[openbeos] Re: Openness

  • From: "Jorge G. Mare (a.k.a. Koki)" <koki@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 09:58:33 -0700

Hi Ingo,

Ingo Weinhold wrote:
On 2007-05-12 at 19:23:14 [+0200], "Jorge G. Mare (a.k.a. Koki)" <koki@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Ingo Weinhold wrote:
The current setup is supposed to work like this: The admin group makes
decisions and Haiku Inc. carries out the tasks related to it (e.g.
providing money). The Haiku Inc. BOD members are also members of the admin
BODs are usually there to give direction and oversee, not to execute
what others decide. Haiku Inc., as a company (even if it is a
non-profit), does have a fiduciary responsibility towards it's donors
(the community and sponsors), so it is logical the company decide, say,
how its funds are used. That the developers are the people most likely
to benefit from the distribution of funds does not automatically make
them the decision-makers unless, of course, they become a BOD member,
with the responsibilities that that may entail. That's the way it works
in real life.

The current setup is quite unique and anomalous, most likely *by
accident* as a result of Haiku Inc. being in the dysfunctional state
that it is, and not *by design* for the benefit of Haiku.

You're wrong here. Haiku Inc. was founded because the project needed a corporate body particularly for handling things like donations, owning trademarks, etc. In this respect Haiku Inc. is as functional as it was when it was founded, even if some BOD members are no longer active and should be replaced.

I think I was taken out of context, but it may be my fault.

I understand why the non-profit was created in the first place. However, I think it is not currently fulfilling it's role (which is why I wrote "present setup). In other words, I would want to think that the current (dysfunctional) status of Haiku Inc. was not by design.

You may find the setup unique and anomalous, but it's nevertheless how it was intended. The admin group -- people who earned trust by contributing significantly over a long period of time -- makes the decisions, the corporation executes those that concern it (e.g. by providing funds).

Yes, the corporation does provide funds and it should certainly find people to execute stuff. But a BOD is, by definition, a body that oversees and manages. That's where the anomaly is. Directors don't execute, they direct (that's why they are called directors). In the case of Haiku Inc., the BOD (which should have an admin/dev representation) should be defining the direction, finding the resources, and managing them so that things happen. That is the typical role of a BOD, I would say.

Haiku Inc. holds copyrights and trademarks, and it also has ownership of
the funds donated to the project. So even if there was a project
manager, given that most of the issues that need to be addressed
(trademarks, funding, advocacy, marketing, etc.) would deal with Haiku
Inc. in one way or another, Haiku Inc. would be, for all practical
purposes, the logical place for such an individual.
Moving the tasks that are not done to another entity doesn't solve the
actual problem, which is that the people doing those tasks are missing.
I am not talking about "tasks" or moving them. In broad terms, what I'm
pointing at is defining clear roles and goals, and assigning those to
individuals that both have the *skill set*, the *mindset* and the *time*
to act on them.

Perfect! Define the roles and goals, find the people for them, and let them join the admin group.

This is something that only Haiku Inc. can take the initiative on, with input from the admins to at least define the general goals. I will try to be a bit more specific.

IIRC, Michael had some sort of strategic plan for 2006; I thought it was quite good, and I even printed it out from the admin list archive. While this plan may have needed some adjustments, it had a clear vision and goals for Haiku Inc., and it would have been a great starting point for kick-starting Haiku Inc. in the areas that are now lacking.

Refining that plan and making it available to the public would have not been only be very informational per se (by showing where the project is headed), but also a good source of motivation for the potential resources that the non-profit needs. It would also add to the "transparency" factor that people are also talking about. It is a pity that this plan was kept under wraps and not acted upon.

In my paragraph that you quote, I was saying that for somebody to take
care of the non-developmental issues that are one of the main topics of
this discussion, Haiku Inc. is the natural place to be. For performing
such a role, there is no real practical value being part of the admin group.

