[Linux-aus] Inflection Point - A Strategic Plan for Linux Australia

Kathy Reid kathy at kathyreid.id.au
Tue Jan 5 19:02:21 AEDT 2016

On 05/01/16 15:36, Stewart Smith wrote:
> Kathy Reid <kathy at kathyreid.id.au> writes:
>> 1 - A more inclusive name (raised by François Marier)
>>      My suggestion, and I realise this will likely be an area of considerable
>>      bikeshedding, would to consider a more inclusive name that reflects the
>>      diversity of our community. In the English-speaking world, it seems that
>>      most have settled on "FOSS" to include people of both Open Source and Free
>>      Software leanings.
> It's been the source of considerable bike shedding over the years. When
> I was more directly involved with the runnin of LA, my answer was
> typically just "no" as there was always enough actual things to be
> accomplished, and the Linux name had about 10,000% more brand
> recognition in the general populus than *any* alternative.
> Besides - when was the last time you saw a rebranding of *anything* and
> went "yes, that makes complete sense and was worth all the money and
> time spent on it" compared to the 32,767 times that it wasn't the case?

Doing nothing around rebranding or repositioning is one possible 
strategic response - ie maintaining the status quo. We *could* do that, 
but I don't think it's the right response. LA has change, the Members we 
serve have changed, our objectives have changed, and the organisation 
needs to change.

>> 2 - Paid contributors in a voluntary project and the challenges this
>> presents (raised by François Marier)
>>      The question I have has to do with your observation that LA is lacking
>>      volunteers in key areas and your suggestion that LA pays for some of its
>>      core functions. Bringing paid contributors into a volunteer project is a
>>      challenging problem. Do you have any thoughts as to how LA can do this
>>      successfully? (i.e. without alienating its existing volunteer base)
>> Again, an excellent point. Bringing paid contributors in to an
>> organisation or project does represent a number of risks and challenges,
>> however I feel that with the current level of volunteer capacity and
>> capability it's the only viable way to advance the organisation. So,
>> here's how to mitigate those risks.
> I think it's possible - and this is *much* more prominent in the wider
> FOSS community than it was back in 2003 with the revitalisation of Linux
> Australia.
>>    * *Alienation of volunteers:* Firstly it's useful to outline
>>      expectations. A paid employee is contracted to carry out a set of
>>      responsibilities to an expected standard. If they don't, they are
>>      performance managed, and worst case, they are dismissed from
>>      employment. Volunteers give what they can, when they can, to the
>>      performance standard they are able to. In many cases this is equal
>>      to (or better) than paid employment. In some cases however, it
>>      isn't. To avoid alienating volunteers, the accountabilities,
>>      objectives and performance standards for roles (Volunteer and Paid)
>>      need to be well defined, and pay scales transparent. The added
>>      benefit to volunteers is that by having paid employees, or by
>>      outsourcing some tasks, it can help prevent volunteer burnout.
>>      Indeed, if a volunteer consistently demonstrates high levels of
>>      commitment and achievement, it would make them an ideal candidate
>>      for a role. The other aspect here is that I think we need a
>>      Volunteer Charter - that outlines the rights and responsibilities of
>>      Volunteers - and there are some things that we could be doing better
>>      here such as inductions [1]. Having a more structured approach to
>>      Volunteering with the organisation, along with a more formalised
>>      Volunteer Recognition programme, would also mitigate the risk of
>>      alienation.
> It may not be a problem at all - a bunch of the things that LA would
> have to pay people to do there simply aren't enough volunteer hours
> for in our community - or it's their day job and they don't want to also
> do it on their downtime.
>>    * *Additional overhead: *Having paid employees adds a level of
>>      complexity to managing the organisation, as we become responsible
>>      (and liable) for things like payroll, insurance, Workcover,
>>      supervision, performance management and so on. By having only
>>      Volunteers, some of this risk and responsibility is mitigated (our
>>      insurance for instance covers Volunteers). So, the point I'm making
>>      is that paid employees incur additional overheads than just expenses
>>      - so we want to make sure that the structure and role they're hired
>>      into is well thought through.
> This can be solved by contracting out things more rather than directly
> hiring, like we've done in the past.
Also agreed

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