Making the Board less of a single point of failure
With a lot of help from some private discussions after my post to the list
_, I have a list of problems that were encountered in the quest to
implement the Board decision regarding Internet Freedoms and some potential
I'll paste the list below and also open up a Board ticket to look at how we
might implement the ideas in future decisions.
If anyone has additional ideas of problems and solutions feel free to add
them to the page_. It is a wiki :-)
Post mortem analysis of rough spots implementing the SOPA/PIPA banner. These
are ideas for improving the communication between the Board and the people
implementing their decisions. In some cases the proposed solutions would be
sufficient in and of themselves, in other cases they would be enhanced in
combination with other solutions. Not all solutions listed are possible or
have buyin from any generic party -- different cases may require a different
subset of solutions.
* The announcement of the decision only went to advisory-board.
** Solution -- when we need a team to act on what we decide we need to send it
to the lists and people who will be implementing it. In this case that
would have been email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org and/or ianweller, nb, and mizmo
** Solution -- Use the ticketing system of the relevant teams to notify them
of needed changes. Don't just use the Board ticketing system as it
defaults to private.
* The Board decision was obscure -- subject line of "Board Meeting Minutes"
doesn't inspire people to look.
** Solution -- when announcing a decision that needs action in order to
complete, be sure to send a separate message with the decision and needed
** Solution -- Use better subject lines on these mails like: "Subject:
[Urgent] SOPA blackout changes needed by 18 Jan"
* It was hard to know who to get to approve changes and generate needed text
** Solution -- if a specific Board member takes ownership we know who to
** Solution -- have some policy/procedure for who to contact if the primary
contact is unavailable
*** That person could be jsmith but only if he's not the primary contact
** Solution -- have a policy/procedure for what decisions the implementors
can make if they are stuck and the primary contact is gone.
** Solution -- find a specific volunteer in the implementing team and give
them ownership along with sufficient information and authority to
implement the change and make necessary decisions along the way.
* Board members objected to the specific wording in the banners when there
was only 6 hours left until it went live but did not help out with
** Solution -- empower the Board members to make decisions extending the
original decision if the primary owner is unavailable (assuming here that
Peter felt that JSmith needed to make the decision)
** Solution -- stress that when Board members make objections, they need to
also be a part of coming up with the solutions.
* More information was needed in the first place in order to implement the
** Solution -- More detailed Board Meeting Minutes. In particular, if we
had described that the majority of the Board was against this being about
PIPA and SOPA the implementors would have been in a better position to
make language that the Board agreed with in the first draft.
*** Also, if we had mentioned which minority of the Board disagreed with
that decision, we would have been in a better position to understand
which people should be answering because they were wholeheartedly for
the more generic implementation and which people might either not feel
they could give an answer because they didn't agree with the strategy or
their answer could be evaluated for bias.
* The implementation of the decision had a single point of failure with the
person writing the text.
** Solution -- Have multiple board members who can perform a task
** Solution -- Give deadlines about when a board member will have completed
an action item so that others know if the ball has been dropped.
** Solution -- Have a standing policy for other board members to feel
empowered to take over a blocking task if the task is not being performed.
** Solution -- Describe what the outcome of a task should consist of in
enough detail that it can be passed to people doing the actual
implementation to perform
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