Ido Tzang, R&D and management mentor and innovation engineer and Chen Ravid xs:code Co-Founder and VP Product talk about Open Source Organizational Culture, the “HOLY SHIT” moment the Ido discovered open source, how Netflix invented “chaos engineering”, and how companies leverage the open source values into their organizations.
Chen: Hi everyone, and welcome to Value open-source the podcast about open source and other things and value and value. This is our second episode and I’m very happy to host today Ido Tzang. Ido is an R&D management Mentor with 20 years of experience in software engineering and product and he’s currently Innovation engineer a Taboola right
Ido: as well as some other things but yeah, some part of my time is
Chen: so can you tell us just a bit about yourself apart from my Introduction.
Ido: so yeah, I’m more than 40 years old. I have more than one kid, but less than three and just one wife though
Chen: spoken like a true developer.
Ido: Yeah. I’ve been doing software for like 25 years if you include some high school stuff and but somewhat like 25 years and I’ve been gradually moving to understand that software while it’s interesting and it’s sometimes you know, Does it for my school? Yeah, I would manage to build that and do that and I can do whatever I want with my whatever iPhone or know whatever.
I’ve been gradually throughout the years moving to and understanding that it’s not my main main main passion and making people. Do people around me do great stuff and you know, maximize their potential with software usually because you know, that’s my comfort Comfort area. That’s what I really like and enjoy doing and apparently do somewhat well, so you kind of you know management and leading people even not as a manager.
To build and to organize their lives and their work mainly and we talked about this in length and in a few minutes, so can you tell me just to get into the open-source perspective? How did you first become involved with open source or with the open-source principles? I remember vividly my first software years were in the Army’s 90s very closed environments most of Microsoft.
I didn’t know there’s something other than Visual Basic back then and nothing was there’s no real internet in stack Overflow and you know, so it’s now new in your head and maybe the guy next to you and that’s it. And then I finished that and I started working in a just a public commercial company and oh my God, I mean I don’t have to and I move to Java but I don’t have to take IBM or whatever.
A survey can there’s this thing called Tomcat patchy tomcat. When these new at the time it does the same thing as these huge projects do it doesn’t cost fewer costs. Nothing. I have the code they can debug it can extend it. Oh my God, how is it possible? How do I have free software? Which is on par if not better than you know, so that’s the holy shit moment.
Yeah was that was? Yeah, I was 25 or so. How does it happen? Who does it like who works 10 hours a day and then goes and does this Great build with great software for free? Yeah for free or yeah, can I do it as well? Am I good enough bla bla. I was like years of that.
Chen: Okay, and did you have like an opportunity to do to work on open source projects or just not really?
Ido: I mean, I really wanted to I. Wasn’t get pulled back then but whatever. It was. I took some code for I think it was some Apache project tomcat or some other Java framework. I took a look at the tasks that when I take it will I not take it in my good enough blah blah blah. Eventually, I did not contribute to the code, but I was just on the verge.
I felt like It was something good to do to give to the world I was not good enough at the time. Well, you’ve done great other things
Chen: So we usually talk here about open source in the sense of writing code or developing software been but it’s sometimes I extend beyond that and I wanted to ask you as a person who does this a lot? How are the principles of Open Source applied in other aspects of organizational culture?
Ido: That’s a very good question and I can easily answer I think today with you know people talk about or you lean development agile and all these things. Are you could when you look at it from an open-source perspective, like you said you can say we’re trying to mirror.
Open-source ecosystems within teams and companies because if I go home at 8 that whatever 6 p.m. 8 p.m. And then I go to my computer and I contribute to my projects and you do the same half a world away. There’s no manager telling us what to do. No one is forcing us to drive the code this way or that way or to refactor or is it we’re just giving whatever we have into the project and ten or a hundred more people do the same and it’s it becomes a great project maybe yeah.
What if we could do that in the business world? Right? What if we didn’t have to tell people what to do and instead of one manager making decisions 10 people collaborate into making a decision to a better decision the best decision so organization that I see organizations move there. Continuously trying to be you know, that’s political less top-down more giving those Millennials the self-expression they all need and guys you decide what you want to do.
