commitment
Use bad examples to highlight opportunities for change
Benevolent manipulation -heard and validated
Personifying the straw man

Use voice and video with the human , text might not be best

Some cultures in OS
Some prefer mailing lists, others want q&a
It might create a barrier to entry for new folks
-different  types of people like different types of comma tools
-what are the different entities in your culture
-mirror tools
-get on the phone
-find the resistors and figure out how to get to a goal to help get to the goal
-how much time spent convincing...assess
-divide and conquer -
-what are the incremental steps needed, build coalitions and alliances
-what pain am I going to avoid to make it possible
-benefit vs inconvenience

-what do you want to get from organization
-private companies sometimes do skunkworks -small groups, create the experiment , change org by showing progress with magnets
Make it seem like it was their idea