OpenStreetMap

2022 Board elections are coming up for OSMF. You can see what the details will be like on the wiki page from last year. There are three seats up for election, not clear yet who from current Board members will run again.

We need people to run who are focused on specific needs, and ready to put in professional level work on a volunteer basis. In other words, folks who can pick a 1 or 2 things, do good work on them, in service to our community. There are plenty of chunky problems that need ownership.

Me, I’ve been on the OSMF Board longer than anyone. I used to try to cover everything. Now my work in OSMF is very focused on 2 areas – personnel and fundraising. We need to look after our people and make OSMF a good place to work. And we need resources to make our plans happen. It’s a lot, but I’m limiting my time to these.

There’s a lot of noise and energy around any election, and that holds pretty true for OSMF. It’s the one time of year many think about the OSMF at all. But the real work happens in the rest of the year. Very little of the campaign manifestos really matter. Opinions and positions don’t really matter. Through strategic discussion, we largely agree on what needs to get done. Doing the work is what counts, and that’s what we need in Board candidates.

Jumping directly into the OSMF Board with no prior OSMF experience is hard. There’s lots to do on Working Groups and Committees throughout the year. Helps build reputation across our global community, and familiarity with how we function.

That said, whatever your experience, if you are ready to jump and put in the work, I’d love to support you. Reach out and we can talk. I can share my insights on the process and what it takes.

Discussion

Comment from arnalielsewhere on 13 October 2022 at 01:51

Hi Mikel, thanks for the insightful and short diary on what we OSMF voting members need to keep in mind when looking for a board / interested in running for board.

You mentioned each board member are currently focused on 2 areas; as for you - personnel and fundraising.

So my question is - can you give example of 1-2 areas of work that you think upcoming board members should focus on? Maybe these are focus areas of the 3 incumbent board members and the tasks they will leave?

To add, my opinion is that OSMF as more on the governance body of OSM, so I would like to see OSMF Board to focus their efforts on leadership / good governance, and mobilize/ deeply support WGs and communities to this direction. Of’course, “leading” does not only mean “directing where to go” but also “listening” to OSM communities to make informed decisions on which path we take for the success and sustainability of OSM.

=Arnalie

Comment from mikelmaron on 13 October 2022 at 13:09

I can only speak for myself – I’m focused on 2 areas. Other Board Members might think they’re focused on 0, 1, 2 or 10. Really two is too many, and I’d like to just focus on one, but I think they’re both too important.

Areas of work that need focus: * Finance – that’s our treasurer * Communications – in part of the duties of secretary, but supporting broader as well * Organizational Structure – we need to get serious about EU entity * Legal and Website are more…

No one disagrees with your opinion that OSMF should be more governance oriented and less of a working board. Fortunately we have amazing WGs, communities and committees. That governance role is a lot of work in itself – simply facilitating decision making processes and mobilizing resources takes a lot of energy. I’ll also say there is not yet a consistent understanding of that role.

Some things are always going to be Board work. Fundraising is a traditional Board role. Fortunately there is a great Finance Committee to help. But again, it will take a lot of work to mobilize. Personnel is one that simply can not be left to volunteers. I’d say that bringing on a small group of personnel has been a great force multiplier for our volunteer community. We need to selectively do more.

One part of the way forward is adding a non volunteer Executive Director. We have discussed this idea and I’ve been surprised it has not been dismissed out of hand. This would help quite a bit in having a governance oriented and effective Board.

Comment from SimonPoole on 14 October 2022 at 07:46

No one disagrees with your opinion that OSMF should be more governance oriented and less of a working board.

Well for starters the board as a whole seems to disagree with that. The last three boards have been substantially more hands on than previous boards going back a decade, not to mention to the communications that refocused from the working group to the board activities over the same time frame.

Comment from drolbr on 17 October 2022 at 04:35

Well for starters the board as a whole seems to disagree with that. The last three boards have been substantially more hands on than previous boards going back a decade.

Speaking for me, this is involuntary. First of all, OSM is still growing and with it the typical operational management problems. The board has not grown.

Simple example: half of the corporate members need their proper, sometimes bizarre process to approve and pay their membership fee, sometimes 40 emails to almost a dozen people, sometimes signatures and stamps we have to collect elsewhere. That is growing amortized linear with the number of sponsors. SotM issues, complaints from third parties and other matters also grow.

Dealing with VAT is a completely new thing that comes from growth, building up some HR capacity indirectly comes from growth from the totally correct decision to have full-time employees. And as an inherently international organization, we are going to pass more thresholds above which one or the other government will inspect us for neither being involved in tax evasion nor undercutting sanctions - both obviously no concern for OSMF, but their bureaucracy sees that different.

So no, the fact that the board is so operational is a fairly direct result from OpenStreetMap growing, and the only viable way forward is to build the organizational structure to be able to do all that work.

Comment from SimonPoole on 17 October 2022 at 08:35

@dolbr historically financials has always been the largest non-delegated board task (with the exception of actual accounting), because there are a number of things in that space that are difficult to hand off to non-staff / non-officers. Growth is just making it more and more painful (and the specifics of the OSMF naturally don’t make it easier either).

Comment from amapanda ᚛ᚐᚋᚐᚅᚇᚐ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 17 October 2022 at 15:37

adding a non volunteer Executive Director. We have discussed this idea and I’ve been surprised it has not been dismissed out of hand

I dunno. I don’t think there was any serious discussions on this (by this standard, we’ve also discussed mandatory gender quotas, suing Facebook, or making OSMF hats 🤣). It’s a big topic, with a lot of unanswered questions. e.g. Is one talking about some more people to do tedious paperwork (yes!), or hiring one’s mates from Oxbridge to create powerpoints about OSM 10 year strategic vision?

Comment from mikelmaron on 17 October 2022 at 15:53

In years past, mention of an ED would be a nonstarter conversation. Maybe it shows how OSMF has matured that we can even talked about controversial things.

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