Refactoring Joomla!

Hello, I’m Nicholas. Most of you know me as the author of popular components like Akeeba Backup and Admin Tools. Some of you know me as a frequent code contributor to Joomla!. I’m very outspoken to the point that people think I’m an asshole. Most likely I am. I was working as a business consultant long before I turned to full time software development and, as you know, business consultants are always seen as assholes, usually ranking lower in being well-liked than accounting and legal departments. But you know what else business consultants do besides being assholes? They know how to make an organisation do more with the same people (or even less, which is why people think we are assholes). So there you have it, I was refactoring businesses before I got to refactoring code. This is my take on refactoring Joomla!’s organisation structure. It’s a long read, ideal for a Sunday morning.

Crash course on business consultancy

Before getting into specifics, we first need to have a generic idea of how work is done in an ideal organisation. It’s four words: Planning, Execution, Reporting, Reflection. They are not just four words, they are a positive feedback loop: Planning leads to Execution leads to Reporting leads to Reflection leads to Planning and all over again. Planning: people have to know what to do. Execution: people do what they do and produce some output (product of their work) and a log. Reporting: the individual logs are summed up in KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which can give people up the ladder what’s going on. Reflection: compare the reports to the plan, integrate feedback from your clients and reflect on whether things work. OK, spoiler alert, nothing ever goes according to plan. This calls for a plan revision and the loop closes. Take away number one: there is a better way for organisations to work.

As I said, this is how an ideal organisation work. You know, one where everybody understands the gravitas of their position and performs their best. Such an organisation has never existed or, if it has, it must have been ran by saints. My job was to go into dysfunctional organisations, observe how they work and introduce changes. Nobody likes changes. The people who bring changes are assholes because “that’s how we do things here”. Ergo, being the consultant who brought in changes, I was a de facto asshole until proven otherwise. This why a thing called “change management” is awfully important. It’s how you help people understand why their organisation is dysfunctional, help them to realise that their daily grind has very specific root causes and aid them in refactoring their organisation to be functional. When these people feel they are part of the wind of change they will change. If you try to sell them into a change they don’t understand and fully believe in you’ll end up with a more dysfunctional organisation. Take away number two: you need change management.

So, is the Joomla! organisation dysfunctional?

Let’s start from this. Is Joomla! organisation dysfunctional? We can answer that by taking a look at its business process. There is currently no real planning. No, having a mission statement as broad as the Pacific Ocean doesn’t count as planning any more than “I see a big door opening sometime in your future” is a valid and specific prediction of your future by a fortune teller. Having a release schedule which was overly optimistic and already blown away is also not adequate planning. A good planning would be taking into account what is needed, why it is needed and what resources we have available. You may want to build a rocket to go the moon, but if nobody wants it, nobody knows how to do it and you don’t have the faintest clue what you’re going to do up there your planning sucks. Unfortunately, Joomla! is in this “sucks big time” category with regards to planning, not due to lack of effort. Planning requires both leadership and information and Joomla! is shorthanded on the former and completely in the dark on the latter.

The execution is always a problem area in a volunteer organisation. In a traditional business setting you have the carrot of the pay check at the end of the month and the stick of the pink slip. But when you work with volunteers you only have a carrot: people enjoying what they do. This is a problem area for Joomla! because people might really, honestly, full-heartedly enjoy what they’re doing be it writing code, translating, answering questions on the forum, documenting, marketing and so on and so forth but it all comes crashing down in flames when they don’t get any gratification. It’s not because of ill will. There’s plenty of good will. The problem is that people don’t know who to contact to get something done, they have to undergo double guessing for everything they do and to cut a long story short there’s too much bureaucracy involved which strangles all enjoyment out of the creative process.

Let’s go to reporting. My, oh my… Reporting presumes that there’s at least a log of who’s doing what, what challenges they are facing and what their prediction is for the completion of any given work item (keeping in mind the volatile nature of volunteer availability). In Joomla! nobody knows who is working on what, or even if they are still working on it. I’m not saying that there are any perverted cookie lickers among us. I’m just saying that people tend to pick up something that sounds fun to them but then life kicks in, they are out of time and nobody is none the wiser. There’s no way to track this information down (no reporting), hence a communication break down which leads to organisational dysfunction.

Finally, let’s tackle reflection. By this point you’ll have probably figured out that since the former three steps of the process are in dire disrepair the “reflection” part is a short joke. You would be wrong. There’s a lot of reflection. It happens in every other JoomlaDay. It happens in J and Beyond and JWC. It happens on Working Group meetings, forums, mailing lists, Twitter, Facebook, even blog posts. However! Our reflection sucks big time because it’s based on intuition rather than evidence. I plea guilty to having done the same. Our problem is that we don’t actually know what is being done in our gigantic organisation and we have no idea what our customers think of us. We are trying to flight a plane in the dark, blindfolded, with our hands behind our backs, high on the drug of “we power 4% of the Internet”.

Why is the Joomla! organisation so dysfunctional?

