[IAEP] quarterly or semiannual financials/vibrancy/transparency around Sugar Labs' 1st hire

Adam Holt holt at laptop.org
Sun Apr 3 18:58:00 EDT 2016

On Sun, Apr 3, 2016 at 6:49 PM, Adam Holt <holt at laptop.org> wrote:

> Just a quick apology that I will be voting against the role as currently
> outlined at http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Translation_Community_Manager as
> it does not as of now
> contain quarterly or semiannual reporting structures with teeth, as Chris
> Leonard outlined to me during a more-than-hourlong telephone call on
> February 25th 2016, and as Walter Bender co-suggested during April 1st 2016
> Oversight Board meeting.  This is not to question the very hard work Tony
> Anderson put into the above page.  Tony is far from the only one who has
> worked very hard on this, but his work over more than a month stands out
> above all others.
> The reason for such quarterly or semiannual financial and community
> reporting would be to protect Sugar Labs from accidental drift, and
> accidental incommunicado, despite
> the absolute very best of intentions from all (
> http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Finance was not updated for 4 years, for
> reasons I still do not fully understand).  Such cultures can be exceedingly
> difficult to change, if they accidentally take root.  Far better to nip
> them in the bud in advance, with no-fault/no-blame rhythmic action.
> Critically, this is completely distinct from monthly reporting on an
> informational/sociable level to http://planet.sugarlabs.org or similar,
> which I consider the fundamental nurturing foundation of this job -- but
> completely distinct from strategic/financial reporting Writ Large.
> As Sugar Labs' liaison to the Software Freedom Conservancy monitoring
> accounting, financial and legal matters, I simply cannot in good conscience
> vote in favor of Sugar Labs' first hire as described to date, without
> binding quarterly or semiannual protections against accidental and
> unintended drift.  Noble intentions need to be backed up with
> trust-but-verify process (as Chris Leonard outlined to me very emphatically
> on February 26th)

Correction: phone call was evening of Feb 25.

Aside: Chris Leonard's ability to cut through bureaucracy maturely, by
using the phone (instead of sending yet another email) is one of the
reasons I have confidence in him to deliver efficiently if this potential
job materializes.

> if in the end we believe in accountability at all.  While bashing
> bean-counters and lawyers is a perpetually entertaining hobby among
> engineers (the jokes never get old) in the end this gets us nowhere
> compared to the satisfaction of publishing our true accomplishments that
> our limited lives afford us.  Quarterly or semiannual involvement would
> secure the board's dynamic participation most important, as nobody likes an
> absentee boss, disconnected from ongoing priorities.
> I am hopeful that some such buck-stops-here reporting vibrancy will arrive
> in due course, either through a version of Caryl Bigenho's evolving
> Treasurer proposal (
> https://docs.google.com/document/d/16jIFuZ9bX-Bv675BpA1KmcEcRcX4PRCOUEX0ICRUkOc)
> and/or via an improved Translation Community Manager job description(*),
> that makes quaterly/semiannual reporting far more explicit, with a board
> vote affirming Chris Leonard's (or whoever's!) excellent ongoing work
> during each such emerging cycle.  Clearing bureaucracy out of the way for
> the sake of our legacy -- whether sandwiches are included or not, to
> properly celebrate Chris Leonard's great work every 3-to-6 months.
> I have not thought enough about Caryl's proposal, not talked to her to
> even understand it yet, but I am very interested in her suggestion that
> Sugar Labs decide what prompt financial transparency Actually Means -- at
> what granularity, and at what frequency.  Rather than having these core
> pieces decided for us by forces/externalities we regrettably still do not
> understand.  Thank you to Caryl for posed thos central/larger existential
> question that deserves both an immediate answer (if we choose to establish
> Sugar Lab's 1st hire this spring) and a more long-term inner-truth answer:
> how do we in fact regularly and promptly expose/organize finances,
> delivering material no-nonsense community trust, particularly if we expect
> others to do our work for us?
> Both the short-term and long-term question need a no-bullshit answer, and
> I hope Caryl who's been thinking about this very carefully can help us
> organize a
> ground-truthed solution.  As the time for blameful bickering is humbly
> over, as our Nigerian friend Mr Goddy gently reminded us today: if we each
> want to leave a legacy of judicious action through compromise -- standing
> up for the team and the principles that brought us together!  If so, this
> will bring Sugar Labs forward as a prominent and very proud player truly
> assisting several indigenous languages this shrinking earth greatly depends
> on... *among many other things ;)*
> (*) one possibility might be to add the following:
> 1) Translation Community Manager reports to SL Board + Community + Public
> on a fixed preset schedule of (specify quarterly or semiannual) renewable
> contract cycles.
> 2) Reports can be of any length and should be posted/archived together to
> a unique URL (http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Translation_Community_Manager
> ?) one month prior to the completion of each contract cycle, mentioning:
> (a) What actually happened over the current cycle and/or since the last
> report, including financial summary (fine if different from prior cycle's
> projections: we learn by doing!)
> (b) What can and should happen over the coming cycle.
> (c) Long-term strategic recommendations if he/she is hopefully so inclined!
> 3) The Board must affirm continuation or renewal of the contract before
> the end of each (quarterly or semiannual, pick one!) cycle.  This last part
> is largely a rubber-stamp, as the expectation is that the contract should
> renew, insofar as funds allow as the translation community strengthens --
> but at the same time it is an absolutely critical check and balance (Dead
> Man's Switch) to keep us each & all conscientiously engaged, accountable,
> and involved!
> --
> Unsung Heroes of OLPC, interviewed live @ http://unleashkids.org !
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