[Osmf-talk] FOSSGIS position on OSMF hiring staff (WAS: Framework for the foundation's hiring practices)

Mikel Maron mikel.maron at gmail.com
Fri Jun 26 18:40:13 UTC 2020

Michael, thanks for sharing the message from FOSSGIS, and to FOSSGIS for discussing this topic and bringing these points together here. Very good to see a local chapter organize a discussion like this, and would love to see more of that from other local chapters on all sorts of topics.

I'm going to respond based on previous Board discussion of the topic, and ask some clarifying questions.

The first points about clear public communication of job descriptions, and due diligence on the need and assessment of volunteer resources, are well aligned with the processes we are developing.

The third points about being responsible to the people who work for OSMF, and practically organizing management processes, also are topics to which we are paying particular attention.

Wanted to check on the meaning of the second points about the role of OSMF members and community in these processes. Not sure if this came through the automated translation process well. What is envisioned by "approval by OSMF members" and "accountable to the OSM community"? 

Certainly expect that community input will be sought and considered. If "approval" suggest some kind of formal vote, we think it's ultimately the role of the Board is to make decisions of this nature. On "accountable", practically speaking this typically means helping to set work plans and priorities, assessing quality of the work, etc. Considering our responsibility to those that work for OSMF, a fair work environment means someone can not have 10,000 bosses.


* Mikel Maron * +14152835207 @mikel s:mikelmaron

On Wednesday, June 24, 2020, 12:22:44 PM EDT, Michael Reichert <osm-ml at michreichert.de> wrote: 


we discussed this in the German OSM community and would like to share
the following statement of FOSSGIS e.V., the German local chapter, with you.

German version (original):

Semi-automatic English translation:

Quoting the semi-automatic English translation:
> Note: This is a English language translation of our statement. Its
> discussion and development happened in German language so in case of
> differences in exact meaning between the German and English text the
> German version will more accurately represent our position.
> After the board of the OpenStreetMap Foundation presented its plans
> for hiring additional paid staff some time ago and explicitly asked
> for feedback from the local chapters, we discussed the topic in the
> FOSSGIS and came to the following recommendations, which are supported
> by the FOSSGIS board. These ideas have been discussed in the German
> OSM community during the last weeks in the German OpenStreetMap forum
> and on the mailing list Talk-de. We believe that these recommendations
> can be useful and important for a long-term sustainable and harmonious
> collaboration between paid staff in the OSMF and the diverse global
> OSM community.
> We are in broad agreement that a clear, publicly communicated job
> description, approved by the board prior to awarding any paid work,
> should be a fundamental requirement for any paid work. This must
> ensure that the work falls within the OSMF mission, is necessary for
> its fulfilment, and does not exceed its limits. Before employing paid
> staff, the job description should be checked to see whether the work
> can be carried out by volunteers from the community or whether
> volunteers could be indirectly displaced or demotivated by the paid
> workers. Such a job description must ultimately form the actual basis
> for the activity of the paid people.
> In order that these questions will be assesed by a wide range of
> active members from different cultures and parts of the community, we
> think that both the general principles of personnel policy and the
> concrete creation of new jobs based on a job description should be
> subject to approval by OSMF members. We also think it is sensible and
> important that paid staff should be accountable for their work not
> only to the OSMF Board, but to the entire OSM community.
> In addition, we attach great importance to the fact that when paid
> workers are employed - regardless of the type of contract - OSMF lives
> up to its social responsibility as an employer or client towards those
> working for it. This applies in particular the contract desig. For
> example, it must first be decided how long-term employments are to be
> budgeted and contractually structured and how human resources
> management in practical work is to be organised, particularly taking
> into account the challenges of cooperation between paid staff and
> volunteers in the community.

Best regards

on behalf of FOSSGIS e.V. and FOSSGIS-OSMF-Stammtisch

Am 06.05.20 um 22:24 schrieb Tobias Knerr:
> Hi all,
> the OSMF Board wants to think about a general framework to hire people
> to fill in the gaps that volunteers can't fill. We believe that, given
> good practices and firm boundaries, hiring people would be worthwhile.
> It could ensure the continued stability of the OSM platform (servers,
> integral software) among other things, and augment the currently
> overworked volunteers and under resourced efforts in the face of
> continued growth.
> We would like to gather your input on strategies to have the highest
> possible positive impact at an acceptable cost, and with as few negative
> effects as possible.
> We had a brainstorm about this during the screen2screen, and these are
> some things we all agree on:
> * We strongly prefer not to hire when there are adequate volunteer
> options. In particular, we are not going to engage in paid mapping.
> * We need to define criteria for when we -can’t- wait for volunteers to
> step up.
> * We do not want to grow an army of employees. We do not envision 20
> employees within 5 years, let alone 200!
> * We want to make employees cooperate remotely, and through the same
> platforms that volunteer contributors to that project also use.
> * We should make sure all employees are treated equitably.
> * People with an OSM volunteer background should be preferred (because
> it demonstrates qualifications, added trustworthiness, and is the right
> thing to do), but we don't agree to which degree.
> * We want to avoid paid leadership or decision-making positions
> * We want people to work for the community, not for the Board. But we
> also do not want employees to have 10,000 bosses - that's a recipe for
> burnout.
> Some of the risks we hope the community can help address include the
> following:
> * Paid work can have a chilling effect on volunteering.
> * Paid staff has other incentives than volunteers.
> * Paid staff has more power to set direction of the project than a
> volunteer, if only because of the amount of time they have.
> * Paid staff hired from outside the community may lack an understanding
> and appreciation for the way the community works.
> * A direct link between organizations providing funding and a job being
> done might give those organizations undue power.
> * The organization that decides what gets worked on becomes quite
> powerful, which risks losing the benefits of do-ocracy.
> We know there are many issues with hiring people, but we hope that we
> can install meaningful guardrails against the risks. Your input will
> help us devise a strategy that makes sure we define the right jobs and
> hire the right people for them.
> Feel free to share your ideas here or send them to board at osmfoundation.org
> Tobias
> (for the OSMF board)

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