When Joomla! forked off Mambo nearly a decade ago it was a small project, kept together by a motley crew of a handful of core developers and some crazy volunteers. The number of personal interconnections was small enough to sustain a functional organisation without much structure. The project exploded in popularity and layers upon layers of organisational structure were added haphazardly to cope with it. With them a great deal of bureaucratic complexity arose which eroded the ability of volunteers to, well, volunteer. The project grew from a humble shed to the Tower of Babel. Suddenly nobody speaks the same language and we’re all frustrated that the other guy or gal seems to be oblivious to our subjective truth.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about structure. When the project was founded OpenSourceMatters Incorporated (henceforth shortened as OSM) was conceived as the bare legal minimum to have a copyright and trademark holder. The actual project was supposed to be managed by a leadership team. Both OSM and the leadership were supposed to be overseen by a third team, with members coming directly from the community. That was a great plan. It would have worked great if a. OSM did remain the bare legal minimum as originally conceived b. a small leadership team was miraculously capable of coping with everything and c. the community oversight members were barred from being elected in the OSM board or the leadership. Sadly, all three conditions are false. OSM got more power, losing trust in the community. The leadership team splintered into ever so many more teams, to the point that we don’t know exactly how many there are (in theory I am probably leading the Joomla! Rapid Application Development Working Group which may or may not have officially existed and may or may not have been disbanded – I don’t even know myself). Finally, members of the community oversight were then elected to the leadership team and then in the OSM board or vice versa. Does it sound right that the audited was an auditor or vice versa? Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion after all.

There is currently a proposal on the table to restructure Joomla!. It’s pitched as more democratic, more accountable and more of just about everything but it still doesn’t address any of the prevalent dysfunctions in the Joomla! organisation. Even though it is pitched as having a flatter structure it doesn’t do away with the bureaucracy and potential cronyism, it simply enhances it. It doesn’t address the communication breakdown. It doesn’t inspire trust. On top of that, it gives way too many responsibilities to too few people, without taking into account that they are volunteers who actually have a life outside Joomla!. Instead of decentralising the structure it centralises it even more. Unfortunately its authors are so lost in defining all the small details to the extreme that they missed the big picture: Joomla! will still be a dysfunctional organisation.

So what’s your take?

I’m in favour of a very flat organisation instead of the top-down approach of the current proposal put forward by OSM. The proposal by Brian Teeman and Jean-Marie Simonnet is close enough, but not quite to the point. In any case, OSM should be reduced to the bare legal minimum for having copyright and trademark protection for the project, exactly as originally conceived. The project leadership is something I will expand on further. The third ingredient that’s required is an oversight committee which will act as a mediator for disputes (enforcing the project’s Code of Conduct equally) and provide guidance in matters of ethics. Ideally this should be consisted of people who do not have a vested interest in the project, meaning that most of you who have read so far are not eligible, just like yours truly.

Which brings us to leadership. The first thing we have to understand is that leadership doesn’t mean “those who do” but “those who inspire and facilitate those who do”. Having a bunch of coders in a production leadership team is about just as right as pulling a farmer out of their field and making them the Minister of Agricultural Affairs. Just because someone knows how to plow doesn’t mean they can be a minister. It’s a bad use of their time and leads to bad decisions all the way down. The person you need in a leadership position is someone who is familiar with the work being done in the department they lead, able to inspire those who do the work and extremely familiar with how the customers (the end users using the software we produce) are affected by the work of their department, as well as what they desire from the product. This pretty much means that the bulk of the current leadership is unfit for the job. And to make things clear: I’ve stated and I do state once more that I would absolutely suck in a leadership position. I am a doer. My time is best spent churning out code. This blog post is one of the rare occasions I slip into my old hat of business consultant, someone who has to be a leader to have any chance of getting things done

This brings us to the question of departments. I dislike the word in connection with a purely volunteer-driven organisation, but we do have to call them something. You only need a handful of departments: production, marketing, infrastructure, documentation, support, connect. Production: the actual code, including translations. Marketing: promoting the product. Infrastructure: those site’s are not going to run themselves, plus you have to make sure that software and services provisioning never hits a bump. Documentation: people need to know how to use the software, how to improve the software and so on. Support: anything we do to help people including forums, Facebook, Google+ and even liaising with local communities. Connect: connecting with local communities (JUGs), events organisation (JoomlaDays). Each department should have three representatives in the leadership team, with their responsibilities spread out between them according to their available time. If someone is absent or otherwise unable to fulfil their duties for over a month, replace them. Being a leader is not a badge, it’s a high responsibility.

The scope of the project is so large that it makes no sense to have a department of three people trying to run the show. It’s physically impossible for paid staff, let alone volunteers. This begs for one –and just one– organisation level down the ladder. Let’s call them divisions (we currently call them Working Groups, but that’s almost become a joke). Each department can have as many divisions as necessary to perform the work efficiently, but not any more than that. In other words, if three people have a crazy idea that doesn’t make them automatically a Working Group like it does today. Divisions can have outside people (community members) and/or persons from their or another division working on a specific idea but let’s not call these initiatives anything in particular and we won’t get any cookie lickers who linger on for the badge and the self-inflated ego. But how are the leaders chosen? It’s up to the divisions. They should choose the people who are better in inspiring and managing than doing. I know this sounds a bit nihilistic, but it’s not. It is meritocratic.

