Re: Question to candidates - Minutes of the board meeting

Hi Max,

Sorry for my late response, however as I have never held a board seat before I do not have the experience to comment either way on the timing of the release of board meeting minutes.

With that said and after reading the prior responses, my personal preference is to be as quick as is possible in releasing the minutes while the conversations and points are fresh in our minds. I have found that the longer things sit, the more likely they are to fall by the wayside, and the Foundation members deserve to have a timely and transparent board of directors.

I hesitate to promise anything as far as a time table commitment, as it would not be up to me alone when the minutes are released, and without having personally experienced these board meeting structure, promising anything of the sort would, in my opinion, be irresponsible. I can say that the best of my ability I will see that the meeting minutes are made public as timely and efficiently as is reasonable. I am also happy to revisit the conversation once the board is elected to see if as a team we can agree on a reasonable timetable.


-Britt Yazel

On Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 4:13 AM Max via foundation-list <foundation-list gnome org> wrote:
Hi Robert

Thanks for reply my question again.
We could have many information when we see the reply.
Just like my last mail -- the list could be "Answer" or "Not Answer", "Date" or "None"

I just check the foundation-list gnome org mail list last year( 2018 ).  " There is no question to board candidates "
At 2017, only 1 question to board candidates.

I just explain why I do that -- If there is no reply from candidates -- We just have their bio :p


On Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 6:48 PM Robert McQueen <ramcq gnome org> wrote:
Hi Max,

On Wed, 2019-06-05 at 09:26 +0800, Max via foundation-list wrote:
We are all volunteer  live in different time zone, we have real job and life.  So we will do community task at rest time of real life.
It's good to do community task in reasonable time.
I think ask question to candidates during the election time -- we might be see how busy they are in real life.
To guess how much time the candidates could spend on community  tasks.
If someone is real great but he / she is 100% or 90% busy in real life, she / he might be have no time to help.

Serving on the board is a form of volunteering your time to help the GNOME community. It comes with specific and quite predictable time commitments in terms of the board meetings, e-mails, etc that being a board member entails - usually around 2 hours a week, and usually at the same time each week. As Carlos points out, these are rarely urgent. The board has actually been trying to take a more "hands off" role - focusing on oversight, strategy, etc rather than day to day or urgent decisions. The Foundation now has 7 full-time staff and they should be able to dedicate far more time and be more responsive.

So - provided the board candidate is able to dedicate these specific times, I don't think response time or availability to volunteer for additional things should necessarily be considered while assessing board candidates for election - if someone isn't available to volunteer for community tasks that doesn't mean they will be a bad board member. I hope in my case the opposite is true - I am very busy in my personal and professional life because I am on the leadership team of Endless, a company that works with GNOME - but this means I have experience as a director/executive which I think I can use to help the Foundation board set a good strategy and sensible policies, manage it's resources well, manage the ED, etc. Whether a board member takes on additional community/volunteering tasks (eg organising a conference, joining a committee, being an officer like secretary or treasurer, etc) is a separate decision. (I personally don't have a lot /more/ time to give, but when I do I choose to spend it on Flatpak/Flathub because I think the app ecosystem is a blocker to the Linux desktop's overall growth and impact.)


The date is for UTC +08:00 in my  local time.

* Philip Chimento: 2019/6/4
* Christel Dahlskjaer: 2019/6/4
* Benjamin Berg: 2019/6/4
* Allan Day: 2019/6/4
* Tristan Van Berkom: 2019/6/4
* Carlos Soriano: 2019/6/4
* Robert McQueen: 2019/6/5

* Britt Yazel
* Niels De Graef
* Federico Mena Quintero
* Christopher Davis

On Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 4:55 AM Robert McQueen <ramcq gnome org> wrote:
Hi Max,

For what it's worth - I agree very strongly with Carlos here. The community seems very "latched on" to minutes as the only/best way to hear from or understand the board. I believe that on the whole Philip and Federico as Secretary and Vice-Secretary have been doing as good a job as could reasonably be expected of them, in terms of keeping the process running and making sure the minutes happen and are published within weeks rather than months. It's certainly as good or as close to as good as I've seen it during the past few years, and as a time-starved collection of volunteers, I don't think it's feasible for an incoming director to promise that the preparation of minutes will change significantly.

