Introducing OCA: something new for something old

In this post I’ll introduce you to the consultancy I founded, Open Community Architects (OCA), share why I think there is a need and fit in the ecosystem, and give an overview of what we can do for you.

The consultancy I’ve been waiting for

For more than a decade I’ve been saying the Open Source ecosystem needs a full-lifecycle professional services firm that can do both strategy and execution for organizations and institutions of any size.

A consultancy with a narrow mission to create, assess, and execute community plans. A firm focused entirely on the client organization’s efforts to obtain a greater value and/or return when following an Open pathway for work and output. An advocate refusing to wave hands over the challenges of caretaking and stewarding a community of contributors.

In many ways, Open Community Architects has a classic consulting mindset — our goal in serving clients is to provide unbiased advice built on deeply informed opinions. We have no agenda beyond your agenda and helping you with your decisions, including recommending not to pursue an Open Source solution when it is the wrong choice.

In advocating for Open practices, we recognize they cannot and should not be used for every situation. Open is not a panacea. Rather, it is a mindset and well-honed set of practices proven to help people collaborate across organizational, institutional, and national barriers.

Open Source is a means to an end, not an end in itself. For businesses, and other public and private organizations and institutions, the nature of the organization’s structure is to contain and protect itself from harm by other groups. If you have been involved in negotiations for a formal relationship between two entities, you know how much of a barrier those protections can be to even getting starting on building something together.

Open Source on the other hand has obtained a status as the best way to collaborate beyond your organizational walls (and sometimes even within those walls), because the license and the community practices take care of the nitty-gritty details of “can I/may I”. Once your organization understands how to manage the risk of using or participating in one Open Source project, they can iterate on that understanding when entering other Open Source projects.

This is something very effective for persons or teams creating solutions for the organization. They know special permission isn’t needed beyond participation guidelines that come down to core protections for the organization and it’s people, such as, “Is the project using one or more of these approved licenses? Does it have a governance and a Code of Conduct?”

Whether your team are highly experienced Open Source participants or complete newcomers, most likely you have gaps in your community plan that create risks and reduce opportunities for reward. It is more likely you have gaps in understanding across your organization about the why and how of your Open Source strategy, introducing costly and potentially existential risks.

OCA can assess, consult on your strategy, and help you take steps to create a sustainable relationship with Open Source and the future of Open across all fields and domains.

Our end goal is to make your organization self-sufficient participants in the Open Source ecosystem.

from the OCA method

How OCA helps you

In order for OCA to service such a broad range of client needs, we are building and drawing upon a field of experts. Our goal is to propose a specific team, showing how their backgrounds provide needed value to the situation. So an engagement might look like this:

  1. A managing consultant such as myself begins and maintains the relationship. In this role, I meet with your principle staff, understand the project scope, and deliver a community assessment and plan addressed to the needed level.
  2. To execute on that plan, we are either enabling your existing staff to do the work while we consult, or we provide experts to do the work and/or work while co-training your staff for a period of time. Our end goal is to make your organization self-sufficient participants in the Open Source ecosystem.
  3. Individuals provided by OCA to fulfill parts of the plan are drawn from individual consultants added to the proposal for your consideration. Once a consultant joins an engagement, OCA seeks to ensure the long-term happiness of both the client and the consultant. This includes erecting minimal barriers should the consultant wish to join the client organization later in the project or at OCA’s conclusion of involvement.

Yes, seriously — if it’s the best way to help your organization participate in the Open Source ecosystem over the long term, we’re happy to let you hire away the people who have been helping you through this transformation.

About OCA’s founder

Hello, if you don’t know me/of me, my name is Karsten Wade, and my nickname on the internet is ‘quaid’. My focus on people, principles, and practices in Open Collaborations has exposed me to a very, very broad range of consultative and service-oriented roles and tasks even long after I left Red Hat’s professional services consulting organization. You can read more on my bio page. Between my personal network coming out of VA Linux into Red Hat, and the way my roles at Red Hat have let me go right to the center of various Open Source efforts, I have been consulting on community plans inside and outside of my organization for almost 20 years. Through vicarious understanding and being the one who wrote and maintains the Open Source Way, I learned lessons about organizations and institutions of all sizes directly from a few thousand colleagues over the years.

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