But how does this relate to the four parts of the business process we stated earlier? I’ll start with the Execution and move forwards as it makes more sense. Each division performs the work which has been decided by means of productive discussions with its department leadership members and probably the other divisions in case their work intersects. At a bare minimum people should file a weekly report of what they’re working on, what they’ve done and note any challenges they face.

Let’s go to Reporting. The individual division reports are collated by the department leadership into the department report. Obviously, it’s a shortened, less detailed version. The department leadership needs to know what is the department status and whether there are any problems a division itself cannot handle. In their turn, they add the department’s report data to the global project report which allows the global leadership have an idea of where we’re standing as an organisation.

Hey, what just happened? We suddenly have a good idea of who is doing what, how long it’s taking, whether they have any problems and actually be able to solve issues before they become unmanageable. That’s the first step to Reflection. We interpret our KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and have a list of problems and action plans at the division, department and global level. Action plans can be reviewed in very short (less than 30′, tops) weekly or biweekly (depending on the nature of the department) meetings and everyone is current on what the heck is going on. Now people trust the leadership because they know what is going on and why. Add to that the feedback from the customers (our community) and we have a very good overview of where the project is standing.

And finally we get our hands on Planning. Armed with the information we have obtained we can revise our planning. Yes, you may have a release plan but if you see that there’s actually no resources to implement it, revise it. Revising a bad plan to something more realistic won’t get you the ire of your customers than over-promising and under-delivering. The revised plan has emerged organically from what the community customers need and the volunteer workers can, therefore it’s far more likely to be respected by all.

If you weren’t paying close attention you are probably shouting that we didn’t address communication. Well, we did. That’s what the Reporting is for. The Joomla! organisation, each department and each division produces a report. Publish it where anywhere can see it and put those links on the front page of all of our sites. As for people knowing who to contact when they want to volunteer, that’s what our department leaders are for. Put a link to a page describing in plain English (and Spanish, and German, and French, and…) what each department does and how to contact it. The contact would ideally go to a something like a ticket system where any of the three department leaders would be able to answer and forward to the appropriate division. Then the leader would follow up with the division to see whether it replies to the wannabe volunteers. Heck, you can even get a report of how many volunteers you have recruited.

Will this magically be the end of organisation dysfunction?

I’ll be honest: no, it won’t magically eradicate it. People are imperfect beings. We all have our personalities. On top of that, life does happen when you least expect it. The organisation structure I propose is an adaptation of a business structure, inverted to work best from the bottom to the top instead of the traditional top-down approach of a business setting. It is unorthodox in the way that it gives divisions a lot of wiggle room to decide their destiny. It’s not a democratic voting process (which always leads to the majority feeling ignored), it’s a dialectic approach (people discuss ideas and pursue them either with the blessing of the department or at their own risk and peril). The major difference to the current structure is that when you set off to work you know if your work has a fair chance of being integrated or if you’re setting off for a moonshot which may ultimately be ignored if it doesn’t have spectacular results. Right now any major piece of work is equally likely to be ignored mainly by negligence and never by malice. The difference to the proposed structure is that the proposed structure gives too much faith in a voting system which can easily leave the majority disillusioned with the project, just like the majority is disillusioned with their own country’s government.

The business methodology I propose is also not a magic bullet. It’s something that has been found over the past three decades and a half to reduce the chronic dysfunctions in organisations of any kind, improving morale and productivity. It’s worked with organisations in three continents and a heck of a lot of countries, even those with famously stubborn people. It’s never been tried on a purely volunteer organisation like Joomla! (not to mention that we’re probably one of a kind) but it has been tested in the public sector which is, interestingly, dysfunctional in pretty much the same ways as Joomla!. And, yes, it worked every single time.

The last word

In conclusion, we have to keep in mind that Joomla! is a unique organisation. It’s ran entirely by volunteers, without any single commercial company having a significant impact or influence to its course. Its biggest strength and its biggest weakness is its decentralised organisation. By carefully tuning the structure, removing bureaucratic obstacles, enhancing the accountability and improving the communication on all levels –inwards, outwards and horizontally– we can enable Joomla! to be a leading force in the PHP web development sector for many more years to come. I would really like to see that happening. After all, Joomla! is much more to me than a way to make a living. Joomla! is my way of life.

15 Replies to “Refactoring Joomla!”

  1. Hi Nic,

    Super good blog post in many ways. I fully agree on most if not all of your analysis – and quite a few of your solitions.

    What i dont agree on is the following – and where i think its worth to A) explain ST9 and B) show where i think we took some choices that makes sense.

    ST9 is not the objectively best plan for Joomla as based on your analysis which we share – its a compromise of whats possible to implement as change agents in a change process – it seeks to find the middle ground between those who believe only top 5 coders should decide and those who believe all should have a vote.

