I am copying into here an email convo between @jveilleux @tschumilas @CynthiaReynolds and me. It would be good to involve more people in this so please add your ideas here and to the communications google doc ping @MyriamBoure @enricostn
From: Jim Veilleux [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 08 August 2017 21:08
Outside of the dev team, who “owns” any single project within OFN? I realize there may not be a single answer to this question, since it’s a volunteer organization, but I’m used to lines of authority, even if informal, and suggest that OFN have a process to establish that. You’ve got some very talented people on the team but I’m still not sure who plays what role.
On Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 5:03 PM, Nick Weir email@example.com wrote:
It was good to talk to you earlier. Thanks for your and Ravi’s help with Stripe.
I just wanted to pick up on your PS about lines of authority. I offer the following as late night musings and not as anything approaching advice…………
My interest in this comes from an interesting transition that I am only part way through myself. The transition is from my experience of private enterprise where everyone knew who was in charge of what and who was responsible for what. In OFN (and several other more or less anarchic organisations that I am enjoying being part of) I find that the lines of authority are much more subtle, complex and initially confusing. It often seems to be the case that several people hold authority and responsibility for a task or a process and I need to communicate more thoroughly and carefully to keep everyone in the loop.
This often means that the process is slower because people get left out of the loop and/or we make mistakes because we don’t know enough about what is going on. But as I get better at it, I am appreciating how much stronger and more resilient these organisations (and their lines of authority) are. The analogy that springs to mind is the difference between the roots of a tree and the mycelium of a fungus…… If 2 or 3 roots of a tree fail then it falls; whereas mycelia are far-reaching and complex allowing the organism to put up multiple fruiting bodies even when lots of the links get broken.
I am not sure where these philosophical musings came from and I can completely understand that it may be frustrating having this delay in the Stripe process and I apologise for my part in not succeeding in getting Rob and Ravi together last week. But I guess partly why I am writing this is because I am really appreciating your involvement in OFN – not only in getting OFN USA up and running but also your generosity in supporting dev work that will benefit OFN globally. And I want to encourage you to stick with us and I hope you can enjoy being a part of OFN as much as I do.
Having said all this I want to encourage you to carry on pointing out where the OFN processes are not working for you. Your (and my) private enterprise perspective is valuable to OFN and I believe that we can build something much stronger when we all say what we need. Maybe we do need to set up clearer systems for OFN or at least more transparent descriptions of who we all are and what out roles are.
All the best
From: Jim Veilleux [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, August 9, 2017 10:14 AM
As someone who’s been heavily involved in churches and other nonprofit organizations, I appreciate what you’re saying here. The levels of commitment in a volunteer organization can be much higher than in a commercial enterprise and the diffusion of responsibility also means there’s someone to pick up the ball if someone else leaves.
My comments were not meant to express frustration as much as to ask for direction about who to go to for information.
I don’t think there’s a sufficient awareness and appreciation for the degree of difficulty presented to a newbie like me in getting up to speed. There are at least 3 main sources of information associated with this project - the discourse site, slack and github (not to mention subsidiary documents in Google docs, all the tabs in github, etc.), and - as far as I can tell - no master document for any one project that acts as a central point of information, so the bits of information about any one project seem to me to be scattered across these sources and it’s challenging for me to be sure that I’ve got the scope of any given project. There are at least 2 threads on discourse on standing orders, Rob sent two github links to Ravi, any comments in Slack seem to be scattered across the #dev channel (I think?), etc.
If you’ve been involved with the overall project for years, the challenges on catching up on any one topic are much less daunting. For me, they are a little overwhelming.
I’m very much aware that keeping up with requirements, collecting them and deciding which are to be implemented is a fair amount of work. But if you’re getting grants from outsiders who want to see that you’ve implemented what they paid for, it seems like you’d need that. (and I’m also aware that not every grantor is going to have a clear idea of what they want so you have wiggle room.
BTW - I should also say that I’ve seen a lot of good requirements work done on this project and I don’t mean to belittle that. I’ve read through the posts from Danielle and SStead at the top of Standing Orders - version 1. It’s just not clear to me that this is the whole spec, including the stuff that’s not yet done.
Please bear with me if I just come off as an ignorant whiner. I’m trying to catch up and I suffer from both time constraints and my own educational limitations, since I’m not a developer.
From: Theresa Schumilas [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 09 August 2017 16:44
I appreciate being included in this discussion - not because I know anything about the stripe and split payment situation per se, but because in Canada we are just starting to build a network of developers. I think that Jim’s comments are useful to OFN as we move toward encouraging more developers to engage with the OFN codebase, and help the Aus group move into more global support functions (I believe that is what we want to try out.) . I take Jim’s comments as a starting point to help us in this transition. And - I also have been confused by the different tools/platforms we use (github, discourse, slack, google docs) and have been trying to sort out ‘what goes where and why’. I wonder if we might have a discussion - perhaps on discourse? (easier to follow than an email thread, and then others can jump in) re: how do we move to at least linking, if not consolidating to one place, the various discussions for a particular feature. I totally see how we evolve things to the situation Jim describes - where ‘bits’ are in different places. And the ‘bits’ are not all the same type of thing - some are more desired user descriptions (like from people like me) but others are pointing out more technical integration things……
Do people think we might build on Jim’s feedback and move toward a situation where the various ‘bits’ for a given feature are linked together to facilitate ‘new to OFN’ developers jumping in? (Apologize if I’m stepping into a discussion I didn’t start - but I think this is important - IMHO (as you say)).
From: Cynthia Reynolds [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 10 August 2017 08:45
Thank you for sharing this with me Nick, I can understand Jim’s frustration. I too, am used to traditional business structures, and have had to change both mindset as well as work methods in joining the OFN. What you wrote about the roots of a tree vs mycelium really struck a chord with me. Thank you for that insight. I am sure I will be referencing it when talking to funders, who often struggle to understand how a group such as ours can be strong and resilient.
I will keep an eye out for any eventual discourse posts and share my thoughts there. I am quite content with the current methods, and have structured my workdays around checking in on all the pertinent discussions, but recall how difficult that was when I first began