In March 2015, the leadership of Berlin-based Zalando gathered the company’s entire tech team in a hip underground techno club (it’s Berlin, after all) and announced a new way of working—something called “Radical Agility.” Inspired by Daniel Pink’s Drive, Brian Robertson’s Holacracy system, and the Agile movement, Radical Agility emphasizes Drive’s call for autonomy, mastery, and purpose as the pillars of the company’s tech strategy and culture.
As you might expect from such a substantial cultural transition, Radical Agility deeply transformed Zalando’s open source development efforts by freeing up engineers to experiment, create, and innovate. Lauri Apple explains how this process created a guild of engineers passionate about open source and got the team talking about their work more frequently. Zalando also went from releasing hardly anything on GitHub to releasing ALL THE THINGS, which presented its own set of challenges: how do you balance the desire to let engineers make their own decisions about what to publish on GitHub while keeping the signal-to-noise ratio low? Lauri offers some answers to that question and describes how to go about helping your engineers develop a stronger product mindset to help their projects succeed (hint: feature teams). Finally, Lauri briefly explores Zalando’s InnerSource efforts and how these help its open source efforts.
Based in Berlin, Germany, Lauri Apple is responsible for developing Zalando’s open source culture and promoting its projects industry wide. Lauri also leads Zalando’s InnerSource initiative to drive the open source collaboration model internally and project manages a development team. Before joining Zalando, Lauri was the tech evangelist at Gilt Groupe in New York City. Her life before technology evangelism included stints as a journalist, PR consultant/social media strategist, and law student at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
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