[Foundation-l] Report on board meeting in Florida

Florence Devouard Anthere9 at yahoo.com
Sat Mar 31 05:02:59 UTC 2007

daniwo59 at aol.com wrote:
> Florence, 
> Thank you for your  email. I will try to clarify exactly what you are saying—
> the best way to do that  is to read your email from bottom to top. You wrote: 
> " As I was explaining, we  have no ED. Which means that the points listed 
> above as ED issues will either be  left unfixed until we have one, or will have to 
> be dealt with by someone else  (undefined). We might make an  exception and 
> hire a legal coordinator,  because this is a critical issue." 
> So let us look at the  critical issues. I can safely assume that "Do it soon 
> and is important" is most  critical
> * Coordinate legal activities (ED)
> * Job description for all  (ED)
> * Personnel needs (ED) 
> Note that they are all  ED. Am I too assume that, except for the coordination 
> of legal activities, these  will all be left unfixed until there is an ED, or 
> will they be dealt with by  some undefined else. It seems the former is the 
> answer, with the exception  of a legal coordinator. In other words, are you 
> leaving the most pressing issues  unfixed? If it is the latter "undefined else," 
> how will the "else" be  selected?

Note that all those tasks are not necessarily DONE by the ED, but under 
the responsability of the ED. Which makes a difference.

The general answer is "unfixed". Practically, we will depend on the good 
will of volunteer board members, and on the good will of staff who 
prefer helping than quitting. Eh !

> Next came, " Do it  soon (but not necessarily very important)" 
> * Data Gathering (ED)
> *  Fundraising Planning (ED)
> * Board Skills and Expansion and Election  (board)
> * Short term budget (COO)
> * Wikimania Finances (ED)
> * Tech  stuff in office (ED) 
> 4 out of 6 are  ED-related. Am I too assume here that this "do it soon 
> category" is delayed as  well? (Wiktionary defined "soon" as "Within a short time; 
> _quickly_ (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/quickly) .") In fact, the  only 
> Board-related one involves the upcoming election for community  representatives. 
> That will be soon, even though it is "not necessarily very  important").

I have spent the whole week trying to work on wikimania finances, 
sponsorship and fundraising. As a volunteer. And largely because the 
staff member who was in charge of these topics choose to quit without a 
warning nor an explanation.

The good news is that simply in a week, several volunteers showed up to 
help. For example, Pyb and Schiste are helping on the sponsorship.

As for the budget, it requires receiving financial information from the 
COO. Once received, we'll work on the budget.

Tech stuff has been fixed with hiring Rob full time.

As for Data Gathering, though mentionned urgent, there was a biais in 
the vote as it was mostly supported by ONE board member. I take it that 
if this board member consider the task important, he will take care of it.

Elections are planned in june, so there is ample time.

> Finally, you had "  Important (but not necessarily to do immediately)"
> * Brand Strategy  (board)
> * Business Development Strategy (board)
> * Technical Management  (ED) 
> What professional  expertise does the Board bring to the first two? When 
> talking about a brand  worth billions of dollars--and that means billions of 
> dollars for free culture  and knowledge--I would assume that the Board would 
> consider some professional  advice and assistance.

Yes, a company proposed its assistance. It is called Landor. 
(www.landor.com). Plenty of impressing customers.
The fact you did not hear about something does not mean it does not exist.

As for the last point, Technical
> Management, I assume you  mean managing Brion, Tim, Domas, Mark, and the other 
> developers. Wouldn’t the  last be the job a CTO, and not the board?  

Please read again. It is not written board, it is written ED. A CTO (or 
a project leader) is under the responsability of the ED)

> As for some of the  other topics discussed, you wrote "What can be mentioned 
> probably is this:"
> *  work on a travel policy (nothing very fancy to report) 
> I ask: what is the  current travel policy which is being amended?

A policy was set up in 2004. It allowed 1000 dollars per trimester per 
board member, 3000 dollars for the chair. This is the last "validated one".

> * work on a policy for  reimbursement (nothing very fancy to report) 
> I ask: what is the  current reimbursement policy, which is being amended. If 
> there is no  reimbursement policy, how are reimbursements made? What is 
> eligible for  reimbursement and what is not? 

No written policy being amended. We agreed on reimbursement of travel 
costs (2nd class), food and hotel, as indicated on the reimbursement 
sheet done by Mav many months ago. Additionally, last summer, there was 
an agreement to reimburse me nanny costs when I was travelling on the 
board behalf.
Receipts must be provided.

