When We Said OLPC Should Act Like A Tech Company, We Didn't Mean Microsoft

from the bureaucracy dept

In the latest blow to the OLPC project, the organization’s security chief, Ivan Krstić, has resigned over philosophical disagreements with the organization’s direction. The nub of the dispute seems to be chairman Nicholas Negroponte’s belief that now that it’s out of its startup phase, the project needs to be run “more like Microsoft.” Krstić complains that the organization’s previous president, Walter Bender, was demoted, and Krstić was asked to report to “a manager with no technical or engineering background who was put in charge of all OLPC technology.” Now as we’ve said before, it’s healthy that the OLPC organization is beginning to realize that they face many of the same challenges as for-profit technology companies, and might be more successful if it adopted some of their methods. But bringing in non-technologists for senior leadership positions and adopting a rigidly hierarchical org chart might be taking things a little too far. Culture matters in technology companies, and it probably matters even more in an organization like OLPC that depends on having employees willing to go above and beyond the call of duty for relatively modest pay. More orderly management is a good thing, but not if you cause your best people to jump ship in the process.

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Comments on “When We Said OLPC Should Act Like A Tech Company, We Didn't Mean Microsoft”

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Hellsvilla (user link) says:

There's that foundation again...

The foundation of the company is charity. Nicholas is trying to change the very foundation of the company, and is watching the walls shake and start falling. He doesn’t understand why, because he doesn’t even realize just what OLPC means to its own employees.

Or perhaps its the employees who don’t understand that OLPC was never about charity to Nicholas at all. Maybe to him it was always about finding a highly profitable niche.

We won’t know until Negroponte himself resigns. (which should be soon…)

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