[OSGeo-Discuss] The Yin and Yang of OSGeo

Massimiliano Cannata massimiliano.cannata at supsi.ch
Mon Oct 16 03:23:54 PDT 2017

i'm not a board member but i'd like to answer anyway... :-D

1. OSGeo committees are already empowered to take decision, the board have
to ratify them and eventually, in case ask for revision. This is a normal
structure of control to guarantee the whole community.

2. I think the community is made by person, that interact each others to
build trust and relationships. Without participation and presence in person
one cannot really say he understand the community, so support presence to
strategic events of board members is needed.

3. People can empower them-self, OSGeo is very open and anyone is more then
welcome to give his view and ideas. The main weak point of OSGeo I think is
the community, which is too silent also when a call for opinion is rise.

Cheers, Maxi

2017-10-16 12:11 GMT+02:00 Cameron Shorter <cameron.shorter at gmail.com>:

> OSGeo Board Candidates,
> I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on these ideas. Most pertinently:
> 1. How do you feel about empowering OSGeo committees, avoiding over-riding
> committee decisions in all but exceptional circumstances. (Board members
> can join committees)?
> 2. How do you feel about minimising the perception of board positions
> being considered as a "Honey Pot". Do this by avoiding having  board
> members be expected to attend events which require travel expenses, and
> hence avoid having board members being reimbursed from OSGeo.
> 3. Do you think you can help empower people who think they can positively
> update OSGeo's vision?
> Cheers, Cameron
> On 16/10/17 9:36 am, Cameron Shorter wrote:
> *The 2017 OSGeo Board elections are about to start. Some of us who have
> been involved with OSGeo over the years have collated thoughts about the
> effectiveness of different strategies. Hopefully these thoughts will be
> useful for future boards, and charter members who are about to select board
> members.*
> * The Yin and Yang of OSGeo As with life, there are a number of Yin vs
> Yang questions we are continually trying to balance. Discussions around
> acting as a high or low capital organisation; organising top down vs bottom
> up; populating a board with old wisdom or fresh blood; personal vs
> altruistic motivation; protecting privacy vs public transparency. Let’s
> discuss some of them here. Time vs Money OSGeo is an Open Source
> organisation using a primary currency of volunteer time. We mostly
> self-manage our time via principles of Do-ocracy and Merit-ocracy. This is
> bottom up. However, OSGeo also manages some money. Our board divvies up a
> budget which is allocated down to committees and projects. This is top-down
> command-and-control management. This cross-over between volunteer and
> market economics is a constant point of tension. (For more on the
> cross-over of economies, see Paul Ramsey’s FOSS4G 2017 Keynote,
> http://blog.cleverelephant.ca/2017/08/foss4g-keynote.html
> <http://blog.cleverelephant.ca/2017/08/foss4g-keynote.html>) High or low
> capital organisation? Our 2013 OSGeo Board tackled this question:
> https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Board_:_Board_Priorities_2013#OSGeo_as_a_low_capital.2C_volunteer_focused_organisation
> <https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Board_:_Board_Priorities_2013#OSGeo_as_a_low_capital.2C_volunteer_focused_organisation>
> Should OSGeo act as a high capital or low capital organisation? I.e.,
> should OSGeo dedicate energy to collecting sponsorship and then passing out
> these funds to worthy OSGeo causes. While initially it seems attractive to
> have OSGeo woo sponsors, because we would all love to have more money to
> throw at worthy OSGeo goals, the reality is that chasing money is hard
> work. And someone who can chase OSGeo sponsorship is likely conflicted with
> chasing sponsorship for their particular workplace. So in practice, to be
> effective in chasing sponsorship, OSGeo will probably need to hire someone
> specifically for the role. OSGeo would then need to raise at least enough
> to cover wages, and then quite a bit more if the sponsorship path is to
> create extra value. This high capital path is how the Apache foundation is
> set up, and how LocationTech propose to organise themselves. It is the path
> that OSGeo started following when founded under the umbrella of Autodesk.
> However, as OSGeo has grown, OSGeo has slowly evolved toward a low capital
> volunteer focused organisation. Our overheads are very low, which means we
> waste very little of our volunteer labour and capital on the time consuming