There’s famous like at Google you get 20% of your time to do whatever you want a tabula. There’s no 20% but I get asked all the time. Do you want to participate in this do want a participant that not by my manager? My peers who will appreciate me in a way or want me in a way and trying to get me to work on their internal tool or project.
Maybe it’s already been approved by management maybe not but it’s amazing. I mean basically like a decentralized way of working. Yeah. It’s decentralized, you know, it’s striking the balance because you know, it’s a commercial to business. Yeah, it needs to eventually make money for the shareholders or whatever.
But let’s balance that this capitalist approached with doing good for the employees the world and finding the balance. So it’s not, you know, everyone does what they want. There are tasks and their features that customers know that but it’s balancing it with I think I know the answer and I don’t want to wait for three committees to managers blah blah just want I just want to try and do it and maybe I’ll succeed.
Maybe I failed and if I’m good at it. Maybe I’ll succeed more. Yeah, but yeah, it’s kind of unleashing everyone’s power onto the world through our business world. And I think that some of the great things about open source, like, you know, the many eyeballs Theory and the many brain theory that the more eyeballs see the code less likely that you will have bugs or yeah critical issues.
I think that applies here as well. Yeah again, like I said before on the code level and also on the. Ideation level process level and in the business of a, by the way, this is famous. It’s a short story. There’s a famous Netflix example, Netflix is well known. Well known of being one of if not the most D largest AWS customer, they pay millions and millions in is like a few instants in Cloud computers.
Yeah, I think that they show some TV. And they like they are known for inventing a thing called chaos engineering like if we take our systems down all the time in unexpected ways. And of course, build a system to be ready for that. Then there are systems that will be stable and they kind of pushed AWS to the edge and you know brought requirements to AWS.
You need to fix this to fix that and then they took this component which does the chaos then called chaos monkey and released it as open-source, really and now everyone can use chaos monkey and easily create chaos and force AWS to improve their platform. So Netflix is an AWS customer forced AWS to improve the platform by releasing something to open source some examples.
Yeah, it’s a business level. It happens at the business level as well. How do you think that companies that want to adopt like this the open-source principle you mentioned? How do you think they can benefit from implementing it? How do you think the benefits I think are like we said before I mean you recruit.
Because the best people around right maybe you’re local you do it at I don’t know where he is. And then the value in Israel may be Global and do it wherever you could the best people around you invest a lot of money and energy in, you know, having the best team. I think a bigger challenge or a more, you know, after two dates challenge is what do you make of that team?
How do you Unleash the Power of these individuals and that team? To be great and by letting people again say okay, I believe I believe this is important. I believe this is the solution to that problem. I believe, you know, this is what we need to do and let him do it in a rather easy way again not chaos not do whatever you want.
Maybe someone knows better or someone knows another perspective new organization that you better hear it before you running but. But this centralizing you can benefit, you know a lot the challenge is of course to find the balance. But I find that at the very even low level or Team level when I go into one of my workshops with the team or with a management team.
Let’s say all the directors in the company are in the engineering team and we work on. Collaboration within that team very basic things like you bring up an idea. How we interact to not shut you down. Yeah. So we don’t lose the idea and we don’t lose you because sometimes when people get shot down there.
Okay, then I’m not thinking it dripping. I’m not speaking this meeting again and if it happens five times and I’m not speaking ever again. So don’t lose the idea and you so brainstorming or you know, what happens when we fail what happens when there’s a production issue. How do we react? How do we as managers?
What do we teach you to know everyone to What’s the culture that we do do we blame do we ignore or do we grow and you know, so so these workshops starts these workshops. Sorry start off by I try to take people to. I would say non-business more non-business atmosphere kind of softening things that things up letting them see how in a non business environment.