That said; we hear the concerns about timeliness and transparency but really - poring over summarised board minutes looking for decisions (or conspiriacies) and second-guessing justifications/motivations is not a good way to build trust and transparency. Communication should be more intentional and directed, ideally the board should be more accessible. This is why I blogged about the key topics and things we were aiming to do from our hackfest last year.

I think that Carlos' GitLab and Discourse suggestions are great, and maybe there are some other things we could consider - some round table / AMA things - so that the board is in discussion with the membership more frequently than the big Q&A "meet the new board" at GUADEC. At this exact time, the new board don't really know what they're doing (or about to do) - at least I certainly didn't - so you might get intentions/aspirations but very little insight into what is actually ongoing and why.

(As a side point, I am also not used to the concept that a board or other panel would /not/ periodically approve it's previous minutes - but I would also not expect a board to ordinarily meet every two weeks. We've moved from weekly to bi-weekly meetings during this board term, which is great, but ideally as we build trust/process/oversight in the ED and staff, the board should ideally have to meet less often.)

As the staff team grows, more of the "stuff the foundation does" should move away from the board making micro-decisions, and more towards "business as usual" for the staff. Then the reporting and transparency requirement moves from the board to the staff - especially as they are (by their very existence) consuming donor funds. So I feel this transparency is also very important. As the ED line manager, I think we've made some progress during this term and have converted some of Neil's reporting to the board into eg a blog post visible to the community, but clearer and more frequent updates on "what is the foundation doing" particularly through the activities of staff is something I would hope to be able to continue working on with Neil and his team over the coming year.


On Tue, 2019-06-04 at 22:22 +0200, Carlos Soriano wrote:
Hi Max,

Thanks for your question. You raise a very good point, I agree with you that we need to improve participation of the community on board topics, and it's specially difficult if the information is delayed for too long.

This is indeed a difficult situation. Some topics that the board discusses are quite sensible, and sometimes we are in doubt whether parts of it are private or not, so that requires consensus and therefore delays happen. As you can imagine, we rely on volunteer time to discuss and process them, and the availability of each director and secretaries is limited. In all honesty, while this can always be improved with our current processes, I think Philip Chimento and Federico made an excellent job with minutes.

However, let me comment about the lack of participation. I think one of the reasons is that minutes are simply not the best tool for this. Minutes feel to me too much of a one way communication, and on top of that they are over email, which is not the most encouraging tool to manage and track discussions. They are good for keeping a record, but not so good for much else. Improving this situation was one of the reasons we moved our key conversations to GitLab issues, so community members could closely follow them and chime in directly if wanted.

My vision to encourage more participation would be around using more tooling such as GitLab and Discourse for board discussions, and on top of that, keep pushing on our goal to put as early as possible key initiatives there to allow members to actually participate. I believe we have a big room to improve, specially with initiatives that are not time sensible.

Lastly, an interesting idea I think we could do is a round of questions to the membership to know what topics they were interested in and that we could have done better with their minutes. Although I believe the board is always open to feedback, I personally look forward to know about those.

Carlos Soriano

On Tue, 4 Jun 2019 at 02:43, Max via foundation-list <foundation-list gnome org> wrote:
Hi all,

Thanks for running for the board.

Thanks everyone who want take times to make GNOME better.
Just a simple question about Minutes of the board meeting.

Data and information might be different.
For me - a GNOME foundation member

Data - Get "Minutes of the board meeting" after 1 month or 2 weeks after.
---- Because maybe the event is already close or over.

Information - Get "Minutes of the board meeting" in 1 week or 10 days. 
---- Because something might be happening and everyone could discuss with board and reply.

====  Here is the question ====

Could you promise to think a way --- Everyone get "Minutes of the board meeting" in a very close time?

Here is my suggestion.
Maybe there will be a table to record the "Minutes of the board meeting" announcement time and does it announce in short time?

| board meeting  |  Minutes            |   in 10 days ?                      |
| 2019/4/29          |   2019/5/22        |      No                                |
| 2019/4/8           |   2019/5/15        |      No                                 |
| 2019/3/13           |   2019/5/15        |      No                               |

Maybe it could be a record in GNOME annual report?
---- There are  ? % for Minutes of the board meeting on time to announce.

I want to say --- It not just secretary task, It's the information we want to get from all GNOME Board member.

Thanks again for all who take time to running the board


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