[Osmf-talk] The role of face-to-face meetings in the future of the OSMF board

Clifford Snow clifford at snowandsnow.us
Mon Oct 27 15:05:49 UTC 2014

On Oct 27, 2014 7:05 AM, "Steve Coast" <steve at asklater.com> wrote:

> I agree there are ways to meet efficiently using various technologies. I'd
> say that yes, flying people around is more expensive but a) the benefit
> outweighs the cost and b) finding money isn't hard, we just need to think
> bigger than a $10k budget. What could we achieve with $500k or $5 million?
> There are plenty of foundations out there that would love to fund a great
> cause like ours, we just need a rational set of people on the board who'd
> be accountable for it.
> Steve
> > On Oct 27, 2014, at 12:35 AM, <Marek.Strassenburg-Kleciak at elektrobit.com>
> <Marek.Strassenburg-Kleciak at elektrobit.com> wrote:
> >
> > +1 and -1 as well:
> > +1: Costs. I have been working for years as a manager in an
> internationally active company. Teleconferences are daily bread. Use
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VSee if you don´t like other commercial
> products. We do it also here: http://www.i-locate.eu/advisory-board/
> because of members from different parts of the world.
> > -1: Not everything is done with Telco. Sometimes it is important to see
> people face to face and discuss things directly. If the discussion is to
> short and you need to achieve results, make longer meetings. I would say, 2
> two-day meetings  each year should be ok.
> >
> > BR,
> > Marek Strassenburg-Kleciak
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Frederik Ramm [mailto:frederik at remote.org]
> > Sent: Sunday, October 26, 2014 11:27 PM
> > To: osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
> > Subject: [Osmf-talk] The role of face-to-face meetings in the future of
> the OSMF board
> >
> > Hi,
> >
> >   much has been said about personal meetings ("face-to-face" or "F2F")
> in the last couple of days. I think one person as even suggested that board
> members should commit to *multiple* in-person meetings per year but I may
> mis-remember, I can't find that bit right now.
> >
> > When I joined the board after the Tokyo AGM, planning for a new
> face-to-face meeting was already underway, and I somewhat reluctantly
> agreed to take part. Newly elected to the "secretary" position, I drew up
> the agenda with contributions from everyone who wanted to discuss
> something, Oliver arranged a meeting space and accomodation in Berlin, and
> everybody booked their flights or train tickets or whatnot. (That
> particular meeting had Henk, Oliver, Steve, Matt, Simon, Dermot, and myself
> attending. Richard Fairhurst who was still on the board at the time
> couldn't come.)
> >
> > I had read minutes and blog posts from previous OSMF face-to-face
> meetings and my general impression was that such meetings were largely a
> bonding exercise at which one would have good food, go horseback riding,
> and agree on lofty goals for the future of OSMF that would then never be
> attained.
> >
> > The minutes from our meeting are here:
> >
> > http://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Board_Meeting_Minutes_2012-11-03
> >
> > As you can see, we were mainly concerned with defining where we stand -
> can we find common goals, a common understanding of whom the OSMF is there
> to serve, who "the community" is, and so on. It was already obvious at the
> time that there were different ideas about this and we hoped that we'd be
> able to define a common ground. That also included a "rules of order"
> document that was supposed to lay down some basic rules for how we operate.
> >
> > The minutes read ok, but it was a very stressful weekend, mostly because
> we had decided that we don't want to overrule people - we wanted to only
> produce documents that we *all* agreed with. This occasionally led to
> half-hour discussions about a single sentence which 5 people were already
> ok with. With hindsight, it was wrong of us to be so polite; we should have
> had more majority decision.
> >
> > We ended the meeting with a lot of unanimous decisions but it didn't
> help much really. Maybe too much of the "unanimous" was just an exasperated
> "ok, if I say yes will we then stop discussing this?". Maybe we all
> *wanted* to believe that agreeing on these things would make us an
> effective group that can work together well. There were some heated
> discussions but overall, I found that the atmosphere was friendly. We
> didn't go horseback riding but we did have good food. During the breaks we
> talked about private stuff that was unrelated to our OSMF work in an
> attempt to bridge any gaps that might exist - even if you disagree with the
> other person's vision for OSMF, you can still agree about a film you both
