Any change thrown into a community is rejected by a force proportional to the conservatism of the community and to the size of the change.
Change needs to be managed, particularly in Open Source communities.
- Create a climate of less conservatism, e.g. by getting users used to small, non-critical changes (best practice example: Ubuntu’s continuous and small changes of skin between versions).
- Float the ideas early and talk about them so that they won’t come unexpected.
- Identify the key opinion- and decision-makers in the community and get them to buy into the ideas. Gather support.
- Identify timing opportunities to introduce change (e.g. the new start of a development cycle is better than the middle).
- Implement small chunks of change when the opportunity arise and when you’re sure that you have the available resources and support to make them fly.
I’m an agent of change. I just released Hugin-2009.2.0_beta2, and there’s more to come. Watch me. You don’t need to love me.