[openstack-dev] {openstack-dev][tc] Leadership training proposal/info

Colette Alexander colettealexander at gmail.com
Tue Mar 8 22:34:19 UTC 2016

On Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 1:37 PM, Doug Hellmann <doug at doughellmann.com> wrote:

> As I understood it when this course was originally proposed, the
> idea was to have a few folks already in leadership positions go
> take the training and evaluate it. Then, assuming the evaluation
> was good, we would offer it to (or at least suggest it to) other
> members of the community like PTLs or folks interested in running
> for leadership positions of some sort (not that folks who aren't
> elected can't be leaders, but one step at a time).
> How did that evolve into most of the TC (and Board?) going? Did
> someone do that evaluation already?

it only evolved into much of the TC going because more people than I
initially expected to based on previous conversations expressed interest in
being able to attend. The general cost of a single custom-session for a
group makes it possible to accommodate that larger group (so, having 10-20
people in an exclusive, not-public session, is within the bounds of
expected attendance).  No one from the board so far has said they'd be able
to attend, fwiw, and I've checked with a few of them privately to gauge
interest, which seems minimal there. I don't think the expectation that
this is an 'official' or 'required' training is suddenly there, though -
this will still be intended to be an evaluative session, just one that was
more conducive, timing-wise, to the schedules of people who expressed
interest in attending it.

> I've already expressed my skepticism of the idea of a business
> leadership class, and this specific class, being useful to us. I
> did so privately because I am willing to listen to the feedback
> from folks that do attend and I haven't really been involved in the
> planning aside from being asked to be part of the small group doing
> an initial evaluation.  But now if we're gearing up to send a large
> group to I feel it's necessary to say something publicly.
> Do we have a set of goals for the outcome of having folks take a
> "leadership" course? Do we have specific issues we would like to
> address through changes in leadership style? Does this course cover
> them?

So I laid out some of the questions I think the community could benefit
from alignment on in the etherpad I started already[0], but one of the
things that really struck me when talking to various members of the TC and
the community at large about leadership was how vastly different everyone's
experience, opinions, and approaches were to the questions I asked (which
were variations of: "As an elected leader in OpenStack, what do you wish
you would've had as resources to help you adjust to a leadership position?"
and "What do you think leaders in OpenStack could benefit from, in terms of
skillsets that could be strengthened or added via any kind of training?")
At some points, I had people suggesting to me completely opposite
definitions for the 'problem' of leadership in OpenStack, suggesting that
certain skillsets that others wanted training for didn't matter at all, and
generally realized that maybe we all don't have a great shared definition
of what leadership skills matter here in the community. Having been
interacting with the community for a few years  now, I wasn't surprised by
the diversity of opinions, but I think it does mean that some alignment on
defining the problem would be worthwhile.

Hence, the idea that perhaps a small group of existing leadership should
get together in a room and talk about how to define/agree on the problem
appropriately, first, before even beginning to think about having the
conversation to come up with solutions for it. So in many ways, the goals
or outcomes of this training would be to get more than a few people in
leadership positions within the community to gather around a shared
language and understanding of leadership in order to define problems
collectively and move forward with discussing solutions more broadly. That
could take so many possible forms, and be so many things, it's almost
impossible to sort through.

If you ask me what the 'big goal' of talking about leadership in this
community is about, I'd say it's about infusing a culture of leadership and
support for leadership skills and practices in the community that serve its
members and ultimately provide a more sustainable and humane experience for
any of the community members who wish to take on leadership positions here.
To just blatantly copy/paste my case from the etherpad:
*"As the OpenStack community matures, so too must its support and
development of its leaders. Many open source movements are not as
thoroughly democratized as OpenStack, and rely on a Benevolent Dictator for
Life (BDFL) who is largely responsible for shaping the vision and strategy
and making ‘product’ decisions for the whole of the project. Without a
BDFL, many have argued OpenStack will be unable to navigate to product
maturity. But when one looks back at the last 5 years of growth, it’s very
apparent that the strength of OpenStack lies in its democracy and community
diversity - that a reliance on many strong and capable leaders in the
community is a crucial part of its character and intrinsic to its success.
Bolstering leadership skills even more through available training and
resources, and infusing OpenStack’s culture with an emphasis on leadership
as a core value will only work towards strengthening its democracy."*[0]

The etherpad [1] doesn't discuss any other alternatives that were
> evaluated and rejected. Were any other options considered? In
> particular, how does this course compare to an event such as the
> Community Leadership Summit[2], for which all of the participants
> are other open source contributors, rather than small business
> owners/managers?

I knew about the OSCON leadership summit before drawing up options on the
etherpad, and I think that attending it would undoubtedly be a great
addition to the leadership arsenal for any open source contributor.  A
general summit with non-specific tracks for folks in leadership positions
in the OpenStack community doesn't seem entirely geared towards solving the
problem of defining the problem for this community, though. But I *do*
think that talks there, or even a track there, could be part of something
that helps grow leadership skills in the community more generally and
should absolutely be considered.

I appreciate the effort you've gone into so far, and the Foundation
> for offering to cover some of the costs, but I think we're putting
> the cart before the horse.

And I value the feedback here - this was absolutely meant to be a
discussion including whether anyone cared/wanted to do this/thought it was
a terrible idea - my counter is that there currently is no cart, and the
horse is still gestating in a womb, somewhere. It's that
small/initial/early of a stage. But that is also based on my assessment,
which I was asked to provide after a few very animated conversations about
leadership and the community with members of the TC over the last year or

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