Before I joined the Symbian Foundation, I was working on improvement programme for Nokia. During that time, I learned and observed the impact of change in people.
Theory says that a person normally goes through 4 stages/moods before it fully embraces the change. The first two stages consist of denial: either that the change exist all together or that, even when we accept its existence, it is going to impact us at all. This is also true of communities migrating from a close to an open source model.
While, technical changes are easier to accept, the hardest challange remains in encouraging ‘once upon a time’ customers to now be equally responsible for the development of the platform and reminding suppliers that are no longer bound by SLAs, only by common sense.
In a way, that is probably why open source projects with one major member contributor and many users, that limit their collaboration to minor updates, seem easier to accept (maybe because they feel more familiar). However, what are we really trying to achieve by going open source? Will this really unleash platform innovation?
The next stage to denial is exploration. When you start asking yourself what opportunities I can seize if I jump deep into this change. Is it possible that by investing some resources into improving the Symbian Platform I can open up larger opportunities for me and my company?
Start planning what contributions you need to make in order to enable your business model. You can not assume that someone else is going to do it for you, as everyone scratches their own “itch”. You can hope that you will find common ground with other contributors, allowing you to share the “scratching” cost. Recognising the advantage to the community of coordinating “scratching” efforts, the Symbian Foundation has set-up a centralise Release Management and Planning function. We are a growing team of 4, currently working towards building delivery plans for Symbian^2 and Symbian^3.
I guess the last stage is when the change feels so natural that you can not even imagine how you use to survive doing things the “old” way.