Re: Reducing the board size

On Thu, 2005-09-15 at 22:53 +1200, Glynn Foster wrote: 

> On Thu, 2005-09-15 at 08:20 +0200, Murray Cumming wrote:
> > I'm also in favour of reducing the board size to 7. It recognizes the
> > reality of how we work. That way of working is very good for lots of
> > other parts of GNOME, but the board is fundamentally meant to be
> > decisive.
> Me too. For the 2 years I sat on the board, I think having fewer people
> would definitely have been a good thing. I can't count the number of
> times we've all more or less agreed, but no one was willing to step in
> and take responsibility for seeing it through. Reducing the numbers will
> ultimately help that I believe.

In my opinion it is not the size of the board that is the problem- nor
is it the by- laws. They have foreseen a normal voting procedure where
is is not clear that everybody are in agreement.

The problem in my view is the decision making process on the board.

A certain subject should ideally be prepared by a sub- committee or
group of persons appointed by the board, then send out in a hearing
procedure on the Foundation-List to get a picture of the opinions and
view points of the members.

Then when the limited hearing period is over the matter should be put on
the agenda for the next board meeting in order for the board to conclude
and make it's decision.

By the way does the board have an agenda for each meeting? I have never
seen one! I miss this tool.

Only doing "Action point's" are suggesting that only the board members
are expected to do the work themselves. This does not give other
Foundation members much chance to give a helping hand if they want to
and have the expertise.

Points of importance for the future of the Foundation should not be
decided with 6 votes in favour and 5 against.

I think we should leave the number of board members as it is for now.

The size of the board is very important because there will be less room
for variety and representation of persons with different kinds of
skills- if we decide to reduce the size of the board.

People with too much time on there hands could be dangerous to the
community and to the future and the direction of the GNOME Foundation,
as they tend to think that there personal opinion is important on all
matters and every tiny detail. (We have seen the same four board members
express there opinions time and time again. This does not mean that
others agree with the guys that writes the most- but it tells us that
there are a lack of regular voting going on during board meetings. This
gives outsiders the impression that the ship is sailing without a proper
direction. It is not good for a successful and growing organisation like

I find it important that persons stick to the areas of there special
expertise. If this is developing code maybe they should concentrate on
this- and leave some things to people with expertise in other matters-
where they are the best suited. (One does not have to have or air an
opinion on every single matter- or for that matter sit and control the
work of the others all the time. Marketing, conference planning and fund
raising are quite different from writing code.) 

Being good at coding does not necessarily mean that these same persons
who write code or fix bugs are good at community building, organisation,
marketing, fund raising etc. or even at giving presentations- please
leave these functions to those who are.

You do not need to go bug hunting in these areas - please use this skill
to code and its functionalities. Trust that others that are asked and
invited to be in on a certain project are capable of doing what they are
asked to do- until otherwise pr oven.

About the consensus principle:

It also seems to me that people have different definitions of the
consensus principle.

Some people think that this mean unanimously decisions, and that one
person can block a decision.

Also in the past I have been missing a record of the actual votes - if
there has been any on the board?

In order to be able to judge if one would like to re- elect a specific
member to sit on the next board - I would like to see who voted in
favour and who voted against and who abstained- every time there has
been a vote on the board.

What we need is more transparency. Board members should take
responsibility for there actions.

I also do not think that the board should carry out all the work

It would be nice if the board consisted of experienced persons with
knowledge of how to do fund raising for important tasks and projects and
travel assistance when needed.

I would like to see board members with experience from board work in
business or other "normal organisations".

If GNOME Foundation had been a private company I would have asked for a
re-election of the board after the last Foundation Member Meeting during
GUADEC in Stuttgart where there seemed to be 10 members of the board
present representing some 14 different opinions. 

In which direction shall the mother ship sail???

Seen from outside is was clear that the board has no clear direction to
show us members the way- and we do ask for clear guidelines and good
examples and practises to follow.

If we want to look for good examples we have to look to the many
projects within the GNOME project that are just doing business as usual
and releasing new versions of GNOME etc. Heartfelt thanks to them. You
are doing a great job for the community! 

> I guess it all hinges on whether you think the board should be a fast or
> slow moving entity. I personally think that 7 is more than enough, if
> you have a good mixture of people representing the project, eager to be
> there, sensible enough and willing to execute rather than continually
> holding back.

I think that the board should take enough time depending on the matter
but not be lame.

I also agree with Glynn that to get more ideas and new kinds of persons
joining the work we need a good mixture of people representing the
project, eager to be there, sensible enough and willing to execute
rather than continually holding back.

Even very busy persons have enough time to help stick out healthy, clear
and sustainable guidelines for the future of a rapidly growing GNOME

New comers like to be greeted by a well functioning, including and
welcoming community where one immediately feels than there is enough
room for many more to come and where there is time to help and assist
them to find there own favourite place in the GNOME family.

Anne Østergaard <anne oestergaard nu>

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