> * study of some  collaboration propositions (details confidential) 
> I hope you don’t mean  the collaboration proposals with three major 
> organizations in DC that I brought  to the table. If you do, why was I not asked about 
> them? 

No, I am talking about other propositions which are confidential and 
which you were not involved in.

> * study around  brand licensing (not surprisingly since we are in the top 
> of most recognised  brands, we get some propositions from branding 
> companies. Brand licensing is  probably one of our best assets to collect 
> money for the development of the  projects in the future, so we should be 
> careful about what we do on the  topic. Brand licensing has also various 
> ramifications, in particular in our  relationships with chapters). 
> Blah blah blah—who on  the Board is actually qualified to discuss this on a 
> professional level?

No one, which is why we created an advisory board, and ask help from 
companies, especially those who accept to work on a pro bono basis.
But you are welcome to tell future voters that they should elect a 
community member being a specialist of brand licensing.
Note that you are not a specialist of brands either.

> *  approval of two new advisory board members 
> Can you please provide  a summary of what the advisory board has done or been 
> asked to do to date. Not  who is on it, but what they actually do.

See Angela answer. As far as the issues I am involved in are concerned, 
Trevor, Mitch and Melissa have helped for the ED search. Debbie and 
Ethan on the fundraising. Ward and Peter have helped on the legal 
research. Other board members may have different experiences.
We certainly could involve them more, but we have already built some 
relationships with them and worked on several issues. There is only so 
much we can do.

> * discussion about a future CTO or a  tech project leader. No conclusion at 
> the moment.
> Does that mean that there  is no direction in technical development as of 
> now?

I will let current developers appreciate that comment.

Considering the size of the  website and the amount of money poured into
> tech development, a basic roadmap  should be the least one should come to expect.

Most of the money is poured in hardware. Very little is poured in 
development proper.
But yes, we need a road map. Which is why we are looking for someone to 
help. However, this person should fit with the current team to ensure 
jewels will born from the relationship. I really wanted us to take a 
decision on this issue at the board meeting, but the tech guys did not 
seem fully decided, so better take a bit more time and explore all the 
options. I do not think there is a reason to hurry here to the point of 
making a decision in 2 days. Sometimes, it is good to take the time to 
take a decision.

> You also  wrote: 
> "During that week, the  office was really populated, as it also hosted two 
> other meetings, one  dedicated to Quality (might be worthwhile to ask 
> Greg to make a report on  this one...), " 
> While Greg is  extremely qualified to report on that, you might also ask the 
> person who  organized it. Oh, and how much time did the Board take discussing 
> its  recommendations.  

Oh good point. Since you were the organiser of that meeting, can you 
provide me the budget where we approved the expenses related to that 
meeting ?

As for the time spent discussing the recommandations, I would say that 
given that the recommandations were presented 2 hours before the end of 
the board meeting and that the issue was not on the agenda... of course, 
it was not further discussed. Not everyone is a workalcoholic :-)

> You wrote: "Delphine  was also in Florida for several  days." 
> It is always very nice  to see Delphine. What was her role in these meetings?

I was not the organiser of the tech meeting. I am still wondering who 
organised it really.
I was not the organiser of the quality meeting. You were.
I was the organiser of the board meeting, and I did not invite her.

However, contrariwise to you, Delphine has an approved travel budget, 
and by default, I consider staff is not "dumb" and if she thought she 
needed travel, then she did need travel.
The board is not the police.
She knows pretty well that if she does not do her job and abuse things, 
she can be fired. It is not your place to judge her work and the way she 
organises herself. That goes for every employee.

> Or does that go under the  discussed Travel Policy (to quote you, "nothing 
> very fancy to report.")

The travel policy is the one related to the board. Not the travel policy 
of the employees.
The travel policy of the employees is set up by the ED, not the board.

> It would also be nice  to hear some more elaboration from you about the 
> "difference of opinion" between  the Board and the Search Firm regarding the role 
> of an ED. How does the Board  see the role? How does the Search Firm see the 
> role? What efforts are being made  to bridge this difference? 

I would prefer that you be blunt and say your word rather than turning 
around the pot Danny.

> All in all, it  sounds like a fascinating meeting. I look forward to reading 
> the minutes.   

Ah, confidential :-) Too bad. But they were written Danny, be reassured.

> Danny

You know Danny... I like you. But here, I think what you are doing is 
wrong. Really wrong.

There is a big difference between having an opinion and voicing it, and 
attacking someone who is trying in good faith to do the best she can for 
the organisation.
There is no one and nothing preventing you to speak and give your 
opinion. However, please drop the nastiness. That is not correct.


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