Board goals 2011 retrospective and what we can learn for the future

The Fedora Board had a meeting on Friday as part of FUDCon Blacksburg and one of the topics we dicussed were the strategic goals the board agreed on last year. The top three ranked ones were:

  1. Improve and simplify collaboration in the Fedora Community
  2. Improve and encourage high-quality communication in the Fedora Community
  3. It is extraordinarily easy to join the Fedora community and quickly find a project to work on.

While we all agree that these goals are worthy, we realized that are problematic:

  1. They are too vague. There is no immediate action that results from any of them.
  2. They are impossible to achieve. We can always improve and therefor never really reach them.
  3. They are hard to measure. Even if we make progress, we cannot measure it.
  4. They cannot be enforced.

I think I need explain the last one a little: In addition to the the individual goals we listed examples. In order to make it easy to join Fedora, all our teams should have some documentation about how to join them. It would be easy to have the Board reach out to all groups and say: “We decided you need documentation on how to join your team. Please have it written by next week and report back to us.” But that’s not how it works.

Instead of enforcing things, we rather need to encourage and enable people. This means that we need to provide tools and manpower to get things done. In this example we would try to liaise a new contributor with a volunteer from the Documentation project and somebody from the group in question. These three people make a perfect team: The new contributor will ask the questions, the group member can answer them and the documentation writer can document is all in nicely for future reference. A win-win situation for everybody: The group gets documentation and hopefully more contributors in the future. The docs writer gains more insight into other parts of the Fedora project and the new contributor can work on something useful right from the start.

Even if there may not have been much progress of the strategic goals in the last year, I think we learned some very important lessons:

  1. Pick goals that can actually be achieved.
  2. Make sure you have a way to measure progress.
  3. Pick your favorite project and champion it.
  4. Don’t enforce guidelines but encourage and enable people.

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