> task of chasing and managing money. Consequently, any money we do receive
> (from conference windfalls or sponsorship) goes a long way - as it doesn't
> get eaten up by high overheads. Size and Titles Within small communities
> influence is based around meritocracy and do-ocracy. Good ideas bubble to
> the top and those who do the work decide what work gets done. Leaders who
> try to pull rank in order to gain influence quickly lose volunteers. Within
> these small communities, a person’s title hold little tradable value.
> However, our OSGeo community has grown very large, upward of tens of
> thousands of people. At this size, we often can’t use our personal
> relationships to assess reputation and trust. Instead we need to rely on
> other cues, such as titles and allocated positions of power. Consider also
> that OSGeo projects have become widely adopted. As such, knowledge and
> influence within an OSGeo community has become a valuable commodity. It
> helps land a job; secure a speaking slot at a conference; or get an
> academic paper published. This introduces a commercial dynamic into our
> volunteer power structures: - A title is sometimes awarded to a dedicated
> volunteer, hoping that it can be traded for value within the commercial
> economy. (In practice, deriving value from a title is much harder than it
> sounds). - There are both altruistic and personal reasons for someone to
> obtain a title. A title can be used to improve the effectiveness of the
> volunteer; or to improve the volunteers financial opportunities. - This can
> prompt questions of a volunteer’s motivations. In response to this, over
> the years we have seen a gradual change to position of roles within the
> OSGeo community. Top-down vs bottom-up OSGeo board candidates have been
> asked for their “vision”, and “what they would like to change or
> introduce”. https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Election_2017_Candidate_Manifestos
> <https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Election_2017_Candidate_Manifestos>  These are
> valid questions if OSGeo were run as a command-and-control top-down
> hierarchy; if board made decisions were delegated to OSGeo committees to
> implement. But OSGeo is bottom-up. Boards which attempt to centralise
> control and delegate tasks cause resentment and disengagement amongst
> volunteers. Likewise, communities who try to delegate tasks to their
> leaders merely burn out their leaders. Both are ignoring the principles of
> Do-ocracy and Merit-ocracy. So ironically, boards which do less are often
> helping more. Darwinian evolution means that only awesome ideas and
> inspiring leaders attract volunteer attention - and that is a good thing.
> Recognising ineffective control attempts How do you recognise ineffective
> command-and-control techniques within a volunteer community? Look for
> statements such as: - “The XXX committee needs to do YYY…” - “Why isn’t
> anyone helping us do …?” - “The XXX community hasn’t completed YYY
> requirements - we need to tell them to implement ZZZ” If all the ideas from
> an organisation come from management, then management isn’t listening to
> their team. Power to the people In most cases the board should keep out of
> the way of OSGeo communities. Only in exceptional circumstances should a
> board override volunteer initiatives. Decisions and power within OSGeo
> should be moved back into OSGeo committees, chapters and projects. This
> empowers our community, and motivates volunteers wishing to scratch an
> itch. We do want our board members to be enlightened, motivated and engaged
> within OSGeo. This active engagement should be done within OSGeo
> communities: partaking, facilitating or mentoring as required. A recent
> example of this was Jody Garnett’s active involvement with OSGeo rebranding
> - where he worked with others within the OSGeo marketing committee.
> Democratising key decisions While we have a charter membership of nearly
> 400 who are tasked with ‘protecting’ the principles of the foundation and
> voting for new charter members and the board. Beyond this, charter members
> have had little way of engaging with the board to influence the direction
> of OSGeo. How can we balance the signal-to-noise ratio such that we can
> achieve effective membership engagement with the board without overwhelming
> ourselves with chatter? Currently we have no formal or prescribed processes
> for such consultation. Reimbursement OSGeo Board members are not paid for
> their services. However, they are regularly invited to partake in
> activities such as presenting at conferences or participating in meetings
> with other organisations. These are typically beneficial to both OSGeo and
