“Governance” are the key rules and processes by which an organization functions. Setting the structure is one of the primary responsibilities of the Board, and in the long run where Board work has the most impact. It’s top of mind for me for the future of OSMF. I think a lot of the churn in OSMF can be settled by having better processes. This is not about centralized control, actually quite the opposite. I talk about this in my Board candidate statement and Q/A, but it’s kind of buried. And it can be pretty dry. Don’t expect excitement here. But it’s important. Want to surface a few ideas and my perspectives.
The most immediate action I want us to take is splitting the Advisory Board into a group of Local Chapters, and a group for corporates. The Advisory Board as-is has failed – the Board asks for nothing from it, and the Advisory Board offers up very little. I don’t think Local Chapters and companies have the same concerns, or have a lot to say to each other in front of the Board. So let’s split and see if it becomes more interesting. As usual, discussions from the Advisory Board would be reported out publicly.
I’m more interested in what Local Chapters have to say. I think empowering Local Chapters in OSMF governance is how we make sure that OSMF is relevant and serving more communities and mappers. There was an excellent discussion on this during State of the Map. It’s not clear what governance models make sense – federated decision making, designated rotating Board seats, etc – but let’s start looking at this in what will be a long deliberation. I think the Local Chapters and Communities Working Group could also be a good place to dig in.
We need rules of order for how the Board and Working Groups work together. This is exactly not the Board trying to exert more control over Working Groups. Rather, it’s making much more clear to Working Groups what they should expect from the Board when they need something. And so the Board can hold itself accountable to being responsive and predictable. Take a look at the Board Rules of Order, and it’s all about how we communicate, timelines, and decisions. Frankly, the Board has been bad at communicating how long we will deliberate on a request from a working group, and communicating the results back. Maybe another and better way to frame this would be additions to the existing Board Rules of Order.
We need to draw up and adopt a conflict of interest policy. This is being discussed on osmf-talk right now. With a written policy, it will be clear to all what constitutes a conflict of interest and how to handle it.
Finally AoA changes on the ballot, particularly term limits. I’m grateful that my fellow Board members worked on these, particular Frederik and Kate. They’re all worthwhile, and my preference for term limits would be:
A retiring member of the board shall be eligible for re-election only if they have not yet been elected to a board position three or more times during the most recent eight board elections.
I do not want this to benefit me. If elected, I’m not intending to run again after that (please stop me if you see me considering it!). Rather, I think a lifetime limit is very long for this organization, and could conceivably remove someone valuable from serving the organization again after time away. Anyway, I’ll be fine with the passage of the more restrictive version as well.
Curious to hear thoughts about governance ideas, and what else we should be thinking about to bring more balance to the OSMF.