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Re: Board term limits



On Tue, Jul 22, 2008 at 9:24 AM, Paul W. Frields <stickster gmail com> wrote:
> On Tue, 2008-07-22 at 08:55 -0700, Luis Villa wrote:
>> On Tue, Jul 22, 2008 at 5:52 AM, Paul W. Frields <stickster gmail com> wrote:
>> > During the discussion following the Board election, the subject of term
>> > limits was raised.  Generally those who commented on term limits thought
>> > they were a good idea, including several Board members.  I've written up
>> > a proposal to amend the Board's succession plan with term limits, in the
>> > hopes that these limits would encourage continual but gentle change in
>> > the Board's elected membership over time.
>> >
>> > https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/User:Pfrields/Proposal_for_Board_Term_Limits
>> >
>> > Comments appreciated either here or in the discussion page for the
>> > proposal on the wiki.  I'll bring this before the Board for final
>> > discussion and a vote at our August 5th session, which will likely be a
>> > public IRC meeting.
>>
>> This may well reflect my position as an entrenched incumbent ;) but a
>> little more explanation of what problem this solves would be good.
>> Incumbents may have a lot of valuable institutional memory, so making
>> them step away on a schedule might not be ideal. If you're concerned
>> about people overstaying their welcome and getting new blood on board,
>> it might be better to focus on how to get new blood involved and
>> increase the new blood's profile, and how to measure involvement of
>> incumbents (possibly privately) so that they get the message that they
>> are fading and ought to formalize that by fading out completely.
>>
>> You mention Notting's wisdom in this sense, which reminds me that
>> getting rid of institutional knowledge is particularly problematic
>> given the elected/appointed split- if this actually applies only to
>> elected members, you're automatically putting the elected members at
>> an institutional memory disadvantage relative to the appointed
>> members.
>
> The problem at hand was the perceived dominance by full-time Fedora
> people on the Board.  People who spend their entire $DAYJOB as well as
> their spare time on Fedora are automatically very involved and visible.
> That can translate directly to votes on the basis of name recognition,
> which really disadvantages people who are very involved, but in a
> somewhat more limited fashion because they don't have the luxury of
> doing Fedora all day every day.  (Maybe a similar advantage would go to
> someone unemployed, but let's not argue that for right now.) ;-)

It seems to me that a term limit would just get a different set of
full-timers on the board. If full-timers are the problem (and I agree
that they might be) you might consider instead a cap on the number of
people who work on fedora full time. The GNOME Board does something
similar (no more than 40% of seats be held by any one company) and it
seems to work pretty well for us.

> Having said that, I like your thinking about making sure that incumbents
> are involved.  I've been very much a proponent of getting people on the
> Board to pick up action items and push them to completion.  Again, that
> should be independent of $DAYJOB -- people who are volunteer Board
> members are equally expected to carry some of this load by dint of their
> elected position.
>
> I'm not sure how to measure that directly other than through tracking of
> our agenda, maintaining a clear list of action items and the accountable
> parties for them, and setting deadlines for their completion.  Those
> lists are provided to the community through this mailing list and
> elsewhere, so any contributor should feel free to hold members' feet to
> the fire as needed.  I do believe that people who don't have the time or
> energy to see self-assignments through will generally gravitate away
> from the re-election process.

We've been experimenting with using Tracks to track board tasks; I'm
not sure it is ideal, but something to think about. Just publishing
meeting attendance records before each election would have been
helpful for us in the past as well.

Luis


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