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The Joomla! Project Should Get On Board With Term Limits for OSM!

31 Oct 2011
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On October 30, 2011, Paul Orwig summarized the next steps for the proposed reorganization of the Joomla! Leadership:

  • Let's discuss and decide if we still want to move forward with the changes that we agreed upon in San Jose as proposed in the blog, or
  • do we want to adopt one of the alternate proposals that came out of the JPeople discussion, or
  • do we want to not make any changes.

Interpretation:

  • Do we go forward and ignore the feedback from the community?
  • Do we adopt one or more of the community's suggestions from J!People?
  • Do we leave things as they stand now?

 I am not surprised that the first option is to ignore the feedback from the community. Given that OSM doesn't even fulfill its current reporting and transparency commitments - commitments its current President Ryan Ozimek made and the previous Treasurer (myself) made, it is not surprising that we see an option to ignore the community feedback that  Paul Orwig only gave lipservice in seeking. It was surprising to see that Jacques Rentzke the nominal Secretary of the Open Source Matters Board made this statement on October 29, 2011: "I'm not sure how the frequency of reporting on financials have anything to do with this thread, but I can confirm that the OSM auto-generated un-audiited financial reports are shared weekly with the OSM list, that includes the Community Oversight Committee (that's mostly made up of members of the PLT and CLT). " Amazing to see that that an officer of the board is acknowledging having the information but still refuses to share it with the community and then to do it with such arrogance.

After they make the above decisions, they then move to step 2:

  • After we decide on a new general structure (either the new structure proposed in the blog or one of the alternate proposals), then let's discuss and decide about the composition of the transition team and the work they will undertake. We can consider and discuss feedback from the JPeople discussion about the transition team and their work in this step.

Again, an opportunity to ignore feedback from the community on the transition team composition and work.

And finally, Paul lays the whole thing out as follows:

  1. Move forward with the proposed leadership structure changes as summarized in the blog.
  2. Move forward with the proposed leadership structure changes as summarized in the blog, but add an advisory group composed of members from the international community that will help the project be more aware of and responsive to the needs of the international community.
  3. Keep current PLT/CLT/OSM teams unchanged, but broaden CoC's oversight to cover all three current teams.
  4. After major project-wide goals have been defined, go out and recruit industry experts/visionary leaders in the fields that match our major goals, and invite them to join project leadership.
  5. Make no leadership structure changes, but instead define more specifics about roles, responsibilities, processes, and expectations for current leadership teams and working groups.

There is no doubt in that summary that Paul Orwig has revealed his preferences - no consideration given to the community feedback.

There always have been people on the board who didn't like the fact that there was a Community Oversight Team (COT) that could shake up existing members and add new members at will. I suspect this entire effort that started supposedly in the San Jose Summit but more then likely in Skype conferences long before is structured to achieve one end only - an independent board with no restrictions on its members or activities. It looks like no matter what the Joomla! Community might want that there will be no more COT after this decision phase is completed.

Given the above then I would strongly suggest that term limits be instituted for the board no matter what it might be called in the future. Since the board is to be completely restructured, this is an excellent time to implement term limits. Term limits are critical to a board's health because they prevent a single individual or group from monopolizing the spirit of the organization. They ensure that new ideas and approaches are explored - something that's essential to the success of every organization. Everyone is forced off the board eventually. Volunteer boards without term limits have a difficult time asking their friends and colleagues to step down even when their effectiveness slips. Term limits ameliorate this by requiring a member to step down as required by the bylaws. Here's some language that can be used in the new bylaws:

"Each Board Member will serve for a 3-year term. At the end of the first term, there will be an option to renew for another 3-year term if both the board member and the board are happy to continue."

The newly elected board should have three classes of board members -   1/3 of the board is elected for one year, 1/3 of the board is elected for 2 years, and 1/3 of the board is elected for 3 years. When new board members are elected to replace those that have served their term, they will be elected for a full three year term.

Term limits have another benefit. Knowing vacancies will occur regularly, the board must create an ongoing process for identifying prospective members, thus keeping it in touch with changing community and constituency needs.

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David Huelsmann

Dave Huelsmann was Treasurer of Open Source Matters, Inc. from 2008 to July, 2010 and Joomla Forum Global Moderator from 2005 to November, 2010. Now retired, he was a senior healthcare executive who managed large and diverse clinical laboratory, radiology, electroencephalography, and centralized patient transport operations/departments in both not-for-profit and for-profit companies throughout the United States.

Dave was a Navy Corpsman who served in Vietnam while attached to Seabee battalionmcb71
MCB-71.

Read more about Dave Huelsmann

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