Fueling innovative software
July 15-18, 2019
Portland, OR

7 cultural models to adapt to a world of increased complexity

Kristof Van Tomme (Pronovix)
1:35pm2:00pm Tuesday, July 16, 2019
InnerSource Day
Location: E143/144
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 1 rating)



Open source and InnerSource are part of a much larger wave of change that’s helping the world to adapt to the massively increased complexity of a digitally connected society. It’s fairly tangible to identify open source software development best practices and to copy them, but it’s much harder to establish an open source-like culture in an organization. It’s hard to even know where to start or how to separate great cultural patterns from accidental cultural artifacts that could be detrimental but seem relevant because of survivor bias.

To get started, you have to get an as complete as possible understanding of the principles behind open source culture. Drawing on the deep knowledge gained from reading and thinking about these principles for the past 13 years, Kristof Van Tomme introduces seven mental models and surprising insights that have transformed the way he thinks about business. With references to the books that helped crystallize the insights, he explains why these mental models and insights can help an organization build an open source-like culture.

The seven cultural models:

  1. To thrive in a fast-changing environment, you need a complex, adaptive system.
  2. Motivation isn’t about sticks, but it isn’t about carrots either.
  3. Collaboration at scale no longer needs to be transactional.
  4. When focused around feelings and needs, conflicts are growth opportunities.
  5. Language is an indicator of cultural maturity.
  6. Digital businesses are value networks rather than value streams.
  7. Living systems use just enough constraints and fallible substructures to gain immortality.
Photo of Kristof Van Tomme

Kristof Van Tomme


Kristof Van Tomme is an open source strategist and architect and the CEO and cofounder of Pronovix. He’s been building bridges between the documentation and Drupal community for a few years now. He’s co-organizer of the London Write the Docs Meetup and cheerleader for the Amsterdam Write the Docs Meetup. After his first two InnerSource conferences, Kristof got really excited about pattern languages and how they can be applied to help teams develop better documentation despite the constraints that exist for internal software programs. He initiated and later became the co-organizer of an introductory Drupal course at the University of Szeged, Hungary. As a permanent member of the Drupal Association, he’s served as the lead for the selection task force for European Drupalcons and of the inaugural Nomination Committee and the initiator and (co)lead of Drupalcon Szeged (2008), DrupalCXO Brussels, Amsterdam, and Rome, Drupal Developer Days Brussels (2011), Drupal Government Days (2011), and the Write the Docs unconference in Berlin (2014 July). He has a degree in bioengineering and is a regular speaker at conferences in the API, DevRel, and technical writing communities.