Collaboration and community

After observing many different companies and projects over the years, two thoughts have emerged:

  1. to innovate, you need a community
  2. to scale, you need collaboration

More on this later …

Why does innovation require community? I can see how collaboration between diverse skill sets is required to scale a project or bring an idea to production, but it seems like individuals can innovate alone.

@collinbrake good question. I think individuals can invent alone, but innovation is the realization of ideas into something practical that society values. Several reasons why I think community is important:

  • you need feedback to know if your ideas are valuable, needed by society, etc.
  • modern systems are complex and it is very likely you don’t know everything needed to implement an idea. This is true even if you are part of a reasonably sized company. Even large companies like Google realize the value of community with their many open source efforts.
  • development is a fundamentally iterative process. You need feedback and outside perspectives for iteration to work well.
  • much of the art of product development is knowing what technologies are available and the right time to use them. For example, Apple did not release the iPhone until capacitive touch screens were practical. The earlier smart phones/tablets from other companies all used resistive touch screens which are not as usable and never gained traction. So being connected with a community of experts helps you stay abreast of new technologies and how to apply them.
  • being part of a community is how we are wired and makes life more enjoyable – especially when you are up against difficult problems.

Just thoughts – other ideas welcome.