[OSM-talk] [Osmf-talk] Modus operandi of the board

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Thu Oct 23 13:06:58 UTC 2014


On 10/23/2014 08:22 AM, Sarah Hoffmann wrote:
> The problem is that I don't see where the membership has any leverge on
> the board apart from the elections. We have had discussions about
> transparency before but they have been utterly fruitless so far. A good
> part of the current members has promised to report from the work of the
> board in their manifestos.

Let me describe a purely hypothetical situation.

Say there's someone on the board who doesn't really do anything. They
rarely show up for meetings, don't participate in mailing list
discussions, and respond late if at all to inquiries by the rest of the
board. It's not however *so* bad that board would go through the trouble
of calling an EGM to have that board member removed or replaced,
especially since that would always require someone to be the first to
stand up and spread disharmony by pointing out the obvious.

A new election comes up and, lo and behold, that same board member even
stands for re-election. The other board members are a bit puzzled but
what can they do, they can't suddenly start a campaign against one of
their own, can they? In the absence of any communications from other
board members, the OSMF membership assumes that the board member in
question must have been doing a good job, and promptly re-elects them.

End of hypothetical situation. It is obvious that something has gone
wrong, but what, and how could it have been better? Can we expect board
members to report to the membership about the (perceived?) lack of
performance of their peers? Or does the membership have to ask questions
to find out what happens or does not happen?

Board members are expected to keep board matters confidential, something
that is also enshrined in the Rules of Order that you mention. This is
to avoid reading about the board meeting in 5 different twitter feeds
instead of on the OSMF wiki ;) but maybe the balance is not right. Maybe
individual board members should be asked to report about their work to
the electorate. But that would of course hardly be objective. Currently
not only have we no such reporting, but the secretary (me) has even been
asked not to specifically minute *who* voted for *what* in those few
cases where board votes on something.

> It very clear states the obligations of a board member with respect to
> board meetings and transparency. How does the board hold its individual
> members accountable for following the rules of order?

Not at all, really. The rules of order is something we spent quite some
time on during our face-to-face meeting last year. I had introduced that
document because I felt that being clear about expectations and
obligations would remove some of the problems. The bill didn't pass
fully (I think the draft is still on my user page on the OSM Foundation
Wiki, something I caught flak for internally BTW) but at the time I
hoped that the bits that passed, like that board members shouldn't keep
information from each other, would clear some obstacles. I think that
was one of those occasions where I was naive.

> How can the
> OSMF membership hold board members accountable for it?

Watch what the board are doing, and ask questions. Read the answers you
get, and ask the questions that arise from them. That's what I would
suggest, and as a board member I'd actually value it if I saw that
members were interested in my work. Even if I'd probably have to give
many an embarrassing answer.


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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