Meeting needs

It’s not often that I disagree with Hugh, but this time, I do: gapingvoid.

The headline of his post is, "How well does open source currently meet the needs of shareholders and CEOs". I think this question is part of the problem.

Almost no new idea meets the needs of shareholders and CEOs. That’s because most of all they need predictability and apparent freedom from risk. This is why public companies are almost always on the road to disaster. They flee from change in order to do what they think is meeting the needs of those constituents. They fight changes in laws, policies, technologies and markets because their CEO (especially) wants a nice even flight pattern while he racks up big time options.

Shrink wrap software feels safe. Secure. Supported. Beyond reproach.


It turns out that open source can do a brilliant job of meeting their actual needs (lower overhead to install and maintain, higher productivity to use, more stable over time) but the problem is that apparent needs (playing it safe, making your boss happy) almost always get in the way. Until it’s too late. When it’s too late, the competition has leapfrogged you.

Simple example: blogging. Blogging doesn’t seem to fit into the command and control mindset of media companies. It doesn’t seem to have obvious ad-driven or traffic-driven payoffs. It represents a threat (or at least volatility) to the stock price. So they ignore them. Until, of course, a blog has a greater circulation than the company’s magazine.