Posted tagged ‘Jimmy Wales’

We Want Collaborative Criticism

November 20, 2008

I recently read an excellent dialogue on WSJ.com 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!

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