> liked, and so on.
> >
> > After Birmingham, when Kate had been newly elected as a replacement for
> Richard, we discussed a potential F2F on several occasions. On average, the
> situation was like this:
> >
> > Two people said that we need to have a F2F because it would be the
> professional thing to do and the only chance to get over our difficulties
> in working together and decide on the future of the OSMF.
> >
> > One person said that they would like to weigh the cost against the
> potential outcome and asked to have a report on how much the Berlin F2F had
> cost. (Such a report has to this day never been compiled.)
> >
> > Three people were somewhere on the fence, and said things like "sounds
> good but let's have a concrete plan about what we want to achieve first",
> or said nothing at all.
> >
> > And I was usually very much against because I felt that our desire to
> have at least some harmony would simply let us agree to some rather less
> meaningful stuff, after longish and wearing debates, at a relatively high
> cost the the OSMF *and* the individual board members.
> >
> > Now I am the first to admit that working together online is always
> better if you have met the other person(s) at least once, or even better if
> you meet them every now and then. That's why I like hack weekends a lot.
> >
> > But for the OSMF board I don't see in-person meetings as the silver
> bullet to solve most problems. I think such meetings are mainly a self-made
> brainwash. You meet, you dine, you feel important, you spend a lot of
> money, you are therefore under some pressure to deliver something, so you
> try hard, and come up with a result that looks good on paper. (Go on - read
> some of the results of past F2F meetings and compare them to what became of
> the plans.) Some individuals will have more experience with such meetings
> and have ways to get others to sign off on what they want; others may have
> lesser rhetorics skills and therefore will not have as much of an
> influence. A F2F is not something where you can take an issue home with you
> and think about it; a F2F is a pressure situation.
> >
> > (It also puts pressure on those who might feel unable to come due to
> other commitments. One person at the Berlin F2F said about the
> non-attending Richard: "I think he should resign if this meeting is not
> important enough for him." - if the F2F indeed is a bonding exercise for
> those who come then not coming essentially seals your fate in the group.)
> >
> > Personally I have come to like F2F meetings when there's a deadline.
> > When a conference programme must be finalized, I like having people
> discuss things beforehand and then meet to seal the schedule and have any
> last-minute discussions. But the board F2F is not such an occasion; to me
> it seems that the board F2F is seen by its most fervent proponents as a
> replacement for, and not an addition to, discussions held by E-Mail.
> >
> > I think that in the future of the OSMF board, F2F meetings are going to
> become more difficult and more expensive as we're bound to have several
> directors from outside of Europe, so there will be long flights and
> expenses that far exceed £5000 or may even go into the five digits, per
> meeting. (It's nice if we have directors whose employers or companies pay
> for the trip but we can't assume that to be the case.) F2F meetings can
> never replace, or be a condition for, effective working through E-Mail; a
> board that cannot get their act together on the E-Mail list cannot expect
> the OSM Foundation to pay for a nice meeting so that they can all "touch
> base" and "find common ground".
> >
> > There is a place for F2F meetings, but in my opinion they should not be
> taken for granted; a F2F meeting can be held if there are concrete issues
> to discuss or resolve which (a) are likely to be resolvable at a F2F but
> not (or not as good) on the list, and where (b) the usefulness expected
> outcome outweighs the expected expenses.
> >
> > "Because it is the professional thing to do" or "because we do it every
> year" or "because we can then work together so much better" are, in my
> opinion, not a sufficient reason to hold an in-person meeting. Anyone who
> wants to hold a F2F must be able to explain why they think it is important.
> >
> > And after our Berlin F2F and seeing how the results worked out (example
> > - long discussions about rules of order, finally agreed to them
> including a paragraph that said all info must be shared, but that got
> promptly ignored), the reasons would have to be quite compelling for me to
> agree that we should spend money and time on another F2F.
> >
> > Bye
> > Frederik
> >
> > --
> > Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"
> >
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