What Business Can Learn from Open Source

What Business Can Learn from Open Source by Paul Graham

As usual Paul Graham’s new article is a great read.

I think the most important of the new principles business has to learn is that people work a lot harder on stuff they like. Well, that’s news to no one. So how can I claim business has to learn it? When I say business doesn’t know this, I mean the structure of business doesn’t reflect it.

When I’m writing or hacking I spend as much time just thinking as I do actually typing. Half the time I’m sitting drinking a cup of tea, or walking around the neighborhood. This is a critical phase– this is where ideas come from– and yet I’d feel guilty doing this in most offices, with everyone else looking busy.

How many of us have heard stories of employees going to management and saying, please let us build this thing to make money for you– and the company saying no? The most famous example is probably Steve Wozniak, who originally wanted to build microcomputers for his then-employer, HP. And they turned him down. On the blunderometer, this episode ranks with IBM accepting a non-exclusive license for DOS.

On the point of the first bit of text above, W. Edwards Deming stressed the importance of Joy in Work. How many buisnesses focus on this. Very few. So often, it is easier to keep doing what has been done in the past.

5 thoughts on “What Business Can Learn from Open Source

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  4. Ryan

    Very brief, but very to the point. In my own work environment I’ve found this exact same situation time and time again. Employees want to do a good job, but far too many businesses would rather stifle their creativity and suck all the joy out of their work to the point where doing a good job seems more like an obligation than something you’d want to do.

    Reply
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