Nobody Really Owns Product Work and That’s Ok

Jonas Downey at Basecamp writes:

Somewhere along the line I realized and accepted the truth: nobody really owns anything in a product made by a team.

Whatever ownership you have over an individual contribution is immediately forfeited the moment you commit the code. At that moment, the work becomes part of the ever-evolving organism that comprises a software system.

Each piece of work is a mere pebble tossed into a flowing river. Maybe your pebble will become bedrock—sticking around for a long time and altering the water’s trajectory. Or, maybe it’ll quickly dissolve into dust when new pebbles come along and crash into it. Both of those outcomes are completely natural and worthy of celebration.

I’m in total agreement with Jonas (@jonasdowney) here. If your work consists of your committing code to a repository, you’ve probably run into the resistance of making a Pull Request for something that you are not the owner of. Resistance to merging your commits can be a drag, slowing down work and progress. But, in organizations that embrace the philosophy that nobody really owns product work, it can be freeing and everyone walks away feeling collaborative.

That’s how work gets done 👏 PR’ing across your teams/tribes/chapters (or whatever) should be the norm anyways, we’re all in the same boat together. We’re all accountable. We’re all equal.


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