[Osmf-talk] The 'Paying People' question

Robert Banick rbanick at gmail.com
Sun Nov 29 11:03:38 UTC 2015

I’ve personally always thought that the paid staff vs. not- paid staff dichotomy was a false one. What about temporary consultants hired to accomplish specific tasks or build specific tools? What about part-time staf who hold down unglamorous functions so we the community can focus on the bigger picture? I’m more interested in those two options coming to pass than I am full-time paid staff, thogh I don’t recoil in horror from the latter. I just think that OSM needs a lot of love on specific tools and more resources for community-building.

I understand paying people in general is a change for OSM but as Frederik mentions, it doesn’t have to be an extreme.

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On Sat, Nov 28, 2015 at 9:04 PM, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org>

> Hi,
> On 11/28/2015 03:23 PM, Harry Wood wrote:
>> A lot of people instinctively look at this aspect of the OSMF, and
>> surmise that we are dithering. failing to act decisively. failing to
>> grow. The number of employees as a success metric
> ... a metric that we need to fight wherever we encounter it.
> The more employees an organisation has, the more power is concentrated
> in the hands of the board who are ultimately controlling what the
> employees do; the distance between the "small member" and those "higher
> up" increases; the power of the members to force board to do something
> is curtailed because the small members don't understand the complexity
> of the organisation. The board runs its own PR team, and when one member
> stands up and says "we should do things differently", the board simply
> instructs their employees to run a campaign that persuades members to
> vote against that idea.
> I've seen that first-hand in a different organisation, where before too
> long ex board members became the full-time employed CEOs and so on.
>> What about the flipside of this? The benefits of keeping the OSMF
>> not-for-profit company as a lean organisation. The risks of starting
>> to move much more money around to pay people's salaries.
> Pay people to acquire donations to pay for salaries of the people you've
> hired ;)
> The funny thing is, we discussed this at our board face-to-face meeting,
> and we had the same distribution - some very much in favour, some very
> much against, little middle ground. Upon closer discussion and
> inspection, it turned out that there were "extremist" views on all
> sides. Those against employing people - me among them - had the horror
> vision sketched above, or were thinking of Wikimedia, fearing that
> employing people would be a first step on a slippery slope that would
> ultimately lead to paid software developers, paid mappers, and paid
> outreach programmes across the world.
> The others who were in favour of paid staff had a horror vision of a
> board bogged down in everyday operational tasks and unable to look at
> the big picture, an organisation that would be easy prey to commercial
> interests because we are no match for their level of organisation and
> funding.
> It turns out that if everyone accepts the "horror visions" of the other
> side, there's quite an acceptable middle ground to be found. (Of course
> there might always be those who would like nothing better than be a
> board member of an organisation with 300 paid staff, or those who abhor
> paying even a single person, but those are rare.)
> In the current board, we agreed to take it slow - to accept that in the
> long run we will likely be employing a few people, and to say: Let's
> learn how to do this, as an organisation, slowly, let's start with
> hiring an administrative assistant for 1-2 days a week and let them do
> some of the tasks that currently are either being dropped or being
> reluctantly done.
> I think we're all aware of the dangers, and as long as we take it slow
> and don't let us be blinded by those who say "with a project worth that
> much, why don't you have a free-standing office building in Geneva yet",
> I think we're safe.
> Bye
> Frederik
> -- 
> Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"
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