Help Wanted: OpenSolaris Advocacy Facilitator

I've been the Facilitator for the Advocacy Community for many years now. Since the beginning, actually. And I think it's time for someone else to take over. It's an opportunity to contribute in a substantive way, and in a way that is badly needed. We need more facilitators on the project generally. Anyone interested?

Technically, the OGB is supposed to appoint Facilitators, but if someone is serious about it and wants to jump in I'm sure it would be fine. The initiative would be appreciated, actually, and a fresh perspective would be welcome, too. We'd just have to inform the OGB and the Facilitation Project about the change, and then we'd have to work on some transition items. There can be only one Facilitator, but there is plenty of work for many people to do. If no one is interested, I'll just ping ogb-discuss and inform the OGB of my decision and see if they have anyone in mind to take over.

I'm giving up this role because my job continues to evolve. Plus, I can no longer work the hours I'm working -- especially given the time zone issues I deal with every day. I have visited many hospitals in the past, and I don't intend to visit more in the future. The change is focus I am driving is interesting and planned in detail. The core of my job has been shifting to website transition projects for some time now, and that is the direction I will continue moving as I begin focusing 85% of my time there. Also, my community development work, instead of being general in nature and Advocacy-focused, has been shifting toward direct organizing with multiple communities in Tokyo -- which is a gigantic market with impressive opportunities. Both of these moves are by design, and they are both related to each other as well. I will continue to work on community building projects, but much more from the perspective of my core website development projects. Put simply, I'm focusing directly on where I'm needed most and where I can be most effective for OpenSolaris, so I can move faster in the direction I'm going. Focus is critical. And so is speed.

So, what's involved in being a Facilitator? Well, it depends on the community and it depends on you. Make it your own. Basically, the Facilitator is a Core Contributor who serves as the main communications link between a Community Group and the OpenSolaris Governing Board (OGB). That`s the most important thing. And it`s specified right in the Constitution at sections 7.4 and 7.5.

So you`d maintain the Advocacy governance records -- Contributor and Core Contributor status, basically, which is actually taken care of automatically in the database but it needs someone to follow up on who requested what status and if things were voted on properly and sent to the OGB for processing, etc. You`d facilitate governance discussions related to Advocacy, too, and participate in election planning and implementation (that last part is a very big deal). You`d update web pages, too, and there is a lot of that work that needs doing here. Also, Advocacy endorses a few projects and over 120 user group projects, so you`d have to be on all those lists (yes, all of them) so you can properly communicate with everyone on a moment's notice. Granted, the OSUG leaders are all supposed to be on osug-leaders and advocacy-discuss, but that's not always the case, leaders constantly change, and as Facilitator you simply need to be everywhere. That's my view, anyway. Also, user groups and projects go dormant from time to time, so there is a lot of work to help find new leaders and maintain the leaders grid. Updates to the news page are badly needed, too. You may want to maintain an event's calendar, too, for conferences and user group meetings.

Regarding new projects: I have been setting up user group projects inside Advocacy all along, but the proper place for that task is on the project-setup list so it needs to move there. So you`ll have to interact with people who are proposing new projects and user groups and manage the threads on advocacy-discuss, and then when final voting is done send the approved request in the right format to project-setup. I currently staff project-setup for the creation of all projects on the site, and I will continue to do this. Oh, regarding the advocacy-discuss mailing list: you'd be the new list administrator.

Another issue that comes up from time to time is when Sun sponsors programs to distribute items to the community -- OpenSolaris User Group Starter Kits, basically. There is actually a lot of communications involved with implementing these
programs, and the Facilitator can help a great deal (since you will know everyone since you will be everywhere).

Advocacy is home to about 5,000 people at the moment. It's the largest Community Group on the site, and the potential for growth in the user space around the world is gigantic. So, this is potentially a pretty big deal if someone wants to take it and run with it. You have to be serious and see it as an opportunity, though. Coming and going will not work. You need to be consistent. This is a leadership role. Leaders don't dabble around back. They drive right up front. I`ve certainly taken it as far as I can go given my circumstances and goals and plans, so it`s time for someone new with new ideas and new perspectives. Now, there is no particular process for making a transition like this, so if multiple people are interested we`d have to figure out a simple and fair process to manage that so we can choose.

One last thing: when we start migrating to the new site this summer (which is where I'll be spending all of my time), there will be many issues to consider for Advocacy since the community owns so much real estate on the site. So, we'll be working together closely. And you`ll have to like communicating, too. Facilitation really is communication and implementation. It's project management, basically -- with a healthy dose of leadership tossed in.

Want to give it a shot? Ping advocacy-discuss on this thread.

Based on the large number of groups involved is it time to start thinking of having multiple facilitators?


Posted by Alan Pae on May 21, 2009 at 07:54 PM JST #

There is more than enough work for one person, that's for sure, but traditionally most people have not wanted to do much in Advocacy in terms of managing the CG as an entity. That's what I've been trying to do sort of on the side, to be honest. :) But the Constitution only specifies one Facilitator, so it would have to be changed there to have any meaning (and changing the Constitution is massively difficult). Good observation, though. Advocacy is big. I think that someone should not feel they have to do everything. I have a much broader view of the Facilitator role than most people. No one has responded to my two mails on list, so I think I'll just have to kick this to the OGB next week.

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on May 22, 2009 at 04:51 AM JST #

>Also, Advocacy endorses a few projects and over 120 user group projects, so you`d have to be on all those lists (yes, all of them) so you can properly communicate with everyone on a moment's notice.

120 + all of the other work is probably what's scaring off everyone else. It certainly helped me to decide to not even bother.

Changing the constitution is supposed to be hard but it's also supposed to be possible.

When OpenSolaris was first getting started I imagine it wasn't all that hard to keep up with it but when the numbers start going up things change.

You would probably know best. :-)


Posted by Alan Pae on May 22, 2009 at 08:15 PM JST #

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