[OpenStack Foundation] is 'strategic' the right name? (was Re: Foundation Structure: An Alternative)

Dave Neary dave at neary-consulting.com
Tue Mar 13 10:37:25 UTC 2012


On 03/09/2012 11:45 PM, Stefano Maffulli wrote:
> On Fri, 2012-03-09 at 16:27 -0600, Mark Collier wrote:
>> Associate Member category, [...]
>> Strategic Member [...]
> I wonder if calling 'Strategic' members that basically only have more
> money but the same responsibilities and rights of other members is
> really the best thing to do. It made sense when we had only two kinds
> (corporate and individuals) and corporate members where called to put
> money down to create the foundation. That was a strategic role.

I agree with you Stefano. I suggested moving away from "strategic 
members" as a name previously, because it includes an implicit value 
judgement - "OpenStack is important to these people (and, by 
implication, not so much to others)" - I don't know whether there is a 
specific reason for sticking with that label rather than something like 
gold/platinum member, which other organisations use.

Incidentally, I still think that starting from the question "what will 
the foundation do, and how much will that cost?" is useful, and will 
help resolve some of the questions around the composition of the board.

My suggestion is to start by drawing up a charter of the foundation 
describing its scope, and a job description/budget for an executive 
director. In my opinion, it doesn't make sense to say "The foundation 
will have 6 full time resources, working on X, Y and Z" before you have 
an executive director in place - that person would then, ideally, put 
together a budget proposal and recs for hires of the people they would 
need to accomplish the foundation's mission - and such a proposal would 
need approval by the board.

As one example: the OuterCurve Foundation has 2 full time employees (an 
executive director and a technical director) and outsources all of their 
administrative, legal, financial and marketing services. They're 
basically spending the equivalent of one full-time person for 4 
different functions. When they have a longer-term need, and the budget 
to pay for it, they will hire people in at that point.

On the board size issue, I'll once again point people to the Linux 
Foundation's solution to the problem: a number of seats per membership 
level, including some seats named from the TAB and elected by individual 
members. This gives individual members some (representative) oversight 
into the financial running of the foundation, and importantly, a voice 
at the table for strategic decisions which could affect the Linux 
developer community, but honestly, the running of the Linux Foundation 
affects very little the running of the kernel project (except when they 
decide to hire kernel hackers as "fellows").

I do understand what Joshua is saying - it would not be good to have Big 
Players who get to railroad all the strategic decisions of the 
foundation and potentially (a) take the foundation in a direction which 
is not what the technical contributors want, essentially making it 
irrelevant, or (b) having excessive influence on the direction of the 
member projects with potentially damaging results. What I suggested was 
a model based on 3 thirds: the Big Guys pay money and get a guaranteed 
board seat, the next level down pay less money and run elections for a 
third of the board seats, and individual members (by whatever criteria 
is judged appropriate) elect another third of the board. That seems to 
address most of the concerns.

In terms of the level playing field, I'd suggest that the board 
shouldn't be on the field in the first place. But I know that a number 
of people think that's idealistic of me :)

One thing I would like to say is that having in-person meetings to 
resolve debates like this is a Very Bad Idea. That is one way that the 
organisation end up leaning towards the big members who can send someone 
to such meetings at short notice or a small constituency of people who 
live in the same geographic area. It might take longer and be more 
painful, but I'd urge you to keep the debate online - and even to avoid 
real-time debate where possible.


Dave Neary
Neary Consulting - http://www.neary-consulting.com
Tel: +33 982 382 735
Cell: +33 677 019 213

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