Friday, November 14, 2008

Taking productivity lessons from open source

Even if your organization doesn’t produce software or work with open source development, you can still take some lessons from open source communities — in particular, how to get work done with fewer meetings and less real-time.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols covers some of the things that outsourcing companies can learn from open source, but this really applies to any organization — whether it has remote locations or not. But they’re particularly useful for organizations with a distributed workforce with non-English speakers. In particular:

* Don’t have a meeting when an email will do. Coordinating schedules is an often unnecessary headache when an email exchange would provide the same information.
* Any method with an “audit trail” is better than a phone call or face to face meeting for those who may need to catch up later. (It’s also far better for remembering who has what action items, and what has been decided.”
* As Vaughan-Nichols writes, “E-mail and Web communication make it far easier for a non-English speaker to read or translate e-mail and Web text than to understand several English speakers chatting on the phone.” (Frankly, this is also true when all of the participants are English speakers, too. Trying to understand five people on a conference call, with several huddled around a speaker-phone, is usually less than pleasant even if they are all speaking the same language…)

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