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Open Source Culture – Splice Machine and Its Community

December 19, 2016
Open Source Culture

When open source originated as a term, it was used to describe a specific approach to create computer software programs. Today the meaning of open source has grown and is used to describe a way people communicate and share ideas. Anything can be open sourced; software, hardware, electronics, digital content, medicine, food, beverages, fashion- even culture.

Splice Machine started building an open source culture long before we open sourced our code. We began by selecting five values we felt would best serve to influence future decision-making and actions; Collaborative, Clever, Scrappy, Accountable and Customer Centric. We then selected platforms and tools to facilitate transparent and fluid communication; Slack, daily standups, weekly updates from the CEO, monthly Town Halls to review OKR progress, quarterly OKR updates and employee net promoter surveys and bi-annual All Hands to review goals and forecasting.

Our open source communication framework allows us to iterate at a much faster rate with greater outcome as we grow. Our values encourage teams to work together with urgency and without fear. Our goal setting and performance tools create transparency that can create occasional discomfort but encourages the tough discussions necessary to overcome obstacles thoughtfully and quickly.

When Splice Machine decided to open source our code and launch a community, several members across different teams were involved in the planning process. Our five core values influenced our decision making. Key decisions were discussed with everyone within the company and feedback was solicited before the launch.
Splice Machine’s community culture has little to do with what test suite, code standards, or release expectations to use. Instead, we focus on the open source community experience. It begins by welcoming new members and making it easy for them to use our product, responding quickly to questions and sharing resources. Our goal is to attract developers to join, contribute and innovate in Splice Machine’s community. We believe our responsibility to the community is the same shared responsibility we have to each Splice Machine employee; to provide a transparent and supportive environment to facilitate productivity and inspiration. We treat Splice Machine’s community as an extension of our company.

Curiosity, learning and action propels our open source culture to attract new membership and inspire innovation. Since our community launch, we’ve challenged each member of Splice Machine to find ways they can participate in our community, starting with the following:

  • Recruiting people who believe in the importance of open sourcing knowledge.
  • Hosting internal and public events to share ideas and trends in technology and innovation.
  • Owning at least one individual goal, OKR and performance metric that is focused on growing community.
  • Consciously adopting open source behaviors into day to day operation.
  • Spending time in Splice Machine’s community as well as supporting other communities including Apache HBase and Apache Spark.

Does your company have an open source culture? What have you implemented in your company or community that has made a difference?
Please share your experiences!