[Linux-aus] Refactoring Linux Australia

Del del at babel.com.au
Fri Dec 9 13:15:02 UTC 2005

> The organisation is governed by a voluntary Council consisting of
> members elected by other members to represent them, forming a
> 9-position Council with staggered 3 year terms. The Council make
> collective decisions in the best interests of the organisation and the
> members. Its main roles are to set the strategic direction of the
> organisation and to supervise the senior staff who are responsible for
> the day-to-day running of the organisation.

This is a tried and true strategy for many volunteer run organisations.
I think you'll find that BV is not the only organisation that runs
like this -- I can think of at least 3 or 4 university student colleges
that run the same way, along with large international organisations
that do much the same.  Even town/city councils follow a similar although
not identical model.

The main advantage that this has is that it allows a committee to
oversee the interests of the members while having a staff that are
technically skilled at doing their jobs (be that marketing, management,
or programming) to make the day to day decision under the broad
direction of the committee.  The committee aren't then expected to
be skilled in financial and marketing matters, while the staff aren't
expected to understand what the best interests of the members are
without direction from the committee.

It's a model that LA could adopt over time without too much difficulty.
I don't see that the Linux-using population of Australia would have
problems in reaching at least 40,000, if it isn't already much higher
than that.

I'll put my OSIA hat on now.

OSIA is a much smaller organisation than LA.  We have about 70 members
and perhaps $3000 in the bank.  We have some considerable overlap of
members (I would imagine that nearly all OSIA members are LA members),
however it is commonly understood that we have somewhat different goals.

Taking a step back:  The goals of OSIA are to promote the corporate
use of Linux/OSS, and to promote the interests in its members in securing
business success in the OSS marketplace.  The interests of LA are
to promote community use of Linux/OSS.

Although those goals are different, they do overlap somewhat.  If
everyone in Australia uses Linux at work, they will use it at home, and
vice-versa.  Both worthwhile goals, and achievable within a few years
I would think.  :)

What OSIA and LA both lack is a "projects officer".  That would be a
person whose job it was to look for opportunities to promote Linux in
both a corporate and community manner, and to exploit those opportunities.
It would be good to have that person on paid, full or part time basis.

To cut a long story short, OSIA doesn't have the money to have such a
person on staff, but then OSIA doesn't have linux.conf.au either.  It
would be in the interests of the Linux community at large and OSIA in
particular for such a person to exist.  If OSIA gets large enough and
manages to get funding for that sort of position then we will probably
fund it, or at least part fund it in cooperation with LA.

Going back to the business model, I think the volunteer committee + paid
staff structure is a good model for all sorts of organisations, and
would probably suit both OSIA and LA down the track.

The projects officer is only one position that I have identified -- as
LA gets larger and more financially endowed then other positions will
be able to be funded and can probably be identified already -- accounts
officer, linux.org.au conference manager, business manager, and someone
to actively pursue government funding / grants opportunities.


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