A Good Leader is a Good Architect

I’ve been whining (yeah, that’s pretty much the word) a lot recently about the state of contributions to the CDT and about the struggles I face even internally to get more time to spend on open source. I’ve been pretty frustrated and depressed about that and it’s showing in my writing.

But the conference calls we’ve been holding to plan for CDT 6.1 are definitely a bright spot, and they’re something I will get some energy and inspiration from. The gang that is contributing, while generally being individuals instead of the teams of people we had in the past, are really smart and have some great ideas. And that’s something we can definitely build upon.

Analyzing my participation in these calls and in my day job at Wind River, I am really coming full circle to something I decided a few years ago around the time the CDT was just starting. I am an architect, not a project manager. I love technology and building things and making them good. With the CDT, the indexer was my main challenge and I had a good team to work with and mentor and at the end of the day, it’s really good.

I had the same idea with the build model, but I chose to be a project manager for that portion and not get involved technically. I regret that now since I see a few bad decisions that are leading to the current mass of issues people are having with it on the cdt-dev list. Working with Leo from Intel who was there at the beginning too, we are trying to piece together what we were trying to do and I think if we step back to that time and move forward again, we can straighten things out.

So, I think that’s how I get out of my current funk. I plan on doing less project management and do more technical architecture work and lead the CDT that way. The team that we have now are very new and there are others hovering around looking for ways to get started. They could benefit from the experience of the few that are still around from the early days when we had a good vision of what we’re trying to achieve. And maybe we can grow some new leaders to help the next generation.

Looking around at projects that are successful, those projects get that way because they are lead by good designers that can communicate well, empathize with the customer, and mentor others to do the same. When you don’t have a “Sugar Daddy”, as I refer to the companies that invest heavily in open source projects (see Google and IBM), you need to lead in ways that make the open source team successful. And almost always, that means focusing on technology and architecture. A good leader is a good architect. And good leaders make good projects. And good projects attract contributors. And that’s the answer to my riddle.