If someone throws this silly idea to you you can play with it. Oh, man. If only we could go to the Moon then he Rich blah blah blah. I could have come wearing work. If someone said something silly about you know, the next thing you need to do with your product. No, Ya know what happens if you let this world’s meets much more it what happens if you say yes more for example, the let people fly your ideas to your employees to your colleagues to whoever again, you need to be able to say that no or to understand together that if it’s a definite yes or but what happens if we let the know if we delay the know for a few moments.
Okay, this kind of thing and a very basic level of interaction. Grows to become you know, okay, so I’m not being shut down. I’m even given time to work on that interesting. That’s a place. I want to work for a b maybe hopefully I have a positive impact on the company nice not I don’t have to be a manager a top manager to have a positive impact, so I’m happy.
I’ve brought him back. So you’re heading the company’s happy. This is kind of what I’m trying to do. That’s great. And that’s very similar to what happens in like real-life open source projects when everybody contributes and everybody gives their ideas. And again, I mean more brains more ideas more Innovation.
I think it’s easier to innovate to that’s a cool approach and obviously goes together with goes hand-in-hand. You know, what? Like okay, so I gotta prove like I’m I’ll work on that for a week for some time. Obviously, I will not get you to know, an open check for two years. Yeah, show us something next month probably so incremental and again lean it goes all goes together.
It doesn’t make sense to work for two years and then go to the customers in such an environment is work for two weeks or a month and show me what you have and then I’ll give you the next guy to help you. Yeah, so it makes sense. I agree and can you share some like real life experiences from what you need from like from your experience when you apply these principles?
And so yeah in the previous company, I worked for my last roll. I was a product manager and it was security company and security is a tough business like forget the business aspect. Is it tough technology space to be in it? You know. Those bad guys always have the motivations, you know, wherever there’s money.
We’re putting money and energy to get it. Yeah, so I have to be very creative and very smart whatever that means to tackle that. And I’ve been working with as a product manager of Market with obviously customers but inside internally or working with engineer engineering on one side and security research team on the other side.
I mean two sides of research and development teams to two angles and we’re like, okay, so we need to solve this problem. Now, what when I don’t have a solution, it’s not a I don’t know sort of business question. The business question is we need to solve it. Yeah, the biggest question is clear, but the together and then you guys.
I mean you need to talk. I mean you need to work it out. I mean, so the security guys had crazy ideas which the technology guys is what we can do that. I mean it’s not feasible. So and these guys had to put their heads together. With me, but without me as a I was not the leader of the meeting. I was not the manager that’s not really the manager.
And once they gave the I feel that I gave them the context guys. This is the customer is a problem real story. I brought them in the customer even and let go I really don’t know the solution and then now you guys need to even though your report to different people. Three-layer of three levels up your different organizations.
You need to be in the same room and talk about the same things and come up with you know with a joint list not he thinks a new I think being a decide know like a joint effort. You need to decide together what you’re going to research and what you’re going to build and it’s the same thing. Yeah.
Okay, and when you train people to do that, yeah, okay because in a lot of very vertical companies that’s very difficult to do because you have. Different teams. Everybody wants to get credit. Right things are very it’s like it’s just freaking meritocracy. Yeah, it’s a matter of. Another angle to look at it.
It’s a matter of what’s what Behavior do you promote and and and you know, encourage exactly things and how if you encourage like if the if you encourage some Behavior by promoting someone. Then you have a record hierarchical political organization, right? Because okay. I want to be him and with there’s 10 of us only one will be him what I need to do to be him know.
So it’s what you opt for and what you know, okay and have you see me like every scene opposition from management to abducting like course. I mean, yeah, I mean, that’s the mean. I’m the manager. They pay me I get paid more for a reason right I need to decide that’s the classic like the Factory floor.
You’re the guy creating the bumpers for the cars. I’m the Legacy about our schools these days right which is they’ve created in the industrial agent. So similar things like what know he’s an engineer is a good engineer, but it just left school. I’m not gonna let him waste his time on XYZ.
Yeah, but. When these managers. Enter these workshops. I mentioned before and probably with more so with peers than with their employees, but on the enter the group of directors or some level like that and they see the interaction between them and how much they flourish when they get good feedback and good vibes from their peers instead of, you know, being political and these kind of things.
