I am extremely excited to announce that Greg Smith has joined OLPC as Product Manager. Greg has been a long-time volunteer. Greg is an experienced project manager previously at Cisco, he gets Constructionism, and he is tireless.
As an OLPC volunteer, he has logged many hours over the last twelve months organizing the wiki, working with the Support Gang, and helping deployments like Nepal prepare for their pilots. And did I mention that he has been an occasional contributor to OLPC News:OLPC wiki.
In an April e-mail to the Developer's mailing list, Greg laid out what I call Greg Smith's Eight Steps to Build Stuff People Need. These steps apply as equally to an open-source project and as a closed-source one.
1. Find a real user ready to communicate and work with you.
2. Line up volunteers and evaluate group skills and time.
3. Discuss with user the key challenges and pick one or two you want to address.
4. Come up with a design proposal and validate with users.
5. Code up a prototype or working example.
6. Run beta test, refine and gather feedback.
7. Deliver code and give great support in the early going.
8. Go back to step 1 or to step 6 and keep at it :-)
If you haven't gotten the point already, Greg excels at making sure a product meets the actual needs of users. For months now I have been calling for OLPC to hire someone to interface between coders, kids, and teachers. OLPC has found the right someone in Greg Smith.