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

Sean Dague sean at dague.net
Wed Mar 9 17:40:19 UTC 2016

On 03/09/2016 12:32 PM, Doug Hellmann wrote:
> 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?

My experiences are that "Pre-canned" in these contexts molds quite a bit
around the group in question, as there are a lot of interactive
exercises and guided discussions around the topics being presented /
worked through.

I can't speak specifically to the ZigTrain content.


Sean Dague

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