Chef is a Community Before It’s a Vendor



Back in October, I was frustrated. I had invested deeply into a new feature Chef had made called Policyfiles and had seen it not be adopted. I met in an intense meeting with their product management team trying to figure out exactly how I be able to migrate off of the feature and onto the platform that everyone else was on. I was involved in a typical vendor situation where what I was doing wasn’t aligned with their direction and I was feeling some pain because of it.

Then an unexpected thing happened.

The next day, at Chef Community Summit, a VP at Chef got up in front of everyone and told us to suggest topics. I submitted a policyfiles topic and showed up to the session, surprised by the number of people who attended. I went through the pros and cons of the feature and the feature seemed to resonate with the audience. The same product management team I was working with the day before attended, had a great attidude, listened, were interested and engaged.

It then dawned on me: working with Chef Software Inc. is indeed working with a vendor, but it’s much more than that. Their DNA came about within an open source community, and their value is tied up within a community collaborating to make their product better. So rather than shut me down, they encouraged me. Even when they disagreed with me. I was a member of their community so I could propose whatever I wanted, and if there was a benefit to that community then they were all for it.

So after the Chef Community Summit I wrote some blog posts, went on the Food Fight Show, and answered questions on slack on the #policyfile channel. I also worked with Chef Software Inc. as a customer to make sure they understood how central policyfiles were to our workflow and success with chef.

They listened, they changed their approach, and they even let me talk about it on Wednesday at 2PM at Chef Conf. Almost three years ago, I started down a path of figuring out who we would partner with to change operations for NCR’s Hospitality products. I recognized even then that Chef, Inc. has a different kind of DNA. Yes, there is a sales organization (and they’re great). Yes there are contracts, and we pay money. But the best part of it all is that I’m a part of a larger community that is all pointed in the same direction: we want to change the fundamentals of IT and help traditional businesses make that transformation.

This is a technical problem, a cultural problem, an organizational problem, and I feel so fortunate and blessed to be able to solve it with such a great community of like-minded people.

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