OLPC's bizarre behaviors

Kim Quirk kim at laptop.org
Wed May 21 21:53:31 EDT 2008

Support-gang (Alan, and others),

Lots of things that we do don't meet any normal expectations of a
'company'. Most people at OLPC will tell you we are not a 'company'.
That doesn't mean these things are good or bad; clearly there is some
of each. But many times it means we all scramble around to do things
that were poorly planned and poorly communicated trying to answer
questions that we haven't thought through. I am anxious to stop the
scrambling because it is a model for burn out and not sustainable for
most people.

I have been trying to understand it, explain it, live with it ,
and improve it for a year now. What I think is going on is a unique
and somewhat chaotic (perfect storm?) intersection of non-profit, open
source, research lab cultures with the need to ship a real product.

The non-profit provides us with excess emotion towards a mission,
where heated discussions are extra heated. Open source brings us a
regionally and culturally diverse community of people that need lots
of good communications and teamwork to be focused and productive. The
research background brings an individualism, little or no management
structure, and a lot of really smart people.

On top of all that are the 'company' like things we have tried to
achieve: create a production quality product with 7 new technologies,
and launch over 300,000 of them in the first 4-5 months of production.

Are we crazy? yes.

Is it ok to be that crazy? This week we got a lot of feedback from
various countries and individuals who are very enthusiastic about what
we are doing and feedback that it IS working for the kids. So, yes.

Can we use help? Absolutely. Lots of it! The hardest thing for us to figure
out is how to let people help us.

Thanks for thoughts, ideas, and all the help you have already provided!


On Fri, May 16, 2008 at 11:11 PM, Alan Claver <alc at psu.edu> wrote:
> On 5/16/08 6:26 PM, "Richard A. Smith" <richard at laptop.org> wrote:
>> Stay tuned.  Now that the press release has been made other more
>> detailed info can follow.
> Yes. That's the way to run a company. Make a press release and then scramble
> the company to match the promises and keep your support people in the dark
> so they can't prepare for what may come.
> I certainly prefer to read information on OLPC News rather than hear it from
> the people that I'm supposed to be helping by volunteering my time.
> _______________________________________________
> support-gang mailing list
> support-gang at lists.laptop.org
> http://lists.laptop.org/listinfo/support-gang

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