[IAEP] Executive Director

David Farning dfarning at sugarlabs.org
Tue Sep 23 12:14:29 EDT 2008

Roles and responsibilities of an Executive Director.

Both Edward and Greg narrowed in on the key point to the cost benefit
analysis regarding an Executive Director. It is not a yes no decision.
We as a community must determine how to organize ourselves to maximize
the reward of having an Executive Director while minimizing the risk.

The general consensus among open source projects is to have the
Executive Director focus his efforts on fostering the foundation, or
infrastructure, which supports the development community. The Director
focuses on building the tools which help the community build itself.

In the case of Sugar Labs, the Executive Director is the Lab Director.
The lab director creates a place into which he can attract smart people
to solve the problems which the lab has accepted as challenges. 

Creating the space. 20 years ago, space meant physical space with desks
and chairs and parking spots. Through the use of technology, today, a
successful lab can exist in virtual space. Instead of office space,
Sugar Labs will require the hardware, software, tools and processes to
help our developers collaborate effectively while being separated by
time and space.

Attracting smart people. Smart people have choices. They chose what do
do for a living and what to do with their free time. The traditional
understanding of open source projects is that developers get involved to
scratch an itch. At Sugar Labs we have the additional benefit of impact.
Contributors are will to help if they know the work has a large positive
effect. Our work goes directly into the hands of 100s of thousands of
students. Sugar Labs will need to establish a reputation so that smart
people will chose to give their time and money to us.

The challenges. The challenges that Sugar Labs can accept are driven by
the cost of failure. As a lab, the overall cost of failure is high. We
are the only project focused on creating a software learning platform
which helps kids learn. As individuals, the cost of failure is low.
Individuals can take risks. By leveraging the open source development
model, Sugar Labs can accept the good contributions and send the not so
good contributions back for refinement. Sugar Labs will need to stay
focused on the vision while allowing individual participants the freedom
to explore.

With this in mind, I would like to propose that the oversight board
appoint Walter Bender to the position of Executive director for one
year. Over the course of the year, Walter and the Board will work
together to more formally set the roles and responsibilities of Sugar
Lab's Director.


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