Open Source at Adobe — Driving Organization Change

As anyone that has started a new initiative knows — driving organizational change is hard. At Adobe, we know that the culture of openness has to start with us.

Now that we’ve set up the foundations necessary to centralize and expand Open Source across Adobe, we need to reach out across Adobe to start activating. This includes aligning all things Open Source at Adobe, communicating with and educating our employees and leveraging the already existing Open Source expertise from current Open Source contributors and maintainers. Here are some things we’ve found helpful:

Centralize Communication

Getting everyone rowing in the same direction is impossible if no one knows where you’re rowing and how they can help row. Or even where to find a paddle. Okay enough with the rowing analogy.

To keep everyone in the loop we created an internal mailing list for everyone interested in Open Source at Adobe. We also created one for our Developer Advisory Board so any issues or feedback requests would be top of mind (err top of their inboxes) so they could weigh in. We also created an internal mailing list for the Adobe Open Source Office so anyone looking for help/resources/etc. would only have to remember one email.

Identify Mavens

Okay, this one is big. What better way to educate and encourage others to participate in Open Source than through developers that have been there done that? So we started digging. We recruited top contributors and long-time community managers to help out. I cannot thank these incredible people enough for their work. And let me tell you, we’ve put them to work! We’ve had these mavens share their experiences and best practices in every way possible, videos, blog posts, talks, slide decks, mentoring others, and the list goes on and on. This is my biggest piece of advice: find your Open Source experts and leverage their experience and knowledge. And reward them! And always say thank you :)

Bring People Together

One thing we’ve done that’s been incredibly effective is hosting an annual Summit for all things Open Source. We hosted our first in the US last Fall and just wrapped up the Adobe Open Source Summit EU 2017 held in Basel, Switzerland. For now, these events are internal only. We’re hoping to expand these to larger external events in the future.

The goal for the event was to bring together as many developers from across our European offices that were currently contributing to or interested in Open Source. We had over 70 attendees and hosted the event over 1.5 days.

Our goal for the first day was networking with a quick keynote talk and a mixer at night. Like we’ve said in the past, there are so many successful areas of Open Source at Adobe, but often in isolation. When we get these developers together, the conversation goes something like this, “You do Open Source? I do Open Source” and just that alone has been incredibly helpful. We’ve seen this facilitate teams working more closely together on projects, developers helping other developers not on their team and sharing experiences and best of all, creating consensus on what things they’d like to see from the Open Source Office.

The next day was the conference. We started the day announcing the Open Source Office and educating the audience on what resources are available to them and how to reach us (again, going back to centralizing communication). We walked through the new Open Source project submission process as well so we could start to get feedback on what is working and what needs to be improved. We then had 5 lightning talks (2o minutes) from Open Source experts from across the organization and one external keynote by Isabel Drost-Fromm. Here are links to the slide decks *we had to omit one presentation as the product being discussed has not been made public yet:

We then gave our “Top Open Source Contributor” awards out. Congrats to the recipients! One thing we’d love to see is a formalized recognition program for Open Source at Adobe. Anyone willing to share what’s worked at their company? Please comment :)

We wrapped up with an “Ask the Experts” Q&A session and another Developer Advisory Board meeting. We have found these sessions to be GOLD! Just giving our developers a platform to talk about struggles, suggestions, wish list items, etc. Going through that feedback and boiling it up to 3–4 action items is next up for the Adobe Open Source Office.