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Upleveling Community Members

There is a continuum of participation in an InnerSource community. There are people who are not aware of the community. Newcomers might be interested in the community and its product, but have not yet used it. Consumers use the software but may not have made a contribution. Then there are the Contributors who have made at least one contribution, and finally the Trusted Committers, who are taking responsibility for both the software and the community. As a Trusted Committer, you are responsible for moving individuals along this continuum and upleveling their ability to make contributions. In this sense, Trusted Committers act as force multipliers in their community.

It is important for Trusted Committers to market their product and communities to increase the number of newcomers and consumers. They should also communicate opportunities to make contributions to consumers and try to elicit and align the interests of potential Contributors with that of the community. What often works well is if Contributors are able to work on something that benefits their department or role in the company. Development tools and automation are good examples.

Finally, it is the Trusted Committer’s responsibility to identify and support Contributors with the potential to grow by encouraging them to tackle challenging tasks and mentor them towards completion. This is, in our opinion, a Trusted Committer’s noblest responsibility, and it is rewarding for both Trusted Committer and contributor. We’ve heard Trusted Committers say that mentoring and seeing people level up their abilities more than makes up for the fact that they have less time to actually spend writing software.

As mentioned in the previous section, learning and personal growth are reasons people join and stick around in an InnerSource community. Upleveling their Contributors is one of the most powerful tools Trusted Committers have at their disposal to increase the speed, output and longevity of their communities. It is also one of the key arguments with which to convince management to allow their employees to participate in an InnerSource community, as that will make their employees more valuable to the company overall and help them retain top talent.

In summary, Trusted Committers need to attract new Contributors and level up their ability to make contributions. This activity ultimately levels up the community’s ability to create better software faster. They do so by communicating opportunities to make contributions and by helping and mentoring Contributors enabling them to grow.