    The same is the case when it comes to leadership and repporting.

    We have not found it plausible to introduce something like weekly reporting from a working group to a middle manager team up to a combined leadership team – simple because we are to far away from it today and it seems what would be needed by people in our community to change into these processes and structures is to far of a journey – not to mention that many people in the community are very much against these add layers of middle management and leadership like the JMBT proposal operates with.

    The ST9 proposal is therefore built upon assumption of introduction of a flat organization structure where you dont need reporting up through a top-down chain within the organization – because most of the power to decide has been decentralized into the actual team.

    If the team needs other teams involved or legal / financial aid the team leader can use the department coordinator – and team leaders and their department coordinator can do meetings as often they see fit – but those meetings are not a formel power structure like in the JMBT proposal where its an actual middle management power structure.

    JMTB Proposal is not less top-down / flat than the ST9 Proposal – it operates with both a middle manager and a manager level the ST9 proposal does not have. I use the word Manager very precisely as these are not leaders but Managers in this structure they are the guarantee that things are working and reporting flowing because there seems to be less trust in this structure that the teams themselfes are capable of working out each their ressort areas.

    So i think that fundamentally there is a question trust in the team capacity and how many layers of leadership you need.

    Here in Scandinavia its very common with flat structures and that you give the responsibility to the individual or the team they are in and with that responsibility comes also the freedom to plan and operate their own work day.

    The Scandinavian countries are the most happy and producetive people on the planet – in all meassurements year after year – i dont think its random luck – i do think its because we trust each other more.

    So if you work with change management here – the things you often implement are based on trust, responsibility and freedom – and not so much on classicial control chain mechanism.

    Back to teams – if we trust the teams to operate in good will, take responsibility and perform their best AND there is no TOP leadership that needs to control (manage) all of their actions all the time – then what we can settle with is that all the teams are open and transparent in their communication and they follow the general policy and structures of the organization, which includes posting minutes and ongoing work reports on the volunteer portal then everyone has access to that info – not just leadership – and then the magic happens now teams can work together, without having to have a manager control them as they work together.

    Notice that – the reporting is there – but available for all to use so all teams can see what the others are doing – and also lets not forget that with a tool like Slack (or if we find an alternative) done are the days where teams or working groups where hidden away on skype and unknown to most people. Now we actually are operating towards a communications hub concept where you can meet all the teams and contributors in the same communication sphere – teams can have private channels but all teams should also have public channels so you can just join their channel either to volunteer or or to ask questions.

    Now for accountability.

    The teams elect the team leaders.
    The team leaders elect the department coordinators and officers of OSM.
    OSM in it self handles Legal and Fiscal issues and can dissolve a team if a team it not operating within the trust it has been given to selfgovern.

    Everyone is accountable and you have a accountability loop in place thats coming from the bottom and up – not the other way around (like in the JMBT proposal).

    There is a lot of finegrained details in the ST9 proposal – but in general its important to understand that we did not set out with a final proposal – it is a draft that is open to suggestions, proposals and ideals.

    It does this in 3 rounds -> 1) LT’s -> 2) WG’s -> 3) Community

    The reason why it does this is that we wanted in a meritbased way to improve on it and (try to) build a consensus from each phase where the best ideas and suggestions people agreed upon was taken into consideration.

    Once all 3 rounds are done the plan is to sit down in the working group again and look on all the input that has come from each of the 3 rounds thats still unresolved (or unmerged if you will) and then write up the final proposal based on this process – and only at that time will it then be possible for leadership to vote on the proposal.

    Our hope – as change agents or managers of change – was that by creating an open process we could get people to contribute.

    Had we just released a finished proposal, people could rightfully have attacked us for not wanting to listen or to take in more ideas – we didnt, the process is open – feel free to take part when the round comes where your feedback fits in.

    The biggest issue sofar has been that some people have decided they dont want to make ideas, suggestions nor proposals but instead spread a lot of wrong information about the proposal – for a proces of change thats a moving and working proces where everyone can take part its really bad for the possibility of reaching a compromise for the organization.

    But let me once again make it very clear – the intention of the ST9 Proposal is _not_ to make OSM the only power structure in the organization with the right to control and decide all – the intention is to actually give the power to the individual teams and facilitate that they work well together and are able to use each other – after all we are not DO’ers in middle management or management positions – we are Leaders who try to create a structure where each team can perform to the best of their abilities and have both the freedom and responsibility of doing so.

  2. > ST9 is not the objectively best plan for Joomla as based on your analysis which we share – its a compromise of whats possible to implement as change agents in a change process

    I fully disagree. If you begin by making a compromise (therefore, intend to introduce a known to be defective structure) you are doing change management wrong. You have ended up with a solution which satisfies no-one and solves nothing. Ergo, it’s worse than doing nothing.

