Artikel merken

Or how an excellent jam session could be a collaborative effort: 2 + 2 = 5

St. Augustin, Florida, January 20th 2001. Rie and I are walking through the main street of the oldest town in USA carried on by the thick fumes of Belgian waffles and rods of peanut butter. The last ray of sunlight is fighting bravely to cast a charming glare on the roofs while we are approaching what must have been left-overs from a Ripleys Believe-It-Or-Not promotion tour from an undefined period in history. A classic one-man show.

7 Min. Lesezeit

TYPO3 started out as a one-man-show.
With drums on the back, bells on the shoes and three choices of
instruments around the neck, I played them all back then. Over the
years we have managed to extend the band. We are more like a Jam
session now. There’s a basic style, there’s a core to what happens.
Apart from that, come sit, play, improvise.

The Jam

A Jam Session you want to listen to is not about individuals playing individual stuff individually. Its basic criteria for success is that every player understands his “real-time relation” to the symbiosis. The audience throws a dime in the bucket only if you cut it right. However, if you do, you will both have fun and make money.

In the TYPO3 community, teams are loosely structured. Some are dead, some just anarchistic or very fluent, others are more structured and determined, while others are living a life of their own, then there are those who are in the centre of the community. Do we need to discipline the Jam Session a bit? Is there even agreement as to the style of music? Are people happy if you simply give them an instrument to play? Or do we long for a greater coherence in the tunes we produce?

I believe the “music” we create in the TYPO3 Jam Session has a basic quality to it because it springs from a core identity we all know. It’s not that bad after all. But as more musicians have entered the scene with no explicit guidance into the Jam, I see more and more groups playing the best they can but with the amplifiers turned off, pointed in the wrong direction or out of sync with the rhythm. What a waste of resources. Our vision, “inspiring people to share”, doesn’t scale our collaborative efforts if it sends people to a dark corner of the stage.


Is it a new drug? Is it a new file extension? No, TSD (“Teams in the Sky with Diamonds”) is the tune we are currently playing:

The current structure of the TYPO3 project

The current structure of the TYPO3 project

It’s the sad song about gemstones lost in the thin air above us. Content Rendering Group – where do you belong on the tree? Who is in charge of the Wiki-infrastructure? Where to discuss version 5.0 architecture if you want your contribution to matter? Can T3UGs receive any support from the international community? Who on earth (or (c|h)yperspace) is responsible for Do we have a documentation team at all? Where can I go to contribute my specific talent in this chaos?

Conclusion: We have to impose structure to the Jam Session. Without writing full note-sheets out, that is!


In many ways this is nothing new. Committee > Team > Workgroup, CTW. In fact it is a reflection of what we already have in some sort of limping state – a hierarchical division of our community. On the first level there are committees under the TYPO3 Association. They already have basic responsibilities assigned – as well as authority. Under committees it has been useful to create teams for specific tasks. But even within a team you will find the necessity to create a work group referring to that team.

The graphic below is not a final structure but an example of how diamonds in the sky can become values on the ground: By connecting them into the structure!

In this structure I envision that every node is bound to its parent by a “contract” defining:

  • Responsibilities: What they must do
  • Authority: What they can decide
  • Information: How they report
  • Resources: Mailing lists, wikis, IRC, URLs
  • Interaction: How to contact and participate

Committees, Teams, and Workgroups in the new structure

Committees, Teams, and Workgroups in the new structure

More than a job-database

I hear voices about missing transparency, I hear people who want to contribute but don’t know how, people are still writing me emails that doesn’t work and such. Clearly, we have no proper communication telling who is responsible for what and how to communicate with them when found. This is what we will get now. The new structure connected with “contracts” will make it obvious who has authority to decide who is responsible for this and that, what relevance this or that mailing list has, where you can throw in your resources to solve the problems that Open Source projects by nature should invite you to fix, etc.

Yes, we need a job-database! But this is much more than a Job-database and even preceeds it. Because who wants a “job” in a team who has no official authority to decide anything? In fact, I’m surprised so many people find it acceptable to work in a context where their only hope is to include people on the team who happen to be on the core team as well and thus can push the “patch” into the core etc.

Setting expectations right

Working in the TYPO3 community shouldn’t depend on having a good standing with an influential key developer. Contribution should be governed by a contract that sets expectations right from both sides; what a committee can expect from a team – and what authority a team gets in return to produce results. Getting things into the core shouldn’t be random.


A few years ago Rie and I began renovating our basement. We did all sorts of handy work there. Rie is quite different from me in that respect. She loves the practical work, but has a “get it overwith” attitude. Fast decisions, broad lines, dive into it head-first. I would, on the other hand, spend days (and nights) planning details, dreaming about possibilities, trying to “figure it all out” to make it perfect. I would educate myself with articles on the subject to do it right on the first attempt.

