[Foundation-l] governance

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Wed Apr 11 12:44:45 UTC 2007


this is an important essay. It largely reflects what I consider a
consensus within the Board about the role of Board, ED, and staff in
the organization. The definition of roles has become blurred after we
decided that Brad could not continue to function as both ED and Legal
Counsel at the same time. Everyone understands that this is temporary
and needs to change.

When we discussed the boundaries of each role in Florida a month ago,
I did not see anyone stand up and say: "But this is really a Board
function!" on issues of operations. There was a clear and shared
understanding of what the function of the Board of Trustees is. Some
Board members may wish to be involved in certain discussions, or help
bring about partnerships; there is nothing wrong with that, but unless
the Board is acting as a group, they are indeed under the direction of
the ED. That also is understood. Again, it would be wrong to judge the
views of the Board from implementations and processes that are
understood to be temporary.

The distinction between means and ends, which is made in this document
and which we haven't discussed before, is a useful test to apply.
Beyond that, this is very much in line with everything we've discussed
before. Recall that I proposed the role of Volunteer Coordinator, for
example, so that workgroups that are not under Board supervision can
evolve dynamically under the direction of the ED.

Finally, on the issue of the "ideal interim ED", a disgagreement:

"One argues that we should hire a professional interim ED" vs.
"Another side argue that we can not pick up such a person"

Having taken the position that our interim (!) ED should at least have
some understanding of WMF's role within the Free Culture movement and
its core values, I don't think that is an accurate description of my
own views on the topic. I do not believe in a false dichotomy of "a
person who is a professional" vs. "a person who has a reasonable
understanding about what we are doing." Indeed, I believe we've
already received at least one application where both qualities come
together. Moreover, one needs to be really careful with the meaning of
words such as "professional"; not all experience is necessarily
applicable or useful, whereas some experiences are much harder to
quantify in degrees and CVs, but absolutely essential for us.

I agree with you that having both qualities is not _as_ relevant for
the permanent ED; after all, they can be assisted by the interim ED in
orientation and transition. I consider it _more_ important for an
interim ED who has to be thrown into the middle of many operational
processes that are happening _right now_. That said, it is of utmost
importance to reach a decision outcome here soon, and consensus on the
"ideal candidate" will not necessarily be obtainable.

I do not consider a "Community Board" or "Wikicouncil" to be helpful
in community decision making processes; rather, I would like such
processes to be either overseen by trusted volunteers with a
particular specialized interest (such as the LangCom), or open and
fully participatory (polls and discussions on Meta, etc.). The ED
_and_ the Board should not run the community; the community should run
itself, with both ED & Board providing layered oversight and
occasionally instigating community processes.

Peace & Love,

DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.

"An old, rigid civilization is reluctantly dying. Something new, open,
free and exciting is waking up." -- Ming the Mechanic

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