[foundation-board] project coordinator role - just want to set down the reasons i'm unhappy about it.

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Sun Oct 3 10:38:40 UTC 2010

On 1 October 2010 19:13, Jo Walsh <metazool at gmail.com> wrote:
> I've been mostly avoiding email this week, the subject lines have kind of
> flown by. I was surprised to see this publicly appear, so quickly, without
> agreement from the whole of the Foundation board.
> http://blog.okfn.org/2010/10/01/okf-is-hiring-could-you-be-the-person-were-looking-for/

I'm sure Becky may want to respond here as well as she was responsible
for this item but for my part:

Jo, I'm sorry you feel you weren't consulted our that there wasn't
agreement from the whole board. The matter was discussed (including
your points) at the last board meeting (I sent link to draft minutes
to this list in response to your request back on the 18th -- I hope it
came through ok). Becky then sent a revised draft on the 22nd. Various
people responded with various (minor) comments or assent and I think
she, reasonably, assumed that people who had not responded were
implicitly assenting. She then announced in an email that everything
was good to go and she planned to post.

In general we don't have a process where we require *explicit* assent
from the Board on these matters (because not everyone is always around
checking mail), and especially where one or two board members have
been given the task of doing something. If this is a problem, perhaps
in future board members can flag issues as requiring explicit assent
(at least from them).

> You could call this meeting in the middle, if you were feeling very
> charitable. I have shut up about this because i see it as important to fix
> OKF's management problems immediately, and if i can't get any mindshare here
> i should back down rather than stall the process.
> However there are still quite a few ways in which i'm unhappy about this.
> Why not write them down for a bit of posterity.
> - I would have removed all the references to the Coordination Group - coord
> is an illusion that may be comforting to you, but is not to me.

I don't feel this :) but this sounds like a separate thread :)

> - I would also remove the rhetoric about quarterly reports to the Board,
> etc. Makes it seem like OKF is a hierarchically run, centrally controlled,
> secretively managed organisation. Doesn't it?

I'm not sure but this is precisely what I thought this was one of the
things discussed and proposed about the PC's role at the f2f meeting
in August. It is one of the crucial reasons we need a paid member of
staff here to guarantee regular reporting to the board, especially in
relation to funded projects.

> - I think the list of skills etc at the end is at least half-irrelevant.
> Financial management, fundraising, etc should be in the hands of specialists
> or pure administrators. This raises my hackles, makes it look like this is a
> stealth hire of an ED.
> - This is probably ego, but given the amount of energy i've put in to
> thinking about this, making task lists to try to assess priorities,
> needs-driven rather than role-driven planning etc, a phone call or a quick
> Skype message to me before posting online would have been polite?

I don't think anyone was specifically notified before posting :) As I
said above Becky had mailed this to the list and received a round of
minor feedback -- and, at least from my end, this process was fine.

> Please tell me:
> * What it is the rest of the board have agreed as a pay range for successful
> person

I believe we haven't agreed the exact figure as yet but on a basic
2-day a week position I think we would be looking between 10-20k.

> * Where there is a summary of how this is cost-justified, e.g. can we afford
> it and for how long.

It was my understanding (and I believe other board members share this
view but I may be wrong), that given the accumulated funds (e.g. see
financial statement prepared for last board meeting) we now have we
have the resources to appoint this person.

> In conclusion. I am seriously here. I have decided i am not going to flounce
> off over this. Because i want to be on the inside pissing out, and the
> outside pissing in, both at the same time. It might get splashy.

Indeed :)

> I should probably consider resigning as Coord Group chair, lest i get more
> voice-only accusations from Jonny and Rufus of causing or creating bad
> vibes, alienating people, saying tactless things on different lists.

Since I'm explicitly named here :) I should respond by saying: I don't
think I have been making 'accusations' but just seeking to chat with
you about the general coord situation. When talking about that kind of
thing I much prefer speaking on the phone (or even better in person)
as bandwidth is so much higher (I would also note that both of us also
can be very busy and not have enough time to deal with all email!).

> I am sick both of being told not to write things down, and of hearing others
> being told not to write things down. I am not happy with the direction in

I think the suggestion was not that things 'not be written down' but
that occasionally things were being written down and sent to public
lists in 'haste'.

> which OKF is going generally. I don't think it's in the power of any one
> person to change that - not a project coordinator, not me - but watch me
> try. If i make you feel uncomfortable, remember that the reasons why are in
> your mind, not in mine.

Yes, please keep trying but also please believe that I, and I don't
think anyone else, is being obstructive or not trying to have things
head in a good direction (though there are sometimes useful
differences of opinion over what is the right direction).

I would note that many (if not all) of the significant actions from
August (and September) board meetings have been or are being acted

We have a list of contracts -- not public as I know you want, but
still an action from August that has been done.
We have new accounting system and VAT sorted.
We are hiring a project coordinator.
We have an official project list (thanks to Mark MacGillivray)
We are having in depth discussions about governance on the board (45m
at the last meeting, several hours in August) and on coord list and,
in future no doubt, on dedicated governance list.
We have a coord group with most working group and project leads on it.
(Set up in last 3-4 months)
We have a network wordpress system with 'membership' support (planned
for 1y+) about to come online ...


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