Posted tagged ‘community’

Tanzanian rats sniff out mines (and they use Orange Leap as their CRM solution!)

November 8, 2010

A project in Tanzania is teaching rats how to save human lives. Blessed with a keen sense of smell, they are being trained to detect land mines and have so far helped clear nearly two million squared… Find Out More

Open Source Project: How to be a good partner with an open source software project.

June 8, 2010

A big challenge to the success of an Open Source Software project is creating and maintaining a strong community. It is vital to have strong and dedicated partnerships and have symbiotic relationships to ensure mutual success. So what exactly are good partners and how do you can we become one?

Good partners solve problems instead of asking for solutions. An important aspect to participating in an open source project is recognizing that it is a partnership and not a customer/vendor relationship. This means that you take initiative in overcoming any challenges you come up against by utilizing all of the resources that the open source community provides before engaging the developers directly. At Orange Leap this means becoming familiar with our Knowledge Base, forums, and partnerships first, and hopefully finding solutions on your own. Often, community members have come up against the same challenges that you are facing and will help to resolve the issue. In the short term this is an adjustment for many newcomers, but in the long run it is empowering to be able to successfully navigate your way through problem solving. This brings us to the next point. Contributing to the community.

Sharing and making contributions to the community. In the event that you have successfully solved a problem, it is important that you contribute your information to the rest of the community. This is vital for the long term success of the community and in turn, the overall success of the Open Source initiative. Firefox is a great example of a successful community that has provided an incredible level of success in software design and implementation because of the community participation. Helping others to be successful is the key to open source success. Here is an example of how Orange Leap contributed to Spring.

Engage other members of the community, and community resources to help and encourage others to solve problems. A good way to gauge whether you are a strong community member is to look at how much you have contributed to the community. Do you log into the forums and look for problems to solve or do you only log in with problems that you need solved? This type of proactive participation is vital for the long term growth and success of a project. Here is an example of how Orange Leap contributed to Jasper.

Sharing information with the community by providing solutions, customizations, and contributions to help others overcome their challenges and obstacles. This is a key ingredient. At Orange Leap, we share our source code and software for our mutual success. We try and provide resources so that non profits are no longer held hostage to software licensing fees and minimal customizations. We are interested in being a good partner and in turn we ask the same from our partners. If you come up with a great customization it is vital that you provide your solution to the community so that all can benefit. In this free and open model, it is important to contribute to the overall success of everyone.

A good partner recognizes and honors the partnership and strives to make contributions to the community to ensure mutual success. It is a core value of Open Source Projects to give back to the community, which is also a core value to the non profit world we all choose to be a part of.

We Want Collaborative Criticism

November 20, 2008

I recently read an excellent dialogue on between the founder of Wikipedia and the editor-in-chief of Encyclopedia Britannica. It was a good exchange and one in which both sides made valid points. Jimmy Wales, the founder of  Wikipedia, made a point that resonated particularly deeply for me: “We are open and transparent and eager to help people find criticisms of us. Disconcerting and unusual, I know. But, well, welcome to the Internet.” 

This is the heart of the new paradigm, not just on the Internet, but in technology, business, politics and more. No product, movement or idea of any consequence has ever been beyond criticism and, as a result, improvement.  There is no such thing as perfection, especially when it comes to software and technology.  

That is why my ethos and the culture I am thrilled to be a part of at Orange Leap is one that mimicks Mr. Wales. We are open and transparent and eager to listen to criticisms of us and our products. Disconcerting and unusual, I know. But, well, welcome to…open source.

Open source is founded on the belief that criticism, transparency and collaboration is not only constructive but essential to produce the best possible technology. The user eOrange Leapment and freedom that comes through community and open access to products and their underlying source code makes the products better and organizations more effective. Most companies I have worked with under closed, proprietary models invested huge amounts of energy in deflecting, distilling and drowning criticisms of the company or the product. Our goal is to invest that same energy into listening and jointly improving weaknesses and meeting needs. 

I learned the term ‘constructive criticism’ in grade school. I have attempted to live by it in my adult life. Personal improvements come from listening, responding to and working on those things others point out. For some reason, most software companies have never understood that. From talking to their marketing people or sales reps, you’d think their software was saving the world and flooding organizations with money, constituents and results simply by using it. If an individual talked that way, I think the appropriate designation is pathological narcissism.

So, please, criticize away. We need it. It makes the software better. But remember, we are open source. So, if you find a problem and have a good way to fix it, we are eOrange Leaping you to do just that. Think you can do it better? We’re counting on it!

Community First

October 21, 2008


Matt McCabe, VP of Community

Matt McCabe, VP of Community

I am so excited about our announcement today that Matt McCabe is joining Orange Leap as Vice President of Community. This is all about the ethos at Orange Leap that puts community first. Always.

Noticing Matt’s last name, you may be wondering if we are related. Matt is my brother and, naturally, I am thrilled about getting to work together. But, I am even more excited by Matt’s “journey” and resulting vision for community that he has as a result of his years working with nonprofits here in the US, the UK and elsewhere around the world.

Having both grown up in the nonprofit community–our father has been working with nonprofits on marketing, fundraising, management and more for nearly 35 years, we have both spent most of our careers working in and around the nonprofit sector. However, we have taken very different paths on our respective journeys, rarely getting to collaborate directly.