    > We have not found it plausible to introduce something like weekly reporting from a working group to a middle manager team up to a combined leadership team

    Newsflash: neither any of the hundreds of organisations around the world where this process has been applied on ever thought possible. In fact, there was pushback every single time. At first the reports were not on time and had several mistakes. It took the senior managers explaining to the middle managers what little conclusions they could extract from the scant information to get the middle managers understand the value of the reports. After 3-4 months the reports were running smoothly. The key word is change management.

    > The ST9 proposal is therefore built upon assumption of introduction of a flat organization structure where you dont need reporting up through a top-down chain within the organization – because most of the power to decide has been decentralized into the actual team.

    By the time you said “you don’t need reporting” you’ve deconstructed any possible value of a business reorganisation proposal. The MAJOR problem in Joomla!, the one every single one of us agrees on, is communication. Nobody knows what anyone else is doing, or who is doing what, or what is being done to address a problem and by whom. Everyone’s in the dark. You want to keep everyone in the dark by making it the official policy. How exactly will that solve anything? Having arbitrary groups of people take uninformed, arbitrary decisions isn’t something new, it’s the way thigns happen right now. Your proposal simply adds some bureaucracy on top of the current mess, something nobody thinks is any good except you guys who made the proposal.

    > If the team needs other teams involved or legal / financial aid

    Hold it right there. As you read in my proposal, legal and accounting leadership were nowhere to be seen. These are not project leadership issues, these are global leadership action plan items to be resolved by OSM. In my proposal a division would forward the action plan item to the department leadership who would put it in the global leadership action plan agenda. If the global leadership agrees there’s a need for legal / financial aid they take it to OSM.

    > those meetings are not a formel power structure

    Thank you for admitting it. This means that only the higher echelons in the project leadership have any real say on the project. That’s everyone’s beef. The doers and middle managers who do all the work have zero say. Sure, each WG can fire their own middle management but it takes the majority of WGs to fire a deparment coordinator. If I were a DC I’d create a lot of WGs who are loyal to me and only me, ensuring I can’t be fired, ever.

    > JMTB Proposal is not less top-down / flat than the ST9 Proposal

    No proposal can ever be for an organisation at the scale of the Joomla! project. Read my text carefully. As I said, three volunteers cannot manage an entire department. We are very clear that we do NOT want paid management, otherwise you know very damn well that there will be a fork by the majority, myself included, who doesn’t see paid staff fitting well in a volunteer organisation. In your proposal the department coordinators have so much work that they need to be more than full time; they need to be 24/7. That’s impossible, even with paid staff. In JMBT proposal and my analsis this is addressed more pragmatically by having more volunteers to fill the position and one more organisation level to reasonably distribute the workload. Unless you have a magic way to add another 24 hours in a day, that’s the only way.

    > So i think that fundamentally there is a question trust in the team capacity and how many layers of leadership you need.

    I’ve answered that in my analysis.

    > Here in Scandinavia its very common with flat structures and that you give the responsibility to the individual or the team they are in and with that responsibility comes also the freedom to plan and operate their own work day.

    In case you missed it, the structure I propose is even flatter than yours. There are exactly two (2) levels. Department leadership, division leadership. The global leadership is merely the meeting of deparment leaders to communicate and coordinate because, you know, you can’t have software without the infrastructure to provide it, or without documentation, or without support and so on and so forth.

    > The Scandinavian countries are the most happy and producetive people on the planet – in all meassurements year after year – i dont think its random luck – i do think its because we trust each other more.

    In case you really missed it, I am not basing my analysis on superstition and koombaya, I am basing it on hard observations the past 35 years in organisations across the planet. The root cause of happiness and productivity is being INFORMED, something you not only are sidestepping but officially declaring it unnecessary. There can be no trust when nobody knows what anyone else is doing. And having actually worked with Scandinavian organisations, the one thing I was impressed with was the efficient information flow across departments. The same flow you want strangled.

    > So if you work with change management here – the things you often implement are based on trust, responsibility and freedom – and not so much on classicial control chain mechanism.

    Did you read my analysis? The structure I propose is bottom-up, not top-down. The divisions (the doers doing all the work) decide what they want to do. The department leadership is there to provide guidance and coordination with other departments. Simply put, if the production department decides to implement package signing you need to work with the infrastructure department to support it, the marketing department to market it as a great thing, the documentation department to have it properly explained in layman terms, the support department to handle problems which might arise, the connect department to make sure local communities inform their members. The decision to work on something exciting is made at the bottom and pushed to the top.

