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

Doug Hellmann doug at doughellmann.com
Wed Mar 9 17:32:38 UTC 2016

Excerpts from Sean Dague's message of 2016-03-09 12:22:08 -0500:
> On 03/09/2016 11:36 AM, Doug Hellmann wrote:
> > Excerpts from Colette Alexander's message of 2016-03-08 14:34:19 -0800:
> >> 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.
> > 
> > My interest in attending is based solely on the number of other TC
> > members going. If a majority go, I feel I need to attend to have a good
> > common frame of reference for future discussions. If only one or two
> > folks go and prepare some sort of evaluation, I can skip the trip and
> > only attend a future course if the evaluators recommend 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.
> > 
> > I agree we need to have the conversation and come to some common
> > understanding. It's not clear that a pre-defined seminar like this
> > is the best forum for that sort of discussion. Our values should
> > drive the discussion, rather than those of someone from outside of
> > our community.
> I've participated in similar kinds of activities both at a previous
> employer, and part of strategic planning for a non-profit. And in both
> instances they were extremely useful.
> The thing that is extremely important and valuable about them is a
> trained facilitator that has a ton of experience with groups of many
> different dynamics. And, more importantly, is outside of the group
> dynamic. A good trainer/facilitator knows how to get groups to go to
> uncomfortable places to let them challenge themselves, but can pull them
> back from spiralling into unproductive places. That is much harder than
> your realize. And having professional experience there is really important.

I know leading that sort of session is difficult. Is that what
ZingTrain is offering to do? My understanding from the earlier,
off-list, discussion was that this was their pre-canned training
seminar based on one of the books they have available, and not a
customized facilitation of a discussion about our needs.  Colette,
can you clarify?

> I'm quite looking forward to the event regardless of the mix of
> individuals there. Having it be fully OpenStack folks instead of just
> being mixed in with other people showing up there there I think would be
> great.
> I also think that while it's good to have a few skeptics in the mix, if
> the bulk of people show up out obligation, it would definitely color the
> experience for all. And seems like a less worth while adventure if that
> was the case.
>     -Sean

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