Thoughts on open source and open collaboration from the Greater Boston Research Interest Group (RIG)
There’s been a lot of emphasis placed on collaboration in the workplace. And while it’s easy to add collaboration to the ever-growing list of important company-wide objectives, implementing it requires a more structured plan and a clear understanding of current employee workflows. When leaders try to establish the reasons why collaboration has not taken hold, more often than not they find that it relates to organization structure and how information sharing is prioritized.
“Red Hat is an open source company, and our decentralized culture encourages open collaboration, not only internally, but with upstream communities too.”
Red Hat is an open source company, and our decentralized culture encourages open collaboration, not only internally, but with upstream communities too. It is this open culture that has contributed to our success as an organization. Within the research team, we encourage collaboration through Research Interest Groups (RIGs). The goal of each RIG is to foster research that aligns with Red Hat’s technical direction and open source mission. Through the RIGs, researchers at our partner universities work collaboratively with Red Hat teams and seek opportunities for conducting innovative research on specific technology topics. Some of the topics we are currently exploring together include operating systems, machine learning and automation, and cloud computing services.
Nonetheless, RIGs are not just about adding more people. There is certainly an art to this collaboration. The Boston RIG, for example, has attracted participation from professors, engineers, PhD candidates, interns, marketers, and patent lawyers. This integration of varied perspectives creates that sweet spot for taking conventional ideas and applying them to interesting problems in a novel way to produce groundbreaking solutions.
The Greater Boston RIG has also been able to take advantage of partnerships with universities in the area to tap into an excellent talent pool of potential hires for engineering and other technology roles. During the course of this summer, we worked with 140 interns who all got an opportunity to share their project ideas in the form of lightning talks. These ten-minute sessions were meant to share the essence of an idea and get more managers and engineers involved in the projects. Not only that, they were also a great opportunity to build a community around projects.
So if you are looking to create the next breakthrough product, teaming up a group of specialists in novel ways might be a good idea. Research Interest Groups can help with that. Even though we are not able to meet in person now, we can still make space for people to meet potential collaborators they may not otherwise run into. I urge you to organize a Research Interest Group and foster collaboration within your organization.