    > all the teams are open and transparent in their communication and they follow the general policy and structures of the organization, which includes posting minutes and ongoing work reports on the volunteer portal then everyone has access to that info

    I am considering this a pre-requisite, as you can read in my analysis. The problem is that nobody will do it right without a MINIMUM control. Let’s say that Alice, Bob and Charlie are members of the production leadership. They decide to implement a new feature which is adequately small and has no signifficant impact (or so they think). In their mind, that’s something internal to their division, so they go forward. It’s nowhere to be documented until suddenly a work report appears. The infrastructure department is now panicking, because their feature puts a huge burden on the servers they are not ready to handle, the feature is merged and they can’t handle the change before release. Whoops! If that sounds like a science fiction scenario, please let me tell you that this is THE VERY REASON the consultancy company I used to work for was called in to fix the organisation. In case you still don’t get it, this is exactly what happens right now in Joomla!. Each small team works in isolation. They might share their minutes or work logs in their own small silo that’s impossible to find, leading to people being in the dark. No, Ronni, you DO need a minimum of structured reporting and action plans. It really only takes less than 30′ every week and enhances the communication between teams. Making the reports public FROM A CENTRALISED LOCATION, LINKED TO FROM THE TOP MENU OF ALL JOOMLA.ORG SITES allows the broader community to be informed to what is going on. Surely, some work and some action plans need to be out of the public eye for legal / security reasons. No problem, you can have some action plan items visible only to the right people. But for God’s sake, you NEED a minimum of structured reporting.

    > lets not forget that with a tool like Slack (or if we find an alternative) done are the days where teams or working groups where hidden away on skype and unknown to most people

    I disagree that the conversations on Slack, Skype or whatever should be made public. People do need a way to communicate confidentially. If they can’t do it on an official channel they WILL use sidechannels. This is what formal reporting aleviates. Nobody is interested in the gory details of how a decision was made. People want the executive summary. We decided to do this because of that, so many people agreed, so many people disagreed, the concerns were such and such but we agreed that they do not justify a change in our proposal. Bam, wham, done.

    > all teams should also have public channels so you can just join their channel either to volunteer or or to ask questions.

    And of course I have already included that in my proposal. I am not sure whether Slack would be the best way to handle all incoming volunteers. I’d say you first need a buffer which distributes them to the proper division, then the division should invite them to the public Slack to discuss it further. Otherwise you know what will happen: people looking for support will start pestering people on the public Slack channels and the people doing the work will ignore the public channels, ergo communication breakdown once more. Your problem is that you are too focused on the tool, not the process. I am interested in fixing the process first, then figuring out which tool to use. If you do it the other way around you are constraining your process based on the tool’s capabilities or lack thereof.

    > Now for accountability.

    I explained above why and how this system can be gamed. In the end of the day any coordinator can spawn WGs to ensure their position is never in danger.

    > Everyone is accountable and you have a accountability loop in place thats coming from the bottom and up – not the other way around (like in the JMBT proposal).

    You are wrong. In your proposal the accountability CAN and WILL be circumvented. In JMBT proposal the accountability is inherent. In my analysis the accountability is de facto: you can see what everyone does, how they respond to issues and how efficient they are.

    > There is a lot of finegrained details in the ST9 proposal – but in general its important to understand that we did not set out with a final proposal – it is a draft that is open to suggestions, proposals and ideals.

    It’s funny you should say that. The overall feedback we get is that the proposal is only open to finetuning of the details, with the structure being cast in stone. Moreover, it appears that nobody is allowed to offer a counter-proposal. What’s most disconcerting is that your plan makes OSM the official leadership structure instead of the legal and financial guardian of the project. This is a major concern in the community. It looks as if Joomla! is moving towards an enterprise structure and nobody is happy with it, except you who propose it. Jean-Marie’s and Brian Teeman’s counter-proposal addresses exactly that. It doesn’t go into details on purpose; people need to be able to understand it without having a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

    My analysis similarly doesn’t go into vast details but if you want me to, I can. That was what I used to do for a living. I can also work with the national technical univeristy’s lab for managment system. One of the lecturers there is a friend of mine and he’s already told me that a case study for a FOSS project restructuring would be an interesting topic for a diploma dissertation. If at all required, we can muster the qualified people to handle it.

    > The biggest issue sofar has been that some people have decided they dont want to make ideas, suggestions nor proposals but instead spread a lot of wrong information about the proposal – for a proces of change thats a moving and working proces where everyone can take part its really bad for the possibility of reaching a compromise for the organization.

    Oh, for crying out loud, Ronni! The people you accuse of not contributing ideas, suggestions and proposals have done exactly that. You’ve certainly read the blog posts of Radek, Robert, Brian & Jean-Marie, even mine. We do have solid ideas, solid suggestions and even proposals. Heck, I even volunteered to find you qualified academics with great experience in refactoring organisations across the EU, Middle East and former Soviet Union to help you out. You wave off our ideas, suggestions and proposals because we all want to reduce OSM into the bare legal minimum for legal and financial guardianship of the Joomla! project. I don’t see why the legal and financial counseling should be part of the leadership structure. I’ve never seen a business ran by the lawyers and beancounters. In fact, legal and accounting are usually the brakes in a business, not the accelarator pedal (for a good reason, when you are talking about a traditional for-profit business, not so much in a volunteer organisation).

