Many projects would like to have more people doing more stuff, but delegating seems time-consuming. Meanwhile, new contributor enthusiasm is one of the most valuable commodities in the free software world. Strategic delegation can help grow a project while conserving contributor energy. Great delegators know how to attract enthusiastic new people and maintain their momentum once they’ve arrived.
Projects need empowerers instead of bottlenecks. Several things can be done to prepare a project for new delegees. Designing self-serve processes and transparent systems can help you grow your project. Learn how to set reasonable expectations for what you can delegate, what your new contributors can accomplish and how to keep your delegees on task. Happy and fulfilled contributors keep coming back for more tasks.
Not all aspects of delegation are intuitive and not every person is right for every project. There are ways to identify and gently release those folks who are a poor fit for your project. Delegate like a boss!
Deb Nicholson works at the intersection of technology and social justice. She has over fifteen years of non-profit management experience and got involved in the free software movement about five years ago when she started working for the Free Software Foundation. She is currently the Community Outreach Director for the Open Invention Network – the defensive patent pool built to protect Linux projects. She is also the Community Manager for GNU MediaGoblin, a brand new federated media hosting program. In her spare time, she serves on the board of OpenHatch, a small non-profit dedicated to identifying and mentoring new free software contributors with a particular interest in building a more diverse free software movement.
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