[Linux-aus] Candidacy support statement - Kathy - President or OCM

David Lloyd lloy0076 at adam.com.au
Fri Dec 2 16:14:46 AEDT 2016


Is it at all possible to state one’s position in less than 250 words?


From: linux-aus [mailto:linux-aus-bounces at lists.linux.org.au] On Behalf Of Kathy Reid
Sent: Tuesday, 22 November 2016 7:46 PM
To: linux-aus at lists.linux.org.au
Subject: [Linux-aus] Candidacy support statement - Kathy - President or OCM


Hi everyone, 

Firstly, I’d like to echo Hugh’s words, and strongly underline our joint, united, and well considered approach into this election. We both care deeply about the ideas and fundamentals of free and opensource hardware, software, data and communities - as evidenced by our commitment to LA over the past many years. 

The choice we present you with is deliberately designed to elicit a mandate on how you would like us to steer Linux Australia in the coming years. 

I see three paths for Linux Australia’s future, the foundations and drivers of which were covered in ‘Inflection Point - a white paper on LA’s future to 2020’ in late 2015 - an attempt to gather broad thoughts on a long term strategy for the organisation. https://goo.gl/08fGqr. This document did not have the outcome I was hoping for - some sort of consensus agreement on a future for Linux Australia, however it did start to spur discussion and reflection on where we want our organisation to go. 

To be clear, I am advocating for Scenario 2 below - Linux Australia makes key investments in a number of areas, offloading activities from an overloaded Council and volunteer base, allowing Council to focus efforts on stronger governance, advocacy and strengthening our membership base. We cannot undertake these efforts while we carry the load of ‘business as usual’ activities for Linux Australia. If we think of LA’s activities in terms of MoSCoW - must do, should do, could do, won’t do - we are currently struggling in terms of capacity to do the things that must be legally done as an incorporated association. This leaves no capacity for the things we should be doing, or would even like to be doing. 

Should I not be elected to the President role - and I strongly encourage others to nominate for this role if they have a strong vision and desire to do so - then I would seek to serve as OCM to provide organisational continuity to Council 2017, and allow others with a strong vision to lead.

In terms of professional background, I bring to the table a strong technical background in web development, applications development, root cause analysis, videoconferencing and digital. I’ve held management and team leadership roles for nearly 15 years, have served 3 terms on Council in office-bearer roles (Secretary and VP), and was 2IC of linux.conf.au 2016 Geelong - LCA By the Bay - under David Bell’s excellent leadership. I also serve as Treasurer of Creative Geelong, Inc. I’m known for strong organisational skills and solid, well-structured governance documents. 

I ask not that you vote for me specifically - but give consideration and reflection to the direction you would like Linux Australia to take, and vote accordingly. 

With kind regards, 


Scenario 1 - continue on current course


Under this scenario, LA continues pretty much on its current course. 


The 7-member Council continues to be a volunteer force, and while passionate and dedicated, is overloaded by the demands of running an incorporated association that has a significant annual turnover and large stable of open source events. 


Without investment in a membership platform to communicate with members, member engagement continues to be suboptimal, centred on social media and mailing lists. Efforts to activate a membership pipeline focussed on younger and newer community members are not undertaken, and so the membership continues to 'age out', both due to other commitments (children, career, care of elderly relatives), lack of interest and so on.


In order to reduce Council and volunteer burnout, activities of the organisation are pared back to ‘minimum viable LA’, and decisions on whether to auspice events are made in this light - that is, are there sufficient volunteer hours to provide effective event oversight, or will auspicing this event mean that we don’t have bandwidth to do something else?


Eventually this could lead to the key events of Linux Australia incorporating under their own brands / associations, removing the need for the oversight / administration role played by LA. Some of the events may not have the strength to form their own independent group and so may cease to run, or may be auspiced by local organisations. LUGs could continue to dwindle as the need for them - aside from being a technical community - is diminished by the internet, and the wide availability of information. The role of advocating for free and open technologies will likely fall to other groups, such as Electronic Frontiers Australia, Open Knowledge Foundation and the Open Australia Foundation.

Scenario 2 - middle road course with investment in key areas


This is the scenario I’m advocating for. 


Under this scenario, LA makes some key strategic investments in areas such as;


*      Membership platform - investment is made in CiviCRM or similar, making membership onboarding, communication and renewal much easier.

*      Hired help, such as through contractors - investment is made in offloading administrative and financial tasks to contractors to ease the 'doing' workload of Council and Subcommittees, reducing overload

*      Digital presence - investment is made in refreshing the website and social media of Linux Australia, better serving as a promotion and pipeline mechanism


These actions help to reduce the load on Council and Subcommittees, and help to build a pipeline of newer members for the organisation. The events auspiced by Linux Australia remain so, now that additional capacity and competencies are available to ensure their effective running. The passion and will of Members is better able to be harnessed through the Membership platform, so the risk of burnout and overload is reduced (but not eliminated). 


Because assistance is available for the day to day running of the organisation, Council and Members are better positioned to take on additional activities such as whitepapers and submissions to government, furthering the objectives and values of the organisation.

As you can see, these three options exist on a continuum from purely grass-roots to heavily commercialised. However, if we go too far down the commercialisation spectrum, then we might become something I don’t think we want to be - Scenario 3:

Scenario 3 - more commercially focussed organisation


Under this scenario, Linux Australia evolves into a fully commercial operation, with paid staff to undertake key functions of the organisation, and paid leaders. Staff would work on Linux Australia events and projects on a part time or full time basis, and undertake work which furthers the objectives and values of the organisation - like many of the items on our ‘it would be nice to do X’ list. 


Linux Australia events under this scenario would no longer be purely grassroots-organised. This is a double edged sword. The events would generally have a more commercial flavour, and ticket prices would increase to cover the labour costs of staff. This would necessitate legal changes to transition from an incorporated association to a company structure. 


To reiterate the point I make above, this isn’t something I think we want to be.




Kathy Reid
Independent digital consultant
       email: kathy at kathyreid.id.au <mailto:kathy at kathyreid.id.au> 
      mobile: 0418 130 636
     twitter: @kathyreid
        blog: http://blog.kathyreid.id.au
    linkedin: https://au.linkedin.com/in/kathyreid
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