Unlocking Collaboration with InnerSource

Although I spend countless hours working on Codú, I also work at Marsh McLennan, leading their InnerSource efforts globally.

Since I usually get confused glances when I tell people this, I wanted to write a short intro to InnerSource to understand the buzzword.

"InnerWhat?" Demystifying InnerSource

At its core, InnerSource borrows from the open-source world. Imagine bringing the open-source methodology into your company with a pinch of privacy.

It's about using open-source practices and principles inside a company to improve collaboration and break down silos.

It's common in large enterprises for silos to appear as people split off and focus on delivering what's most important to their team. We lose a lot of learning opportunities by not consciously trying to share among teams in a company.

The Motivation: Why InnerSource?

### Break Down Silos Tired of departmental barriers? InnerSource fosters collaboration across teams.

Rapid Innovation

When everyone can contribute, innovation doesn't wait in line.

Shared Responsibility

Distributed ownership means more eyes on code and faster bug fixes.

Skill Development

Work on different projects and learn from the best in your company.

Companies Are Catching On

The InnerSource philosophy is winning hearts.

From startups to big sharks, companies see the intrinsic value. Think reduced duplication, faster iteration, and an overall smarter approach to software development.

Don't believe me?

Check out this huge list of stories from the InnerSource Commons.

InnerSource in Action

Here's the general flow:

  • Documentation: Clear guidelines on how others can contribute.
  • Transparent Process: All discussions, decisions, and code reviews are done openly.
  • Universal Access: Everyone can access the repository, fostering a community feel.
  • Mentorship and Training: Encourage senior developers to guide the less experienced.


InnerSource can face roadblocks:

  • Cultural Shifts: It requires a mindset change from a 'my team' to an 'our code' mentality.
  • Management Buy-In: Convincing higher-ups can be tough, but the benefits are compelling.
  • Initial Friction: Like all changes, it might be bumpy initially, but the ride smoothes out.

Like all new things it's a slow start but it can really accelerate development and innovation when done right.

Embrace Collaboration

Companies that adopt InnerSource don’t just aim to produce better code; they aim to nurture better developers and a more cohesive work environment.

As collaboration tools evolve, the lines between 'inside' and 'outside' get blurrier. InnerSource is the stepping stone to a future where we leverage the collective intelligence of our teams without being hindered by traditional boundaries.

In a nutshell? It's open-source, but inside out. And it's high time companies flipped the switch.

If you're looking to boost collaboration and break down those age-old silos, InnerSource just might be the game-changer you need.

If you've any questions about InnerSource and adopting the practices feel free to reach out and I'll be happy to share where possible.

But the best collection of learning materials is available for free (and Open-Source on the InnerSource Commons website.

They offer free books, patterns and a supportive community so there is no better time to dive in.

If you're ready to embark on the InnerSource journey or if you’ve had experiences you'd like to share, let us know in the comments below!

Happy coding! 🦄

Avatar for Niall Maher

Written by Niall Maher

Founder of Codú - The web developer community! I've worked in nearly every corner of technology businesses; Lead Developer, Software Architect, Product Manager, CTO and now happily a Founder.


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