[IAEP] [Sugar-devel] Announcing the Development Team Lead election

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Mon May 17 09:51:35 EDT 2010

On Mon, May 17, 2010 at 5:40 AM, Tomeu Vizoso <tomeu at tomeuvizoso.net> wrote:
> Hi,
> sorry for getting late to this discussion, have been traveling this weekend.

It is unfortunate that you were unable to join us. Obviously, given
your experience, your input is critical to getting this position
properly defined and filled. (I mistakenly assumed that you would have
had an opportunity to respond to Chris's initial drafts. We should
have held off sending the note until we had a chance to integrate your

> Just wanted to make some clarifications and to explain my position on this.
> On Sat, May 15, 2010 at 18:48, Chris Ball <cjb at laptop.org> wrote:
>> Hi everyone,
>> Tomeu's stepping down as the Development Team Lead¹,
> I actually stepped down as development team coordinator which is/was
> an administrative role, I wasn't the development team leader because
> that position has never existed before in our community. I tried to
> make it very clear on the email you cite.
>> and we'd like to
>> elect a replacement.  This is an important position -- the team lead
>> is responsible for setting clear goals for the team, being a
>> responsive upstream for work we receive from the community, appointing
>> a release manager for the next (0.90) release and helping to define
>> its scope, and holding regular Development Team meetings on IRC,
>> including coordination with the Design and Deployment Teams on new
>> features.
> Has there been any discussion on the creation of this role? Are there
> plans to create such strong positions for other teams?

Please don't read so much into the word leader, which I think can mean
either or both an administrative (coordinator) and someone who
establishes clear goals (and processes). The way in which SL has
established its team structure, we give great autonomy to teams to run
in whatever way they need to to accomplish their goals. We maintain a
liaison to the oversight board, but otherwise, they free to organize
themselves, as long as they are aligned with the overall SL goals.

>> There are more details on the role and the team here:
>> http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Development_Team
> But the wiki still refers to a chairman-like team coordinator, not to
> the leader position with heavy responsibilities that you describe in
> this email.
> My concerns about the position you are describing on this email:
> - "responsible for setting clear goals for the team": May not be what
> you meant to say, but I think a single individual cannot be setting
> goals for a team when most people are volunteers or employed by
> several organizations. Maybe you meant "making sure that the team has
> clear goals and is kept focused" which is what is in the wiki?
> - "being a responsive upstream for work we receive from the
> community": this sounds like a rather big responsibility to me. For
> example, what will happen with modules that are unmaintained such as
> hulahop and browse? If nobody has stepped up to maintain those since
> they were orphaned, are we going to consider the team lead a failure
> if nobody steps up in the future? If we put such a pressure on a
> single individual, maybe that person will feel compelled to take
> decisions that affect negatively other aspects such as QA or
> deployment participation?
> - "appointing a release manager for the next (0.90) release": if you
> mean just formally appointing whoever the team members choose, then
> I'm fine with it, but it's not obvious for me as it's expressed. What
> about the other positions related to development, the team lead also
> need to appoint those? Until now we have never seen two people
> competing for a role, nor disagreement on a candidacy.
> - "coordination with the Design and Deployment Teams on new features":
> do we really need that the team leads takes this responsibility as
> well? Or is assumed that the team lead will delegate it on others?

There seems to be a miscommunication.  My presumption is that this
scope of work applies to the Development Team and that the role of the
leader/coordinator is to ensure that there is a structure in place to
accomplish these tasks. Delegation is one way to do this. Others
include setting a example (being a role model) that others can follow.
Personally, I think we need a combination of approaches. But I don't
think anyone expects that the "leader" will do everything his/herself.

Regarding the important role of Release Manager, I don't think there
is any argument that we need to fill that position and Simon has
graciously offered to help bring the new person up to speed. (We'd
been unsuccessful in finding someone to shadow Simon during the 0.86
and 0.88 releases, which is unfortunate.) At issue is how do we
find/appoint the new release manager. I think the intention of the
oversight board is to delegate that responsibility to the Development
Team, where presumably there is the knowledge and experience to make
such an important decision. How they reach that decision is a "local"
decision, presumably in keeping with all the of the decision-making
processes used by the team. The point of highlighting it in the call
is to (1) remind the community that we have this important role to
fill; and (2) it is explicit that the oversight board puts great trust
the distributed team model to do the right thing.

>> The position is open to anyone; if you're interested in nominating
>> yourself, just add your name and platform to:
>> http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Development_Team/Team_Lead_Candidates_2010_05
>> The platform -- and the election as a whole -- is an opportunity to
>> express your view on development directions that Sugar should take.
>> The nomination period will be open for seven days, closing at 00:00
>> UTC on May 22nd.  Then the election will run for ten days, starting
>> at 00:00 UTC on May 22nd and finishing at 00:00 UTC on June 1st.
>> All Sugar Labs members are eligible to vote, and will receive a token
>> for doing so by e-mail.  I've volunteered to run the election.
> May I suggest that both candidates and voters are restricted to
> development team members? This would encourage interested people to
> join the team, strengthening it. I think that by giving some autonomy
> to teams we'll be encouraging them to take ownership of their areas.
> I agree is very important to find people interested on leading efforts
> and taking responsibilities, but I think is equally important to have
> a team structure that encourage division of work, diversity of
> opinions and pooling of resources.
> I'm also not sure we need a full-blown election with selectricity. I'm
> thinking that open voting on the mailing list may be enough, unless we
> are expecting that people won't vote freely without anonymity.

I'm also not convinced we need a full-blown election for this process
-- I am hoping that it will become obvious whom should fill the
position. But I suppose there is no harm in holding a more formal
vote. As to who votes, I am sympathetic to your suggestion to have
Development Team members be the ones to vote, but I am not sure there
is a clear line of demarcation. As you alluded to above, several other
teams interact closely with the development team, such as Design, and
it is our hope that the Deployment Team, under new
leadership/coordination (the other action taken by SLOBs this week)
will result in a richer interaction between developers and
deployments. Consequently, I am of the opinion the outreach and vote
should be broad-based. Indeed, one reason the hold an election is to
draw attention to the need and to generate discussion via position
statements as to how we want to move forward as a community. The more
points of view expressed at this stage, the more likely some good
ideas will be surfaced.

>> Finally, many thanks to Tomeu Vizoso and Simon Schampijer for their
>> great work as the Development Team Lead and Release Manager!
> Thanks to you for taking this important task, I'm very happy to see we
> are making progresses on this area. Hope the concerns I have raised
> above aren't seen as push back but as sincere opinions.

Let me remark that while you characterize your role as that of
coordinator, you do "lead" in that you set a wonderful example of how
to be a developer and you are relentless in your efforts to make sure
that we build and maintain structures and processes that increase our
level of professionalism and quality. These are passions of yours that
characterize our development as a community. In my mind this goes well
beyond coordination and I don't think we'd be where we are today
without your leadership. Thanks.


> Regards,
> Tomeu
>> - Chris.
>> ¹:  http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/sugar-devel/2010-May/023825.html
>> --
>> Chris Ball   <cjb at laptop.org>
>> One Laptop Per Chil
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Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

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