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Fostering Collaboration In Open Source Communities | ben van ‘t ende – Alliander


Guest: ben van ‘t ende (LinkedIn)
Organization/Company: LF Energy (Twitter) | Alliander (Twitter)
Show: State of Energy

While many people will think of open source in terms of the code they are developing and contributing, there are a multitude of other aspects that contribute to the effectiveness of open source communities. Fostering community and collaboration are key and the role of Community Manager plays a pivotal role in facilitating the social connections and helping to break down very big goals into the small steps of a project.

In this episode of State of Energy, ben van ‘t ende, Community Manager at Alliander while at the Open Source Summit (OSS) in Bilbao, Spain, talks about the role of a community manager in helping companies embrace open source and managing communities. He discusses some of the key challenges open source communities are facing and how community managers are helping to solve them.

Key highlights from this video interview:

  • Van ‘t ende talks about the open source movement and his experience as a Community Manager for a grassroots project for many years. He highlights the importance of aligning the people in the projects and how Alliander’s approach is different since they are working with companies in the community.
  • The journey for companies to really embrace open source and to be a part of the community is a significant one and van ‘t ende talks about how company culture comes into play. He also talks about how Alliander being a partially-owned government company has made them more receptive toward open source and its possibilities.
  • Since Alliander is partially government owned, you can see a more organic growth from the community. Van ‘t ende discusses the differences in company mentality and how that aligns with open source collaboration and commercial goals.
  • Van ‘t ende talks us through some of the challenges of managing communities, such as finding connecting points within them. However, he feels that there are an abundance of opportunities for collaboration, which is why he feels it is pivotal to have a community manager.
  • Van ‘t ende explains the role of community manager and how it aims to create a safe space for people to be able to communicate. He talks about the importance of facilitating social connections and refocusing on the community aspect.
  • Open source is just as much about the community and collaboration as it is about the technology. Van ‘t ende feels that with organizations like LF Energy, it is very much about having the greater goal in sight.
  • From a community manager perspective, Van ‘t ende tells us that they do discuss the broader topics, although these are not typically addressed in team meetings themselves. He talks about how community building ties in with companies’ long-term goals.
  • Van ‘t ende discusses his role as a facilitator and how he helps teams break down considerably big goals into small steps in a project, and celebrates the small achievements along the way.
  • Van ‘t ende talks about the cultural aspect of dealing internally with new developers compared to more experienced ones, He discusses the importance of listening to what the developer’s needs are to help facilitate the collaboration.
  • Open source code is sometimes seen as the easiest part of the community, since there are so many aspects involved in the process. Van ‘t ende explains how the community manager role comes into play in helping to bring together all these different aspects of open source.
  • Van ‘t ende discusses the larger LF Energy picture and the opportunities within the organization’s projects to cooperate in the different sections.

This summary was written by Emily Nicholls.