We have many great leaders in the Drupal community. Prominent examples are Boris Mann, Zack Rosen, Adrian Rossouw and Chris Messina. Some of the leaders in the FOSS world are referred to as evangelists. Leaders, and evangelists, look outward. They familiarize themselves with emerging technologies, study the competition, connect different projects and technologies. They are strategic thinkers that take us to places we might not have gone on our own.

We also have great managers in the Drupal community. Prominent examples are Kieran Lal, Robert Douglass and Steven Peck. Leaders and managers are fundamentally different. Unlike leaders, managers look inward. They look inside the community and focus on the people doing the work. They recognize the fact that a community the size of Drupal's has a lot of potential (even in areas like usability and aesthetics) and that many of the individuals in the Drupal community have the power to make a difference. Managers remove barriers, care about the infrastructure, help people get on board and make them perform. By doing so they (indirectly) get a lot of work done. Many of the FOSS world's managers are best described as being mentors.

Both evangelists (leaders) and mentors (managers) are invaluable. Acting as an evangelists or acting as a mentor is as important as contributing code, patches or documentation.

We also have many great contributors that are not necessarily evangelists (leaders) or mentors (managers), but that have the passion, the knowledge and the competency it takes to make things happen. They are often exceptionally accomplished at tracking down problems, fixing bugs, writing documentation, translating user interfaces, or providing support. They are the heart of the Drupal community. They make Drupal tick.

You identified yourself as being part of the latter category? Ever wished there were more people to help? That you had more hours in a day? It is a clear sign that we need more mentors. Please act as a mentor. Find, motivate, guide and empower people to take on a role within the Drupal community. Be a mentor determined to unlock some of the potential and to bring on board a range of valuable and necessary talents. You'll find it both rewarding and sustainable.


bertboerland (not verified):

Great posting Dries (you are reading management books too much ;-). But indeed, a company is about the same as running a project and we need all the roles that are in a company; security, CEOs, CTOs, operations, etc. and all of them need passion to do their job and do it good.

That's why I follow Drupal; to see how a succesful OSS project is run and how I can reuse some of the lessons for my employer.

Arnab (not verified):

Good post, hope there's enough of "higher management" -- "high level mentors" -- who have a good idea about the complete picture and keep track of long term goals, etc. (If I recall correctly, this was against drupal philosophy at one point of time - i.e. growth should be organic)

A lot of small things get done with popular enthusiasm(e.g. ajaxy features, in-place editing)[1], but there are some features that don't get popular attention(e.g. good search API, search implementation)[2]. I'm not saying that the former are not important - they're VERY useful for me. In the long term, the latter are more likely to provide value to the project. Many of these "long term value" things, like the Search API, Fapi, the Drupal "hook" Object Model, Taxonomy, form the crux of why Drupal is so awesome. And these things need a special kind of mentor, who has the outlook to pull off things that will make a greater impact on how good Drupal is. For me, these special mentors are much more important.

(This would be the right place to name some "high level mentors"; but I'm scared of offending people I forget to mention!)

[1],[2] both types of examples were done by same person.

Gunnar Langemark (not verified):

I agree with Arnab.
And I think that Drupal faces some difficulty in the year ahead - when hordes of newbies - developers, and users - Discover Drupal - and don't really "get it". It makes a lot of noise. So I think Drupal ought to emphasize the STRONG points while working on the weak points. Drupal can not be everyting to everybody all the time.

I'm a connector more than a leader or manager. I work with a couple of people in Copenhagen these days - trying to set up a local group of Drupal people. Somehow Drupal has never really gotten off the ground in Denmark, and even though I've been evangelizing Drupal for three years - I've done so more globally and less locally. That is about to change.

In my opinion Drupal is THE leading Social Networking Software. No less. That is the strong point.

I work with Sharepoint Portal and Sharepoint Services too. They are two different "animals".


colorado (not verified):

Thank you for this wonderful post. As someone new to the Drupal community, I very much agree that it is the strength of the community itself that is the magnet that attracts and holds me here. With this inclusive attitude, Drupal provides a great environment for learning to build bridges across the divides that tend to exist between coders and non-coders in the community.

We can all be mentors in one way or another, and of course we all need mentors.

Amnon Levav (not verified):

It takes a lot of time to learn Drupal. Enterance barriers are high and become higher every day. The sheer number of options is frightening. There are so many options, so many opportunities.

We should ease the way people discover new modules, new features, and contribute code. We should ease the way people collaborate.

For example, Drupal's CVS management is one area to improve. I've requested a CVS account last June, and got a password. Then I lost the password email and asked to recover it. I filled a support request. For two months, nothing had happend. I tried to use the CVS new account request, but got an answer that the user already exists(user name: levavie).


Simon (not verified):

This is very true, the catch is that the community doesn't listen to people at first who may have the most to say, until it's often too late..

All we can hope is that people see results and we move from there.

2009 will be a critical year for Drupal and one that we are hoping we can help with, but it's time for the community to come together.. or agree that it's time to move on.. a big statement perhaps, but there is no more scope for children on the motorway.. (or is there..)