No, I’m not going to tell you who to nominate or who to vote for. I do have some ideas on what makes a good board member and what Fedora needs to secure its future based on my own observations and experiences.
Thinking About Running?
We need people on the Fedora board who have a passion for the Fedora Project’s greater purpose and long term vision. If you are thinking of running, honestly ask yourself “Why?” It needs to be more than an idle sense of “I think it would be cool” or “I’ve contributed in other areas of Fedora, why not try the board?” After the excitement of “being on the board” wears off there is still a lot of work to do and discussions to participate in. If these are your primary reasons you might find that it isn’t a lot of fun.
Commit the Time
If you are running, make the time commitment now. Serve on one Fedora leadership body at a time. Being an effective board member who makes consistent contributions to the postion requires time. I estimate making a solid contribution to the board requires a minimum of two hours a week and somtimes double or triple that to make a really solid contribution. Sometimes it is less too.
Being a board member is more than attending a one hour conference call each a week. We need board members who have demonstrated leadership in Fedora, who have brought forth new ideas to make Fedora better and driven their implementation. The Fedora board should not be a place where only the most well know technical people are elected. The Fedora Board should be full of people intent and committed to doing the work of the board–a lot of which is not technical.
Every so often people talk about needing more transparency from the board. Transparency goes beyond how much information is captured in the board meeting minutes and how much discussion is held on advisory-board list.
Transparency begins with each individual board member. It starts with each member making their views known, actively participating in discussions, and bringing solutions forward.
Beyond the usual point/counter-point mailing list discussions I want to see board members blog and talk about the things they are passionate about changing and doing. I also want to hear about progress that is being made. If a board member is passionate about Fedora and their work in Fedora, are they talking about it and where? Can you clearly understand their position–even if you don’t agree with it?
Belief in the Board’s Purpose
The Fedora board’s job goes way beyond adjudicating. The Fedora Board should be activist and lead causes that are strategically important to Fedora’s success. Deep technical skills are not required. A good portion of Fedora runs like a technical meritocracy, but this is not a requirement when it comes to providing strategic leadership. Qualification for the board is less about technical accomplishments and more about strong leadership, getting along with other people, working towards consensus and getting stuff done.
We need an energetic board of courageous people who are willing to work as a united front to push issues forward that affect Fedora’s future. Sometimes this means making a hard decision erring on the side of “mandating” or “dictating” a new direction or policy.
Fedora has become too possessed with a sense of entitlement that every community member has a voice in every decision and that any decision must have equal results for all affected parties. It isn’t getting us anywhere and it leaves the board in a situation where doing nothing is the safest, most sensible option because “mandating” would be seen as wrong.
Here are a few other things I think are important. Is the person you’re voting for:
- Able to have thoughtful dialog and willing to fully hear and consider all viewpoints–even contentious or opposing views?
- Willing to be assertive, consistently attend, and actively participate in each meeting?
- Willing to give up the need to be “right?”
- Able to work towards consensus and support the decision the board reaches as a whole even if it isn’t exactly what they wanted?
- Willing to defend and share their views publicly–even if people won’t agree with them?
In summary I’m looking for a thoughtful, respectful person who has a vision for Fedora’s future I can believe in, courage to push for that vision and make tough decisions to make it reality. And someone who has the resilience to keep pushing even when progress is impeded.
What is important to you in a Fedora Board member?