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Coordinating Innovation within Open Source Platforms -The Symbian Foundation Case-

11 Jun

The Symbian foundation was designed primarily to accelerate innovation of the Symbian Platform, enabling greater services and applications by promoting collaboration, technology contributions and active participation of both firm members and developers. Members created the Symbian Foundation to manage the complex interoganizational relationships (184 companies) and once in place the Symbian Foundation not just coordinated all the actors but promoted the complexity of the platform by negotiating the inclusion
of more members to the platform.
The founding members delegated coordination responsibilities to the Foundation, giving the authority to the Symbian Foundation to develop the meanings to achieve coordination. The founding members had no more authority on the platform release process, rather the platform shifted to a democratic process settled by the Foundation. The Symbian Foundation promoted virtual forms of organization by creating “Working Groups”. These groups are created by the councils to delegate work to a focused group
with the time and skills to carry the task. In addition to the Symbian Foundation, the developers’ community and the “Working Groups” it was found “Autonomous Groups” that pursue the ultimate goal of the Symbian Foundation but not the method. These autonomous groups do not participate in the process of new platform generation neither responds to specific mandates from any of the councils, however, they are linked to the Symbian Foundation vision of accelerating innovation.
The platform release process is the process developed and established by the Symbian Foundation to link all the different actors, from developers, members, councils and Symbian Foundation’s specialists to create the new version of the Symbian Platform. It is in this process that the vision and main goal of the firms to create the Symbian Foundation happens the synchronized collaboration of pooled resources to create and innovate the Symbian Platform.

The Symbian Platform uses a variety of legal documents such as the member contribution agreement, membership rules, behavior guidelines, licensees and deed of adherence. These documents have as goal the adherence of members to expected behaviors that reduces uncertainty, roles definition and it makes interactions among members predictable. The main formal coordination for the Symbian Platform is the platform roadmap, because in it all of the proposals of the members are reflected in one single document that serves as common goal. All the members of the platform can see the direction of the evolution of the Symbian platform and relate their tasks to the achievement of this common goal. In Symbian Platform ICT is a strong binding mechanism that increased the level of interaction, participation and coordination across the Symbian Platform. ICT allowed the Symbian Foundation to run its coordination processes and coordination mechanisms online and by doing so increased the level of participation, trust and accelerate the outcomes. Informal coordination mechanisms relied in the online forums and the different websites of theFoundation. Moreover, ICT worked as information storage center for all the actors, and it is used as means for controlling and monitoring the development of the platform.

In the Symbian Platform coordination was achieved through the creation of an institution, this institution in turn developed a process that links all the actors to pool knowledge and resources in order to create the platform. The Foundation heavily relied in ICT to implement a set of formal and informal coordination mechanisms to assure participation, behaviors and the vision of a common goal. In addition to this it was found the Symbian Foundation is increasingly promoting the self-coordination of the members by supporting the creation of autonomous groups.

Jesus Mascareno / Imran Moyhuddin

jesus.mascareno@innovationbeats.com