You know, it clicks and a matter of our two. It’s clicks. Ooh, interesting. And now in the workshop. I really had fun with him. We had a good time. And we and we clicked about ideas. Even when we made it somewhat business not just out of the business. Wonder if I could do it in real life.
Can I do it? Okay. Now you guys you now have a task for next week. Let’s talk about in next Workshop. How did you do in the you know in the weekly meeting with the boss when you try to be together and not good pose? Okay, and let’s say we have like viewers who come from organizations and and they want to start adopting like an open source approach to development to development like an open source approach to organizational culture.
Yeah, how would you recommend an organization to start? Adopting or to start implementing these principles in their daily work. That’s a good question. First of all, there’s a whole bunch of online resources. If you just we can add like the show your feelings to the yeah, there’s a couple of podcasts I listen to and books.
I read or you know, no of the author’s but let’s say like is an overview like yeah, what are the key factors? You would recommend rifki processes you would recommend to adopt this these principles. So again, I would focus on. What we, you know, putting much attention on what what Behavior we encourage and benefit and that’s one what Behavior we encourage in benefit and second is going down to very specific levels like a team or two teams that work a lot together, but are you know separate organizationally and and putting them in the same room?
and not you know to argue about the problems or all these you know the used to have. Interface talks, you say what you expect from me. I say what it no not that take the business aspects off for an hour or two or three. Probably you need external help for that and just be people. Yeah, not and again not in the level of let’s go drink beer.
That’s great. That’s also great, but be civil and learn how to listen to each other. And respect each other’s ideas and all that do that usually off work like in an off context environment not talking about the next project or the next Milestone and then gradually we’re on the mask of okay. Now we’re in business.
We are still allowed to laugh and love each other, even though we report to different people who maybe whatever we’re still allowed to interact and be good with each other. And now let’s try to do business by the way works also with customers technology. If I’m a product manager your customer I could do that.
I can team up with you despite the fact that we’re in different companies. Yeah, but in fact, we have different interests. Yeah, and obviously different lenders so promote the culture to the behavior you want. And go deep in specific go to a specific team two teams freedoms and try to make the change from there.
I guess that’s probably my probably a difficult change to make to an entire organization, right? It’s not yeah, we propagate slowly right? So in a way, if it’s a big organization like I know. More than a hundred or two hundred Engineers not maybe big Israeli. But yeah, yeah medium or more than you probably need something at the top right you need some buy-in from VP or director level will usually with the human resources.
You need some buying up there, but get the buy-in there. And don’t then expect, you know, go one two down forever. No get the buy-in and then go specific and then learn from the example and lastly let people learn from the example. Okay, that’s good advice. Do you see that from your experience this approach works and you see that results are improving when doing this like a charm I mean.
We talked about customer experience like we heard of the industry talks about customer experience and employee experience how customers feel about my business how employees feel about my business and I found that this. Seems to focus on employee experience what I’m talking about, but it influences customer experience.
So fast engage the employees to be better product engage employees to talk to customers, you know nicer. Yeah more professionally but even nicer and so on and so forth. So so yes, definitely. Interesting. So now whenever more usually end up the podcast on a more personal note. So just about to hear from you.
How do you keep as a developer or the manager? How do you keep learning and developing yourself podcast? Maybe mainly I mean this one as well. Yeah, I mean. It’s more convenient for me to listen because I dropped when I drive. So yeah, I just find my categories and usually the kind of.
Point to each other even if not specifically I mean, it’s really it’s not hard to start with one. I like it. Okay, but here’s the next one and so on About Management about teamwork about the mean that there’s a bunch. That’s the main thing and I don’t know how much time we have but all this.
Gradual understanding, I described before about you know software people and me in my process. It’s to cough really fast when I started doing improvisational theater. Really? Yeah, that’s when you get really yeah, that’s when you need teamwork the most you’re on stage. Nothing is planned and you and your three four five colleagues.
