[OSGeo-Discuss] Report from the OSGeo Board meeting

Eli Adam EAdam at co.lincoln.or.us
Wed Sep 21 10:43:26 PDT 2011

I thank the Board and all others for discussing this and encourage others to join in.  It sounds like we will all have plenty of opportunity to contribute to the OSGeo vision and tasks.  

Arnulf asked for clarification on something that I wrote, 

>> From paying attention to Board traffic, it was apparent that OSGeo is
>> maturing as an organization and would need to make changes and I
>> suppose that I didn't really get that involved since no changes are
>> easier to react to than significant changes.  It seems that changes
>> like this will require a more clear articulation of a plan than
>> keeping everything the same (which really didn't require any
>> articulation).  
> True. Do you want to say that one good thing of this move was to
> potentially shock the community into action?
>> Sorry for holding you to a higher standard for making
>> changes.
> Not sure what this exactly means, maybe you can explain.

What I meant by this was that when the Board takes little or no major action I require no justification at all.  However, when the Board does take some major action, then I give them 20 questions.  I recognize that it is not fair to hold the Board to a higher standard just because they are making major decisions.  I still wanted the questions answered so I asked the questions anyway even knowing that it was not necessarily fair.  Since I knowingly did something that I thought was not necessarily fair, I apologized.  And once again, thanks to the Board and others for discussing this.  

Best Regards, Eli

>>> On 9/21/2011 at 8:10 AM, in message
<8302E622-D0E2-4E4D-AADE-1E6797399571 at me.com>, Mark Lucas <mlucas17 at me.com>
> Michael's response resonates with me the most so I'll start there (included 
> below).
> I was against this decision and was unsuccessful at convincing others on the 
> board to come around to my point of view.  As the votes came around the table 
> it was obvious the decision had been made - I basically abstained with a 0 
> vote. 
> I feel very strongly that we need an ED to interface with the outside world 
> and stay on top of the day to day operations.  I was on the board when we 
> first established the ED position and secured foundation funding through 
> annual sponsors.  Unfortunately, we have not been able to sustain the annual 
> sponsorship level.  Had we been able to maintain or advance sponsorship we 
> might not be having this conversation.  
> I, and the board, have the utmost respect for Tyler and what he has 
> contributed to our organization.  The professionalism that he has shown since 
> this decision came out of the board should serve as an example to us all.
> In my mind, underlying all of these discussions is financial security and 
> growth.  We need to focus on best use of our available financial resources 
> and we need to grow so we can do more.  We all want to spread out our 
> financial risk so we are not betting the organization on the success of one 
> annual conference.  We want to reach new markets, but we worry if the 
> conference will be a financial success when we go to new uncharted regions.  
> We have begun to discuss regional conferences in additional to the annual 
> international one.
> I believe we can all agree that in terms of development and projects for OSS 
> Geo we are leading the world.
> Where I believe there is much room for improvement is on the business and 
> government side.
> I have been in many one on one discussions with members that feel the OSGeo 
> lacks focus in this area.  Most potential sponsors are going to perform a 
> return on investment (ROI)  before contributing.  As the corporate and 
> government worlds continue to shift towards open source implementations I 
> believe we can present a compelling ROI for strategic sponsorship of OSGeo.  
> I was able to convince RadiantBlue's management to become a platinum sponsor 
> of foss4g based on the shift we are seeing in the government and my case that 
> OSGeo was a world class organization.  I'm therefore more than a little 
> concerned that we don't have core staff. 
> We need to have discussions on where we want to go as an organization.  Do 
> we continue as a federation of projects and primarily just focus on 
> development?  I believe this is our core asset, but think we need to augment 
> it with a focus on business models and help people make livings following our 
> philosophy.
> Finally, I think we have an enormous amount of potential and talent in our 
> organization and on the board.  I think you all can imagine that this 
> decision was a very difficult one.  We are all working together to secure the 
> future for the organization.
> Mark
> On Sep 21, 2011, at 3:59 AM, Michael P. Gerlek wrote:
>> Arnulf and Frank have already spoken up, and I think they've captured the
>> sentiment of Sunday's board decision well.
>> To emphasize three points, if I may:
>> * Our foundation has been financially backed by a small set of donors and
>> the FOSS4G conference.  We have lost ground on former source, and the latter
>> source has proven to be extremely volatile.  From a business standpoint,
>> this is not a sustainable path. The ED has been the single largest financial
>> cost to the foundation, and so given our current funding model, the cost for
>> the functions performed wasn't justified.
>> * I wrote recently that there three kinds of functions needed here:
>> administrative (bookkeeping, answering mail, etc), tactical (project
>> management, sys admin), and strategic (fundraising, outreach).  The first
>> can be done by a mixture of outsourcing and volunteers, and we're already
>> taking steps for that.  The second is done already by very competent
>> volunteers.  The third requires a very specific set of skills we will likely
>> hire or contract out for; in the near term, the board and other non-board
>> volunteers will shoulder this (as they have been doing for years, though
>> often unacknowledged).  This will be an evolving process, of course, and the
>> discussion with the community is now underway.
>> * There is considerable difficulty in discussing personnel matters with the
>> community.  Some board members have discussed these matters with other
>> individuals privately, both proactively and reactively, to consider the
>> foundation's positions and options.  However, those were private
>> discussions: the board cannot discuss personnel issues on a public mailing
>> list.  I'm sure you all can appreciate that.
>> Thanks -
>> -mpg
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