The result is that Rie and I had lots of difficulties working together. We both recognized that I had acquired more knowledge on the topic than she had. On the other hand, that alone couldn’t disqualify her to help out. We never really found the golden path through that, but there were two approaches to handling collaboration: “Go-for” delegation; I would tell Rie what to do “Stack the tiles there”, or “fetch the hammer, we need it soon”. Result – Rie would be very boring. Just reacting to simple orders. She would soon either revolt against my leadership or leave it all to me instead, depending on her ambition level. “Stewardship” delegation; I would tell Rie about the goal “We need tiles on the floor in this room. Tiles are in the garage. Tools you will need are in this box. The space between tiles must be 10mm and they should be laid with a 45 degree rotation. Questions?” Result – Rie would be more fun having freedom to complete her assignment. It would take an investment of instruction and education – and the risk of misunderstandings – but also become a more satisfactory work, honouring her intellect and resourcefulness.

Scale the bottleneck

The “Stewardship” delegation will transform our community from the usual bottlenecks-of-command to independent, scalable nodes. It will create commitment because people are involved. Teams must deliver defined results, in return they get authority on a certain topic.
Externally, breaking down our structure into such miniature nodes creates much more transparency, less confusion and hopefully activates the large amounts of passive resources we assumingly have dormant lying around.


I have been told that a good structure, contracts and all that “legal glue” which will build our nodes together is like placing a plant in your living room and not watering it. At first it looks great, but it will be dead in a week (with a geek).

It sounds more experimental, but we also need to observe the team process. All teams go through phases from immature to mature, low output to high output – if they live that long! If this is true for geographically close teams, it must be even more true for teams in a distributed online context like ours.

I’m not completely certain how to do this, but I would like to explore how we can nurture the team process, as well as, coach team leaders, protect our motivation, and develop team leaders from team members. Lets depart from a route where we are all basically looked upon as worker bees. Lets also develop our “cyber-social” team skills on the way. We all have different personalities! Lets discover that as a complementary strength and not a source of conflict.

TYPO3 Is More Than A Software. Its a Jam Session that became a home and lifestyle for many. Respectful collaboration between all instruments will produce the unexpected result of “more”: 2+2=5. If human ressources work like designing, improving and monitoring our teams and processes in an online context turns you on, please contact me directly to offer your help.

Mehr zu diesem Thema

Fast fertig!

Bitte klicke auf den Link in der Bestätigungsmail, um deine Anmeldung abzuschließen.

Du willst noch weitere Infos zum Newsletter? Jetzt mehr erfahren

Schreib den ersten Kommentar!
Bitte beachte unsere Community-Richtlinien

Wir freuen uns über kontroverse Diskussionen, die gerne auch mal hitzig geführt werden dürfen. Beleidigende, grob anstößige, rassistische und strafrechtlich relevante Äußerungen und Beiträge tolerieren wir nicht. Bitte achte darauf, dass du keine Texte veröffentlichst, für die du keine ausdrückliche Erlaubnis des Urhebers hast. Ebenfalls nicht erlaubt ist der Missbrauch der Webangebote unter als Werbeplattform. Die Nennung von Produktnamen, Herstellern, Dienstleistern und Websites ist nur dann zulässig, wenn damit nicht vorrangig der Zweck der Werbung verfolgt wird. Wir behalten uns vor, Beiträge, die diese Regeln verletzen, zu löschen und Accounts zeitweilig oder auf Dauer zu sperren.

Trotz all dieser notwendigen Regeln: Diskutiere kontrovers, sage anderen deine Meinung, trage mit weiterführenden Informationen zum Wissensaustausch bei, aber bleibe dabei fair und respektiere die Meinung anderer. Wir wünschen Dir viel Spaß mit den Webangeboten von t3n und freuen uns auf spannende Beiträge.

Dein t3n-Team

Melde dich mit deinem t3n Account an oder fülle die unteren Felder aus.

Bitte schalte deinen Adblocker für aus!

Hallo und herzlich willkommen bei t3n!

Bitte schalte deinen Adblocker für aus, um diesen Artikel zu lesen.

Wir sind ein unabhängiger Publisher mit einem Team von mehr als 75 fantastischen Menschen, aber ohne riesigen Konzern im Rücken. Banner und ähnliche Werbemittel sind für unsere Finanzierung sehr wichtig.

Schon jetzt und im Namen der gesamten t3n-Crew: vielen Dank für deine Unterstützung! 🙌

Digitales High Five
Holger Schellkopf (Chefredakteur t3n)

Anleitung zur Deaktivierung

Artikel merken

Bitte melde dich an, um diesen Artikel in deiner persönlichen Merkliste auf t3n zu speichern.

Jetzt registrieren und merken

Du hast schon einen t3n-Account? Hier anmelden