Are all scared to death the tomatoes may come any minutes any second and you need to make something out of something. Yeah, and then someone comes with this says something or does you know, I don’t start digging whatever comes to his mind or body. And you as an improviser next to him have to in a minute 3 seconds.
Stop thinking about it. Okay. What what is my idea? What am I bringing know he did he decided? Okay. I’m with him you’re digging. Okay gold we found gold and something starts to happen and it’s so stressful you practice on his subject practice. So it’s less but it’s so stressful and so fulfilling to see how teamwork.
Just seem work. We don’t you don’t have to be a stand-up comedian for that. It’s not that it’s just teamwork and trusts within the team. How far along did he get you so. Okay, that’s very interesting. Actually, the picture things like improvisational theater is a bit like open source. It’s like it was a joint effort of a few people working together and nothing is preset.
Nobody tells you what to do. We just improvise I heard a guy came from sadly. I can’t credit him say that improvisational theater is like business strategy really it’s how you react to an unknown reality. Interesting never thought about it like this in schools. And I know in u.s. In schools in the US and in ivy league and an MBA degree, they have business improv resources.
Yeah, business improv never loved us that’s its shown to to to bring value to managers, you know to how you work with people how you manage your company is definitely interesting and usually we end up with this. What we end up with a small question here, which we will ask in a minute. But how do you see the future of Open Source?
If you’ll just go back to the open-source issue on the open source software level or that’s it’s a challenging question. I mean again, as I said, my focus is not on software. Let me think. I know it’s been I mean it’s not news but it’s been going out of the software, right? So there’s you can buy 3D you can buy an open-source 3D printer, right?
Not just the plans to print Iron Man rrrr-yah opens of the printer is open source you go get this these screws and then the license for the printer is open source, so there’s open source. Everything and anything because again for me it goes back to like improvisation people could people communicating so so it’s going to be everywhere like.
if I look at the. my linemen like my happy ending for the world. Is everything is open and everything’s shared and everything? It’s not just software and obviously again, there’s a balance here with you know, economy and forces and all that, not my expertise. But my fantasy is for every totally a few.
Yeah, exactly tokens the word I was missing. Yes that I can do I can get anything and everything. Maybe there’s you know, a better version or whatever, which is I pay for or whatnot. Yeah, I can make a living or make a life for myself with Open Source Products open source coffee. I don’t know it will be an interesting future.
Yeah, so we will end up with the quiz that we ask all of our guests. Oh my God, no worries. It’s a pretty simple Mac or PC PC. All right and using Mac for four months, and I still don’t understand. You know, why people yeah, what’s up? It’s very great. It’s really easy religious. Yeah, it’s difficult to say the browser of choice.
Chrome grow what idea do you use when you code IntelliJ? It used to be a clips for many years. I mean, it’s a Clips when I make the choice also free and IntelliJ for the companies to work for its usual intelligent. Okay, GitHub bitbucket or GitLab. bitbucket where I work. No preference.
Okay, otherwise Star Wars or Star Trek easy question easy for sport. I mean despite the reason for years. Okay, game of choice. Tabletop role-playing games that’s the family game of choice within that family. Keep things simple. I would say dungeon world. So the defendant yeah, that was great and lastly your top three open-source projects like that your top three favorite projects.
Okay. Okay good one. So the first one needs to be Apache Tomcat from the story before it’s like it’s free and it’s be even better than them commercial has to be that. Second one which is like the Apache Tomcat is my sweet 16 is like my first but the real love when I said well, these guys are amazing Springs called Spring spring framework.
It’s a Java framework. The guys came and looked at what Java was doing at the time said. Not good enough. We can do a better boom and like did an amazing thing. I took still today. I look at the code just to learn how to code really. Yeah. I really appreciate what they did hit their number three. I have to get back to you on that.
All right, we’ll add it in the comments. Okay, and oh, thank you. It was very interesting and enlightening was great, and it was fun having you. Yeah, and I thank you for watching and we’ll be back soon. Thank you. Thank you very much.