> the leader’s reputation or personal interest. To avoid OSGeo Board
> membership being seen as a “Honey Pot”, and for the Board to maintain trust
> and integrity, OSGeo board members should refuse payment from OSGeo for
> partaking in such activities. (There is nothing wrong with accepting
> payment from another organisation, such as the conference organisers.) In
> response to the question of conferences, OSGeo has previously created OSGeo
> Advocates - an extensive list of local volunteers from around the world
> willing to talk about OSGeo. https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Advocate
> <https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/OSGeo_Advocate> Old vs new Should we populate
> our board with old wisdom or encourage fresh blood and new ideas? We
> ideally want a bit of both, bring wisdom from the past, but also spreading
> the opportunity of leadership across our membership. We should avoid
> leadership becoming an exclusive “boys club” without active community
> involvement, and possibly should consider maximum terms for board members.
> If our leadership follow a “hands off oversight role”, then past leaders
> can still play influential roles within OSGeo’s subcommittees. Vision for
> OSGeo 2.0 Prior OSGeo thought leaders have suggested it’s time to grow from
> OSGeo 1.0 to OSGeo 2.0. Update our vision and mission.  A few of those
> ideas have fed into OSGeo’s website revamp currently underway. This has
> been a good start, but there is still room to acknowledge that much has
> changed since OSGeo was born a decade ago, and there are plenty of
> opportunities to positively redefine ourselves. A test of OSGeo’s
> effectiveness is to see how well community ideas are embraced and taken
> through to implementation. This is a challenge that I hope will attract new
> energy and new ideas from a new OSGeo generation. Here are a few well
> considered ideas that have been presented to date that we can start from: -
> Michael Gerlek July 2015, “We won. It's time for OSGeo 2.0”,
> https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-July/014521.html
> <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-July/014521.html> - Darrell
> Fuhriman: September 2015, “OSGeo is becoming irrelevant. Here's why. Let's
> fix it.”
> https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-September/032616.html
> <https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-September/032616.html> -
> Marc Vloemans, March 2014, OSGeo Marketing Analysis,
> https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Talk:Marketing_Committee
> <https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Talk:Marketing_Committee> - OSGeo Board of
> 2013, “OSGeo Board Priorities”,
> http://cameronshorter.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/osgeo-board-priorities.html
> <http://cameronshorter.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/osgeo-board-priorities.html>
> - (There are a few more which I haven’t located - please do suggest them).
> Recommendations So where does this leave us. - Let’s recognise that OSGeo
> is an Open Source community, and we organise ourselves best with bottom-up
> Meritocracy and Do-ocracy. - Wherever possible, decisions should be made at
> the committee, chapter or project level, with the board merely providing
> hands-off oversight. This empowers and enables our sub-communities. - Let’s
> identify strategic topics where the OSGeo board would benefit from
> consultation with charter membership and work out how this could be
> accomplished efficiently and effectively. - Let’s embrace and encourage new
> blood into our leadership ranks, while retaining access to our wise old
> white beards.   - The one top-down task for the board is based around
> allocation of OSGeo’s (minimal) budget. --  Cameron Shorter Open
> Technologies Consultant Geospatial & Software Architect Information
> Demystifier M +61 (0) 419 142 254 http://shorter.net <http://shorter.net> *
> --
> Cameron Shorter
> Open Technologies Consultant
> Geospatial & Software Architect
> Information Demystifier
> M +61 (0) 419 142 254http://shorter.net
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.osgeo.org
> https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

*Massimiliano Cannata*

Professore SUPSI in ingegneria Geomatica

Responsabile settore Geomatica

Istituto scienze della Terra

Dipartimento ambiente costruzione e design

Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana

Campus Trevano, CH - 6952 Canobbio

Tel. +41 (0)58 666 62 14

Fax +41 (0)58 666 62 09

massimiliano.cannata at supsi.ch

*www.supsi.ch/ist <http://www.supsi.ch/ist>*
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