Leaks, Drips, and Spills

Is OSM Ever Going To Learn? Tough Lessons May Be The Future.

16 Dec 2011
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I am still trying to figure out how the board of OSM went from wanting to install numerous "liaison's" or committee chairs between the board members and the various committees or teams that the newly installed president of OSM seemed to want back in April of 2010 to the current proposal of incorporating all Joomla! leadership groups within the overarching reach of the OSM structure. Back in April of 2010, Elin Waring attempted to explain that the Core team didn't want to be on committees. They wanted OSM to deal with the business aspects.

Board Meeting Minutes 4/19/2010

2. Liaisons and committees, brainstorming session (Ryan Ozimek)

Elin explains history how Core team each was on a Committee. They now prefer that we deal with OSM business.

I was proposing the possibility of an executive director to conduct the day-to-day business affairs and let the OSM board do what they were supposed to do - financial oversight and policy making.

Board Meeting Minutes 6/21/2010

b. Discussion about feasibility of an OSM Executive Director position (Dave Huelsmann)

Dave raises that matter of the board being more and more involved in Operations, when he sees the role of the board more as direction and strategic planning. He feels that we should consider having a paid Executive Director position. Jacques questions if this would be costly. Elin responds that that does not need to be the case.

Steve feels that it’s part of a bigger question of professionalising the board.

Elin feels that problematic that the board is involved in operations, instead of planning, financial oversight. Robert feels that the board should be able to decide what it wants to be involved in. Elin responds that the board role in a non-profit is strictly fiduciary and oversight, and not operational, but that it’s typical of younger organization. We need to separate the role of oversight and doing, since you cannot do both at the same time.

Elin concludes that this is part of a bigger strategic discussion.

Dave adds that money is not initially necessarily an issue where a person volunteers, and grows in the position. Javier feels that since it’s about strategy, we should first think about that, and then think about the money after that. He also suggests that board members search for different models that we can use.

So, there we were in June of 2010, starting a pretty good strategic discussion about where the board ought to be focused and what organizational changes might be best. So what happened? According to the minutes, nothing happened for a year. And, then in June of 2011 - exactly one year later with no active discussion among the board members that can be found in the minutes (now almost a completely new board from the year previous):

Board Meeting Minutes 6/21/2011

b. Considering next steps for OSM organizational structure

The idea is to begin to move away from having solely a working board structure, to a board of directors that provides oversight to a volunteer working staff. This can be discussed further at the OSM summit. Perhaps Sandy can provide some insight from other organizations. From a historical perspective, James says that this is quite common, and most organizations that move beyond a certain point make this shift. Most projects don't just add new board members as they need volunteers - the board is responsible for an entire organization, not just one task per person.

Whew, here  a suggestion is dumped on the board after a year of silence on the subject and proposing to discuss it in informal meetings in San Jose.

The next board meeting has a one sentence comment on the proposed structure changes. Still no discussion among the board members recorded.

Board Meeting Minutes 8/29/2011

b. Leadership Structure Changes Action Items

Paul will follow up with James to be sure he has been apprised of the leadership changes discussed at the summit, and he will draft a blog to share with the community on the proposed leadership structure changes.

And then in the next board meeting, an overview was presented to the board that indicated essentially that little disagreement was met in the discussion group. Couldn't be further from the truth. Most non-leadership community members failed to see the need for the structure changes given the supposed reason for them that was offered.

Board Meeting Minutes 10/18/11

a. Leadership Structure Changes Blog - discussion

The discussion on JPeople has been quiet for about a week. There has been very little negative feedback about the main points of the blog which include dissolving the COC, creating a new Board of Directors, and transforming the current leadership groups into a set of committees that will all report to the Board. The thread will remain open until October 27, but now would be a good time to invite all leadership in an email thread to review the discussion and define the next steps. Paul will initiate the email.

And in the next board meeting, discussion of the very few leadership responses caused even Ryan Ozimek to speak up that changes should not be made without more input. Of course, we still haven't seen any input from the board as a whole - the only leadership group that can effect changes to the bylaws of OSM (excluding the current Article IV).

Finally we see where James Vasile, OSM general counsel also seems to be advocating caution in making changes. (Emphasis added).


Board Minutes 11/15/2011

b. Leadership structure changes (Paul)

Paul shares his thoughts on the progress we have made in this process. The feeling is expressed that the whole of leadership now needs to take part in the discussion that follows the community feedback process. Ryan comments that the organization should not move forward with significant changes without more input from the whole of leadership.

James shares his view that he has seen the Joomla project restructure a number of times over the years, with the intention to do it right, but that the result is often not a whole lot better or worse. He reminds us that the Joomla project is unique in structure, and that we should not spend too much time investigating other organization’s structures. He adds that having an organization that responds to its changing needs is not a bad thing, and that we should consider making the changes necessary to meet current realities.


Makes you wonder doesn't it? It's been very quite from the proponents of this organizational change. If discussion is occurring, it is occurring in the back channels with no general community input. Too bad. At one time OSM was well on the path of transparency. That has certainly died over the past year and a half. Now half-way through December, we still don't have November's financial reports to assess whether the treasurer has resolved his issues of failing to keep the books up to date. I hate to see the deterioration and the apathy exhibited by the current board. If no action is taken by the CoC, tough lessons may indeed be the future of the Joomla! project.

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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

Read more about Dave Huelsmann

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