Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

06 Jun 2022, 14:30 p.m.

My Upstream Talk Tomorrow: Cadence Shear

My 25-minute talk "Cadence shear: Managing rhythm and tempo mismatches in participation" is in 1 day: 2:30-3pm EDT on Tuesday, June 7th, as part of Upstream 2022. Registration is free and the conference is online. (I mentioned this last week in my email newsletter along with some recent writing, a few useful new tools and resources, and some places hiring people to do open source.)

Sometimes different participant groups want different project velocities and rhythms. That’s cadence shear. Like when:

  • Most of your team is volunteer, but there’s a Google Summer of Code intern who’s working 35-40 hours per week for 3 months, and who needs faster turnaround on code reviews.
  • Some of your contributors are tied to the release cycle for a related organization/project (such as Debian releases), but some are not.
  • A few different companies, nonprofits, government agencies, or academic teams are maintaining and improving a tool together – but one of them is working way slower or way faster than everyone else.

In general, cadence shear is a problem where different subsets of the team are attuned to different deadlines, or have different levels of urgency for project progress.

This is a problem of success. Congratulations: your open source project includes contributors with genuinely different incentives and from genuinely different contexts!

Let’s talk about some of the participant configurations that you see in this situation – paid plus volunteers, volunteers plus time-limited paid, paid teams in a consortium, and volunteers with disparate deadline affiliations – and some approaches to learning and addressing everyone’s expectations.

The talk is prerecorded, and I'll be posting the text of the talk on my blog tomorrow; attend live to participate in Q&A. Hope to see you there!