[Osmf-talk] Mike's open letter

Michael Collinson mike at ayeltd.biz
Sun Nov 2 16:30:11 UTC 2014

I have also taken my advice to hold off from posting, but I do so now to 
answer and to give a couple of thoughts specifically on the board.

On 30/10/2014 23:27, Simon Poole wrote:
> Mike,
> I'm slightly surprised that you skip the issue of rebooting, aka whole
> board standing down and term limits, given the clear support for both in
> the members voices raised here.
> Simon
I decided to skip for focus and brevity. I also believe the standing 
down issue is strategically irrelevant. I do believe it has a lot to do 
with OSMF member's personal emotional confidence in the *next* board.  
So that is up to members, not me. I am too close.

Instead I copy my earlier advice to the board as Management Team chair.  
I do it verbatim so that you can judge for yourselves whether I have 
stepped out of line:

"I would be cautious about all stepping down as there is a danger (I use 
that word as my perception) that none of you will be reelected ... OSMF 
members will think a lot about politics and ideals, less so about the 
need for competent volunteer bureacrats.  Yes, "fresh starts" can be 
highly effective ... basically because there is an increased sense of 
positiveness and motivation rather than because the old was "bad". But, 
having a rotating election of only a segment of the board is also there 
for a reason;  it puts in some uniformity in to moving ahead in the long 
term and preserves the knowledge base that is in your heads and not 
written down.

I would also emphasise that the root cause of your problems is that we 
are all struggling with a tide of  success not of failure.  "We" being 
the board, the management team and at least the less-technical working 
groups. OSM itself is now in the success phase.  The fact that there is 
an OSMF board, a well understood mantra of "support but not control" and 
at least a semblence of structure is a success. ... it is just that as 
an all volunteer organisation, we are not moving fast enough to ride the 

I then went on to suggest that the board open the question to osmf-talk 
or at least to election candidates (since successful candidates will 
have to live with the outcome).

I beg to differ that there is clear support. One thing the board has 
difficulty with is intepreting between a small number of clear voices 
versus what our nearly 500 membership really wants.  If anyone would 
like to contact me privately, I am happy to pass on the anonymous 
numbers to the board, plus any important comments.

On the issue of term limits.  Personally, I remained on the board for 
three years (2007-2009) and deliberately stood down without seeking 
re-election. I wanted more non-Brits on the board and knew that with my 
board experience and relationships, I could do what I wanted to do just 
as effectively off the board as on. (We support, we do not control).

Personally, I encourage present and future board members to do the same. 
Personally, I think that should be voluntary.  A good board member is a 
good board member.   Perhaps I am also being self-interested. When I 
retire, I would consider running again as I would have time.

The current articles effectively mean folks serve 3 years, perhaps 4 and 
then face re-election.  Year 1, learn. Year 2, start functioning  
proactively.  Year 3, function confidently.  About right I think. 
Anything less is neither efficient when they are on the board, nor for 
their post-board usefulness to OSMF.

Lastly, I also included the quote from my email to the board because I 
wanted to highlight that as Management Team chair, I receive a CC on all 
board email plus sit in on board meetings.  In retrospect, there was a 
wasted opportunity for being more open.  I will be proposing to the 
board that I (or someone) continue that but as a "journalist in the 
gallery"[1]. Just mentioning that now for openness but I have been going 
on and on and on, so will discuss later.


[1] In the UK and other parliaments, there is a gallery where 
journalists sit and report on proceedings. Straight reporting, 
perspectives, human-interest,  whatever.

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