A champion is an individual that starts an initiative with a determined promise to finish it. The individual generally takes charge of a well-scoped task, and provides clear direction and confidence about completing it. By calling someone a champion, you are placing faith in their ability as a leader and visionary.
What does this mean for development?
While the term champion may inspire mental imagery of soliders and stallions, in the development battle field, champions wear much less flashy armor. A champion might be:
- A team member that proposes a new feature, clearly describes the problem that it solves, and then proceeds to get feedback and create a plan for implementation. The team member them executes, all the while being clear about timeline, goals, and having clear communication.
- An open source contributor who commits to working on a particular component, and proceeds to follow through and becomes a primary maintainer of that component.
- An individual that provides leadership for an under-represented or under-served demographic in the community, and helps to empower that group to have a stronger voice.
When should someone be called a champion?
It may be the case that a contributor doesn't want to be called a champion directly, so it's suggested to use the term in a verb sense. For example, you might say:
This individual has offered to champion this initiative.
which is a different thing than:
This individual is a champion.
The first suggests taking action, which is empowering and positive. The second says something about the character of the individual, which could be unwanted if it places un-needed stress or expectation on the individual.