    > But let me once again make it very clear – the intention of the ST9 Proposal is _not_ to make OSM the only power structure in the organization with the right to control and decide all – the intention is to actually give the power to the individual teams and facilitate that they work well together and are able to use each other

    I understand what your intention is. The problem is that what you SAY is not reflected in what you DO. Save yourself one level of organisation structure and a cause for friction with the community by refactoring your proposal to move OSM to the side of the business structure. You just need a liaison between the global leadership and OSM. The liaison would have no voting rights, they would just be there to provide legal and financial consultancy when requested or when absolutely necessary (someone might have a great idea which is too expensive or can cause legal issues and they wouldn’t know it unless they are told). Also, you do need an independent body of auditors without vested interest in the project to make sure that the Code of Conduct is enforced equally and OSM’s services are accountable.

    > after all we are not DO’ers in middle management or management positions – we are Leaders who try to create a structure where each team can perform to the best of their abilities and have both the freedom and responsibility of doing so.

    That was the basis of my analysis and refactoring proposal. A true leader is one who takes power AWAY from themselves and puts it in the hands of the people. A leader’s role is to inspire and facilitate those who do. Your proposal puts too much power and responsibility to too few people. What I propose is a way to take away the power and spread out responsibility equalyl between leaders and doers.

    Finally, if you want real accountability and enhanced communication PLEASE make formal reporting a priority, not a forbidden word. You don’t have to start with weekly reports from day one. Start with a monthly report, a few months later go into bi-weekly reports, finally move to weekly reports. It’s a change PROCESS. Manage it. At this stage you will need an external counselor who will help all teams understand how to prepare and use their reports. That’s the role of the business consultant in the change mangement process. I don’t say you should “hire” me (free of charge, I’m not a monster) or take up my offer to find you academics to do that. Screw me. Forget I exist. YOU could do that, you who make the restructuring proposal. Instead of being hands-on doers be True Leaders who train a new breed of leadership, one which understands the gravity of their position and knows how to use the proper tools to be effective. Once your job is done you can gracefully step down and you’ll be remembered as the True Leaders who saved the project from itself.

  3. Thanks for the extended reply 🙂

    I will need to go into some theory here to answer fully and to give background to the logics behind the perception of a compromise.

    You will always compromise – a business is owned and often run by someone who decides what the goal is – and that makes is easier to make a plan of change thats realisticly something that can be implemented.

    We do not have an owner or a CEO – on the contrary we have many different interests and parties that will work within the structure – so in any case the structure is a compromise between whats ideal and whats possible.

    To go into this i consider looking at Agents or Actors – the people who are in the organization – for highly relevant and the powerbase between them, but also their interests and their objectives.

    People like Bourdieu focuses in his Field Theory on agents and their social positions.

    “The position of each particular agent in the field is a result of interaction between the specific rules of the field, agent’s habitus and agent’s capital (social, economic and cultural)”

    In our case there isnt an economic factor in a traditional sense but we do have both social and cultural capital in our community within its agents.

    The more vested social and culturual capital these Agents have the more they can influence the structure.

    In a community is ours we have agents with extremely different ideas, interests and ultimately that makes it hard for us to create a new structure without it having to be a compromise.

    If you look on the process of making change or creating structures in a perspective of Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) and New-Institutional-Theory (NIT) a few foundational elements stand out:

    “ANT tries to explain how material–semiotic networks (like an organization) come together to act as a whole; the clusters of actors involved in creating meaning are both material and semiotic. As a part of this it may look at explicit strategies for relating different elements together into a network so that they form an apparently coherent whole.”

    Meaning that if we only look on this proces of creating a new structure without considering the Actors (primarily Human ones in relation to ANT) we could create a structure for the organization which would not have a chance of succeeding.

    NIT could be summarized as having the following scope:

    “Neo-institutional theory is one of the main theoretical perspectives used to understand organizational behavior as situated in and influenced by other organizations and wider social forces—especially broader cultural rules and beliefs. Initial scholarship theorized and documented how the construction of broader cultural rules constituted actors and facilitated organizational isomorphism—the growing similarity of organizations in a field. Subsequently, the scope of the theory was expanded to account for the transformation and change of institutions, as well as the heterogeneity of actors and practices in fields”.

    So while NIT also focuses of A organizations role in the bigger world and in relation to other organizations of the same time it focuses inwards on the transformation and change of institutions (organizations) and how organizations that are heterogeneous act very differently from organizations that are homogeneous.

    In all of these theories of organization theory there is a focus on the persons (actors, agents) and how the diversity of these persons within the organization plays a major role in the possibility of change or transformation of an organization.

    Vantage point has been to create a compromise – based on the persons – not a compromise organizational structure – but a compromise that would be the middle ground of the persons in the community.

    DO’ers and LEADers (and Information / Reporting):

    In general i think the main difference in perception is that you reference the DO’ers as being put out of power – where the ST9 proposal sees them as beeing founded and grounded in individual teams.

    On the same time noone can be the team leader of more than 1 team – so we dont burn out the DO’ers.

    All the DO’ers are the Team Members and the Team Leaders – and thats why the entire voting proces is based on this level. Its also why the accountability is based on a buttom-up structure and not the other way around as in the JMTB proposal.