Over the last 12 months, though, our conversations about the market and what organizations need truly began to resonate around two common themes:

  1. Nonprofits need better technology with greater flexibility, more choice and lower costs. This is why Orange Leap is open source.
  2. Technology is a powerful tool, but users require support, training, expertise and strategy to be effective and derive strong results. From implementation to business processes to best practices, there is a wealth of information, knowledge and technology widgets out there dispersed across nonprofits and the organizations that serve them. No single company or small coalition of service providers can meet all of these needs effectively. That is why Orange Leap is the platform committed to building community across nonprofits. This is why community will always come first.

I encourage you to connect with Matt to hear his vision and where it came from in more detail. He has consulted for the largest and most well-known organizations in the world. But he has also consulted with nonprofits with less than $250,000 in annual revenue. Whether working with groups large or small, Matt has seen the need for community, and his passion has both influenced me personally and also led him to Orange Leap professionally.

With the addition of Matt, I am more confident than ever that we have the best leadership team in the industry. Beyond each of our company leaders proven expertise and innovation in their fields — whether it is Leo who has been developing and deploying open source solutions for leading companies for more than 20 years or Bryan who has implemented collaborative, value oriented software distribution models for top software companies, we have a leadership team that has not only talked about putting nonprofits’ needs first, but has a consistent record of operating that way.

So, please join me in welcoming Matt. He welcomes input from anyone with any interest in or advice about building  community, to email him at matt dot mccabe at Orange Leapopen dot com. In building community, we will partner with nonprofits and those who serve them. Community first!

Economic Crisis Makes Open Source Clear Choice

October 20, 2008

I have noticed recently that the pundits are aptly noting the growing importance of open source software. With the economic crisis, everyone is looking to cut costs and they will naturally look toward open source.

A great article in Express Computer relates that “Gartner predicts that by 2010 it will account for 20% of the global software market.” Open source is growing and, while the article outlines a number of reasons, I think Santosh Dsouza, Chief Technologist, Sun Microsystems, sums it up best, “There are a number of features in a product that only a few customers demand. It is not feasible for software vendors to spend time working on such features. In case of open source, the community contribution helps bridge this gap. This not only gives a customer more insight into the product but also helps in increasing the product quality as quality issues can be more proactively addressed and comprehensive testing can be done.” As software vendors have to tighten their belts (especially those that are publicly traded or trying to go public), you can bet they will have to cut back on staff and will not be able to maintain product velocity.

This is exactly why our ethos at Orange Leap is community first. Let’s leverage technology and expertise across nonprofits so you don’t have to rely on us for everything. That way we can focus on the core product (product governance) rather than a bunch of customizations that distract us, which is what takes up significant amounts of most software vendors’ time.

In CIO, JT Smith recently did an excellent analysis of why open source will expand even more rapidly due to the economic crisis. Basically, there is an open source solution that is as good or better than proprietary solutions for almost everything you do.  As Smith ends the piece, “Open source applications don’t have one thing that their closed-source brethren have: licensing fees. Certainly you’ll still have support, deployment, and possibly hosting costs; but you have those costs with closed source software as well. The difference is that you’ll save the money you would have put toward licensing fees and now you have that to put toward implementation and support costs.”

I truly think moving toward open source makes great sense for so many organizations right now because of cost and flexibility. Some have asked me if it makes sense for smaller organizations without much or any IT staff. I say absolutely. Open source can be hosted and on-demand so you have no infrastructure issues (albeit some additional cost, but much less than hiring IT professionals). And even if an organization never reads or writes a line of code, they benefit. They benefit from the community fixing bugs and adding features, and they benefit from a better quality product since we remain focused on the core product. They can even become integral participants in the community through user tips, answering questions and getting top quality fundraising advice. 

But more on the community aspects soon. We are about to make some exciting announcements regarding the future of the Orange Leap Community.

Open-Source: Beyond Just Software

September 11, 2008

I just finished reading a fascinating article on how the open-source model is providing inspiration for problem solving and information sharing in business, politics and the military. The article begins with explaining the Pentagon’s open call for help to address key strategic problems, from China’s military to al-Qaida, with a promise to share the results publicly.

These open, collaborative models are taking shape across sectors: scientific, commercial, academic, athletic, aerospace and more. This is rooted in the open-source software model and illustrates something I firmly believe. Open source is not just a software model, it is a way of operating through collaboration and transparency that can have transformative effects on any organization or endeavor.

Over the years, I have seen two things time and again at the organizations I have worked with:

  1. Too often nonprofits work independently – investing significant resources and energy – to solve problems and address challenges common to many organizations. However, the sharing of learnings and solutions with one another is sporadic and inefficient. This leads to significant duplication of effort and regularly ‘reinventing the wheel’.
  2. Every organization has at least a few unique needs that require some degree – even if minor – of customization. A static, one-size-fits-all approach would not be effective (although for years both the nonprofit and commercial sectors have accepted this approach and its restrictions from software vendors). However, these unique needs often inspire creative innovations that can be applied across and benefit many organizations.

What drew me to the open source model is that it presents a simple, elegant way to overcome these challenges. Community collaboration allows you to leverage the effort and expertise of others, while openness and control give you the ability to tweak things to fit your particular needs. While open source software is the tool and a beginning, this is more that just a type of software. It is a disruptive way of thinking about and approaching both business and life that will have an impact on just about everything we do. From technology to tennis courts, the open source model is changing the world for the better.