Re: On Boston Summit organization and delegation [was Re: A question to candidates]

On Wed, 2007-11-28 at 05:57 -0500, Behdad Esfahbod wrote:
> On Mon, 2007-11-26 at 12:46 -0500, John (J5) Palmieri wrote:
> > Even if not elected I am an available Boston resident and would
> > be more than happy to help out.
> I'm sure you do, and you alredy showed that by organizing the poub night
> this year.  Thanks for that.  But if you look, I asked for help about
> Boston Summit on the boston-social list as early as June:
> and got no reply.  I mailed at least three Boston residents directly and
> got no reply either.  And I gave up and Jeff ended up doing it all the
> way from Australia.  It was going well until the *reserved venue* got
> canceled...
> The point being, while most of our community is willing to help, more
> often than not the very people that can help most are already overbusy
> with their own schedules and rightfully don't volunteer for new work.
> Many of them do accept it though when asked directly.  That's what we've
> started doing on the board: pick someone we know can do the job and ask
> just him/her.
> That has an inherent limitation though, that we end up getting help from
> those people we know closely.  This is where the main problem with
> delegation in the board is.  Asking on mailing list has its own problems
> too.  Sometimes the cost of delegation ends up exceeding the cost of
> Just Doing It!

I think you have identified why mailing lists just don't work for these
types of tasks - at least without first having critical mass. It also
shows why the board needs to have a more direct relationship with
members.  Mailing lists are great for topics which have a constant
relevance to the reader but if it is a once or few times a year thing
people often forget to check.  Compound this with all the other mailing
lists and the ability to hold a readers attention just dwindles.  

What needs to happen is active lobbying of people at the summits and
gatherings.  Let them know what to look for and people will help out.
Look at GUADEC.  The past years GUADECs have been masterfully managed.
There were hiccups here and there but when we look at it compared to the
Boston Summits we can see the difference.

Part of the issue is the Boston Summit is always in Boston where as
GUADEC can always get fresh enthusiastic teams to help out.  This is
because in order to become a host city for GUADEC you already have to
have a team assembled to make and sell a bid.  This is helped by the
fact that host cities and organizers often see prestige in hosting

However there is an advantage in having a summit in one place every
year.  It allows us to build relationships with venues and people in the
area who might not necessarily be part of the GNOME community but could
be helpful none the less.  We need to start doing that and booking
venues way in advance so that we can announce a definite date at

We also need to bring the prestige back into helping out.  Sometimes
that is a simple thank you or different colored shirts to distinguish
those who went above and beyond the call of duty.  I know for me,
organizing the Beer Summit it was simply the ability to throw a party
that allowed me to overlook the stress of having to do it in a week.
Everyone has their motivations whether it be money, a pat on the back or
recognition from their peers.  We need to figure out what motivates
individuals and excite them to lend a hand.

So to summarize:

1) Advertise in every medium you've got - mailing lists, blogs,
conferences or even cold calling.
2) Get commitments early
3) Organize specific tasks
4) Reward all those who helped out
5) Figure out what worked and what didn't and apply them to the next
event making sure to accept and analyze constructive criticism
John (J5) Palmieri <johnp redhat com>

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