6

Right now I am in a strange situation, and looking for advices. I will start with the facts, then move onto the gray area, then to my question.

Facts:

  • Given a company (Western-Europe), with over a 1k employees, almost half of them doing IT related work, the other half is the business.
  • One of the top leader of the IT has an opensource project, he has been maintaining this for years. The only active contributors to this project are exclusively he and his closest work associates (his own team).
  • At this point this project is definitely not an established framework, has no SO tag, a hundred stars on Github in total, does not have a community behind it.

Problem:

We are now officially being told to use this framework for development.

My thoughts on this:

  • I think it is a huge conflict of interest. The leader is clearly emotionally attached to this project (he has been doing it in his freetime, so he has to be). Now the project's success means a lot to him, he cannot just focus on the company's interest.

  • Asking employees to use (and contribute to) his opensource project is not fair. Many people might rather start their own opensource project, and use that instead. From my point of view he is abusing his power to gain external (external to the company) reputation by making his project a success.

  • By this move, he is wasting company money. The huge majority of the employees believe that this is not the right tool for the job, so we could deliver more or, deliver the same amount of work in less time. But he insists nevertheless. We could have arranged a poll, but obviously this is a very delicate topic.

Question:

  • What constructive solution do I have in this case? I tried opposing this decision from professional point of view, but that was not enough. I do not have a forum where I could point out the morally questionable side of the story. I have no access to upper-management, neither they possess the background knowledge required to understand the professional side of the story.
  • 2
    Lot of emotion here. At this juncture probably not much you can do. Why don't you give it 6 months and see if it works itself out? – paparazzo Nov 21 '15 at 9:05
  • I don't see your point of view. If other employees want to spend 20 hours a week on top of the 40 hours they work for something that may be of use to the company, the company will say: good!! let them!! – user42272 Nov 21 '15 at 22:23
  • Is the open-source-ness relevant? What if this person told you to use their closed-source framework? – immibis Nov 22 '15 at 8:50
  • 100 isn't a lot of stars on GitHub? I'd love 100 stars on any of my work. Depending on the niche that could be a sizeable number. I nearly had a party when I cracked 50 one time. – user9158 Nov 24 '15 at 4:13
10

I don't quite get the problem.

Asking employees to use (and contribute to) his opensource project is not fair.

What has fairness to do with it? He does not ask you to contribute to it in your spare time or you will lose your job, does he? You get paid for contributing to the project.

By this move, he is wasting company money.

Because you can correctly estimate the effects of this decision? 1997 an employee decided to write an open-source network sniffer, because he wanted something better than tcpview. Do you think he wasted company-resources, when he created the predecessor of Wireshark?

The fact is that this framework will be under control of the company and developed in a direction that is useful for the company, while this is not true for any other framework out there.

You have stated the facts - that it takes time and money to use the framework. You have made sure that he knows this. That's as far as your responsibility goes and any step further is a bad decision.

2

Consider the alternatives:

  • You use whatever tooling currently exists. Things get no worse, but get no better.

  • You buy a commercial product. Hopefully things get better; if not you complain to customer support. It costs the company real money.

  • You use another open-source tool. Hopefully things get better. If not you complain and hope the developers agree and address your concern promptly... though you may have to wait for them to get around to it.

  • You use this open-source took. You know that you have someone who us committed to addressing your company's issues before any others. Assuming the tool us at all reasonable, this us almost identical to:

  • You develop a new tool internally. You have full control of it, but you also have to do all your own support. Unless you, as a company, donate it to open source....

  • You develop the tool internally and try to sell it. You may make money on that, you may lose moneym but it's a big investment either way.

There are legitimate argunents for or against any of these. Tge arguments the OP advanced are not among them.

2

Your reasons against using the OS framework are antagonistic and are going to make you look very bad. At the core, someone besides you went above and beyond and you absolutely can't stand that. That's how it looks to me and that's probably how it looks to a lot of people around you.

If you think it's unfair that someone else wrote OS code on his own time that's now being used by the company, then write OS code on your own time and use it at the company. That's a bit more productive than attacking someone for doing extra work for the company, and you shouldn't be surprised that your complaint that someone did extra work without pay and is now donating it to the company is falling on deaf ears.

  • You call it a "conflict of interest" as if the OS project were paying his salary,
  • you say he is "clearly attached because he just has to be" as if you are a psychiatrist and lawyer
  • you say he is "wasting money" for building something for free on his own time,
  • and allude to a "huge majority" of employees when admitting you've taken no poll so can't possibly know that. (Or maybe there's a huge majority "because there just has to be"?)

Tread carefully, your company might call your bluff and ask you to write OS code on your own time an extra 20 hours a week, since you think it's so unfair when other people do that.

0

Ask yourself this:

If your boss is willing to cross professional lines, and abuse his power to promote his pet project, what will he do to the person who tries to get in his way?

You say you have no access to upper management, which is bad. But now imagine that you did get an email or document to them. In it you would outline that working with this framework is bad for business. Would any of them be tech savvy enough to be able to understand your arguments? Because the person they would probably turn to for clarification is your boss, and he would spin it in his favour.

The fact is that he is a position of power, and has just "turned to the dark side". Now you can either soldier on, or try to fight "the Empire" - the established company hierarchy. There are only two possible outcomes, really:

  • Either he is let go for his very questionable decision (or quits in a rage because his project won't be adopted)
  • or you get fired.

    As others have suggested, your best bet is probably to just roll with it. If the framework truly is garbage, then that should become obvious very quickly. At that point you boss may have enough integrity to pull the plug on the project, or enough people may oppose him that it happens no matter what he wishes.

Raising a stink does you no benefit whatsoever, especially since it has such a small chance of getting you what you want.

If you tough it out and decide to leave, at least you will do so on good term, and maybe get a great reference letter.

Best of luck!

PS: may I also point out that you are approaching this entire situation with a LOT of negativity. I understand your frustration, and your anger. I really do. This sort of blatant abuse makes ME want to go loony. But consider that maybe the whole thing will not turn out as poorly as you think. Maybe your team will improve the framework to the point where it becomes an effective tool. If you decide that you ARE going to hate your job, then you are going to be miserable no matter what. If that's the case, then the sooner you quit, the better (for your own sake).

  • @Brian - always happy to help! I hope it all works out for you! – AndreiROM Nov 21 '15 at 17:10
  • You don't know that he "turned to the dark side", only that the OP is convinced he did, which is a little ironic given how you've described how he'll abuse his powers. – user42272 Nov 21 '15 at 22:45
  • Ugh sorry, I hate downvoting rival answers but telling OP he is a "soldier" engaged in battle with his tyrannical tech lead is sooooo not the direction to take this. – user42272 Nov 21 '15 at 22:45
  • @djechlin - I think you may be reading that a little too literally. – AndreiROM Nov 21 '15 at 22:52
  • I don't think the relationship should be adversarial at all. – user42272 Nov 22 '15 at 3:24
0

What licence was it released under?

I can imagine, the worst case, that he wants free company time to develop his OSS project so he can set up a company supporting it. At best, he thinks it really is a good project and would enable a lot of code reuse to save the company a ton of time and money - you reuse standards-based code all the time (possibly without even noticing).

So what happens in any case is that you get some new code to work with. How is that different to any other codebase you might have to work with at the company? At least you now have the ability to shape for the better - OSS is great for that.

Of course, if he does just want you all to work on his project so he can spin it off as a new thing, that means he'll leave ... and then you guys can fork it or support it yourselves. Happy days - even the worst case has a silver lining :-)

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