On 6/3/06, Gavin Chait <gchait(a)gmx.net> wrote:
WMF has gotten big. Very quickly. An organisation
that could be easily
understood and navigated by a few volunteers now needs a lot more effort.
I'm sure developing the job description for the CEO was a useful exercise.
The CEO is the Chief Executive Officer. I stress this. They are there to
execute tasks. A large number of the objectives and responsibilities listed
by the board are left very vague: "as defined by the board of directors",
"consistent with board-approved policies".
It is no good starting with a CEO and then figuring out who needs to be
hired next and what they're going to be doing. It's as bad as hiring an
office with no idea of who needs to be there.
I disagree, and I'll explain why below.
Imagine going on a road trip with no map, no idea of
where you are, and then
giving the job of steering to a CEO who has to take directions from the
committee in the back seat who never declare where they want to go for fear
of hurting people who want to go somewhere else.
I reiterate: first develop the system you wish to see in its entirety;
list all the tasks, responsibilities and line functions as they relate to
each other and along with their dependencies; group related tasks together
as single areas of responsibility; decide on the tools necessary to support
these functions ... and so on.
Once this is in place then it is easier to hire people and easier for them
to know what they do on Day 1, and thereafter.
The thing is, none of the current Wikimedia board knows very much
about how to run an international non-profit organization. Moreover,
they don't even know how to hire people to run such an organization.
About the only thing they really do know is that it isn't something
they can handle themselves. (None of this is to knock them, and I'm
not saying I would do any better myself.)
You've given your own suggestions above, but what is the board going
to do, say "hey, Gavin Chait said this is how we should do it, so lets
go with it"? I don't think it's going to happen.
I think the idea of an interim CEO is a perfect one (even if "CEO"
isn't the perfect terminology). Someone is needed to bootstrap the
organization. In part their job would be to say some of those very
same things you've said above. I think it's important to make it
clear that this isn't a permanent position, though. In part, because
it's dangerous to assign such a position when you really have no clue
what the position is, and in part because there are probably people
out there who would be excellent candidates for the position who don't
want to spend the rest of their life running Wikimedia.
One thing I think is important though is the interim CEO should be
made aware that a big part of eir job is going to be explaining eir
actions to the entire membership. This doesn't have to be done
directly, of course - someone would have to help. (What exactly
constitutes the membership of the Wikimedia Foundation is probably
going to be tweaked a bit, though. I don't think it makes sense to
say that everyone who edits a Wikimedia project, whether they want to
or not, is automatically a Wikimedia Foundation member. Hopefully the
interim CEO will agree with me there.)