That's your opinion. IMO there's absolutely no reason why a project manager (and other people with skill sets needed) should not be part of the admin group.

I am sorry; I may not have explained myself correctly.

As this thread was more about pursuing openness as a means to get more people involved in the areas that are not related to development, and which would be closely associated with Haiku Inc., I meant to say that the logical/natural place would be Haiku Inc., and not the admin group. Please, do not think that I am trying to take power away from the admins or to be dismissive of the admins/devs; it is just a matter of being practical (more details below).

You and some other developers admit not having the time, motivation or
skill set to handle issues unrelated to development, and that as a
result these issues are neglected and nobody feels responsible for them.
If you go as far as to recognize that, what stops you from delegating to
and empowering others with the skill set and time to fill in the gap?

Nothing at all. If those people step forward they will be welcomed with open arms.

Not to contradict you, but there are precedents to the contrary (though I would rather not go there again at this point).

Is there a reluctance to relegate control of certain areas of the
project? Because if there is, I think you are both denying potential
contributors the opportunity be come engaged, and in a way also
perpetuating the status quo of neglect that you yourself so well described.

There is indeed a reluctance to give up control completely. The people who mainly created Haiku naturally want to have a say in what happens with their work. I don't think there's anything wrong with a democratic approach (we had this discussion on the admin list and I know you think otherwise) and it certainly doesn't hinder potential contributors from becoming engaged.

Nobody is talking about giving up control completely. I actually also agree that the people who actively contribute to Haiku should definitely have a say in what happens to their work, at least as long as they considered to be active contributors and remain engaged. But that should not preclude the project/admin-group from being more open/transparent and actually empowering to take part. Let me give you an actual example.

Look at the stark contrast of how the Google Summer of Code was handled in 2006 and 2007. Last year, it was a one-man effort. Nobody knew what the application looked like, nor was there an open effort to look for ideas or mentors beyond the small admin group.

In comparison, this year we openly engaged the whole admin group as well as the community from the very beginning, and as a result several admins contributed to putting together a substantive list of ideas, a great articulation of our goals for the application and we even picked up three mentors from outside of the admin group (mmu_man, Oliver and Ryan).

Would you not agree that the latter open approach is much better than the former closed one? I think this is the kind of transparency and openness that people are asking for. BTW, this is a good example that when you open up an initiative, there is potential for luring resources into taking part; with the closed approach, you deny yourself that opportunity.

Now, going back to what to do to actually address the issues, let me see if I can articulate this better. You have recognized areas in the project that are neglected and that the devs are not intrigued by or motivated to deal with. Given the dev-centric nature of the admin group and from past precedent, these areas are not likely to be addressed by the admins (nothing wrong with that, so please don't take it personal or as an offense).

That leaves you with Haiku Inc. as the entity to fill in the gap, which anyway is the logical place to deal with this stuff, as you are talking about things like trademarks and funding, which are tightly tied to the non-profit. Please, don't misunderstand: this does not mean that control on these matters is taken away from the admins, but that Haiku Inc. is assigned the role of handling them.

Unfortunately, for some reason, Haiku Inc. has not been stepping up to the plate. So, given that you as devs are donating your time and work to Haiku Inc., I think you are in a unique position to urge reciprocity from the non-profit in the form of actually taking tangible action to address the above-mentioned shortcomings of the project. I don't think this is unreasonable, nor do I think such a request to Haiku Inc. should be taken as an offense. It is about doing what's best for Haiku.

That will take re-shuffling the BOD with people that have the time to be engaged and proper representation from the admin group (which is lacking now), so that the devs have a say in the doings of the corporation that supports their project. I would actually take the 2006 strategic plan and rework it for 2007 as a starting point, and then make it available to the public. That would give Haiku Inc. a good base to start looking for BOD members. It will not be easy, and it will take some time, but it is needed.

I know I sound critical, but please take this for what it really is meant to be: constructive criticism. Needless to say, all IMHO and FWIW disclaimers apply.



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