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Sumana Harihareswara

Sumana Harihareswara
Sumana Harihareswara
Project manager consultant and founder
Changeset Consulting
Cadence shear: Managing rhythm and tempo mismatches in participation
2:30 PM - 3:00 PM EST

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.

About Sumana Harihareswara
Sumana Harihareswara is a project manager, programmer, and trainer who leads a consultancy working with open source software projects and maintainers. She led the rollout of the next-generation PyPI.org and pip resolver, and has worked on HTTPS Everywhere, Autoconf, Mailman, MediaWiki, and several other open source projects across industry, academia, nonprofits, and volunteer settings. She works with the Secure Systems Lab at New York University on securing the software supply chain in Python, and is a member of the Python Software Foundation's Packaging Working Group. She is writing a book on rejuvenating and managing legacy open source projects, and teaches workshops in maintainership skills. She earned an Open Source Citizen Award in 2011 and a Google Open Source Peer Bonus in 2018. She lives in New York City and founded Changeset Consulting in 2015.