    If the DO’ers are in the team and the team acts accordingly – why would the team need to 2 more levels above them that they report to and that manages team?

    In our model the teams report publicly – so any other team, volunteer or user in our community has access to follow the informational flow – and so that EVERYONE has access to knowledge – not just a select handful of DO’ers.

    As to your example with Alice, Bob and Charlie – if the team does something that affects other teams and their ressort areas they should be in dialoque with that team directly.

    That is really the big difference here – we expect Teams to work together directly – without having to go up a classicial corporate command structure where it travels up the chain and then down again to the other team – in our proposal Department Coordinators are there to help facilitate knowledge and cooperation when its needed – they are not there to micromanage or to be a DO’er.

    Gaming and accountability:

    No single person can approve a new team – and official team application is made, its publized and then its voted on by all the department coordinators – so you need all 6 departments coordinators involved in the process.

    These 6 department coordinators represent the teams in their departments and are elected by the team leaders – This part of the structure is not very different in ST9 vs. JMBT – the difference is that in ST9 this is the primary role of the Department Coordinators along with faciliating knowledge and cooperation. Its not a leadership level as in JMTB.

    I know you say its not but considering the work area they have it seems to be constituted of DO’ers whos working and not Leaders whos facilitating.

    So it addresses both the DO vs. LEAD paradigme as well as covers against a single persons abuse of power.

    Proposals, Ideas and suggestions:

    Not a single person has made a proposal in the documents to insert a new team in the top – infact very little concrete suggestions has come in that adresses this – alot of people have a strange logics on this.

    They claim that OSM is taking all power so its a massive corporate top-down structure – but on the same time they say it doesnt work if there is no middle leader and leader levels that continues to be based on DO’ers whos managing (and not leading).

    There is a paradox here thats interesting.

    Constructive feedback and a working process:

    The intention / goal was not to give OSM all the power – but to reduce OSM to primarily Fiscal and Legal issues – so in that sense i dont think neither ST9 or JMBT is very different in nature – the difference is primarily that aside from intentions and whats written in the proposals – some people seem to be insisting that this is not what the documents said of what the intention is.

    If this is the core of the difference of opinion – then i dont understand why noone had added in more proposals to (more) clearly define what OSM can and can not do in the ST9 proposal.

    It would seem that would be very easy.

    Sofar the closest to this is the proposal by Roberto Segura who was very good and stipulates a series of limitations and overall goals.

    As for Dep. Coordinators should not have the power to dissolve a team its been suggested to put an appeals option into the ombudsman structure – which was thougt as a independant structure for appeals (as a checks and balances element).

    The proposal is not cut in stone – its a live and if people chip in we can work our way through it.

    You could actually even suggest a ULT concept into the current structure.

    You could make a proposal to limit OSMs power.

    You could make many other proposals.

    But lets face it – very few of the most vocal critics has done so.

    They do not seem to be interested in taking part in the proces – instead they started throwing stones and then went on to blog posts later – i think this could have been a different and more constructive proces.

    I am in no way saying we picked the right proces to work on this and to include people in rounds etc.

    I am in no way claiming we didnt make mistakes on the way – we did.

    But we where tasked as a working group under a combined leadership to work with this – 22 (63%) leadership members voted for, 7 (20%) voted against, 4 (11,5%) abstained and the last 2 (5,5%) didnt vote.

    As a working group we worked very hard to do what we where tasked and we have done so until now.

    All blog posts that are made, all feedback given, all alternative proposals etc. is something we read and consider as input – but we would still prefer if people would make proposals in the documents that are shared in each round as this is the proces that is running.

    Making large comments in all documents that this is not a leadership proces when its untrue is simply trying to destroy the proces – its not constructive at all.

    At JWC14 – debate about the proposal and inputs is on the agenda for the joint leadership summit and hopefully we can get to a place where leadership collectively can stand together on the rest of the proces – as it is right now elements of the debate has been so hatefull and person attack oriented that a large amount of community members and leaders has staid out of the debate out of fear of attacks and slander on their persons.

    Thats a shame and something we should work on – all of us.

    Finally i would just like to say that we can disagree on some of the foundational elements or which process is the right one etc. and thay may also lead us to disagree on which model or which parts of the models are the right ones – but as allways i respect that you go at things and you bring in a lot of very concrete elements we can discuss and debate on – and we may not end up agreeing but there is a foundational respect of everyones right to have an opinion as different as it may be.

    I am packaging up for JWC14 now so will not have more time to comment now – as you can see i take a lot of the vantage point into this process from my years in part working with large non-profits, political parties, businesses, sport organizations but also from the years of studying policial science and organizational theory.

    I am a proclaimed structuralist democrat and as you know – and many others know – i would support voting structure that is by far even more inclusive than the one on the table in any of these proposals – but thats is not realistic to implement when you look on the arena and the agents / actors at play – so i have personally decided to compromise on what i as a person think is the optimal structure – into one i find will be representative of most of the community in the best way.

    1. > You will always compromise – a business is owned and often run by someone who decides what the goal is – and that makes is easier to make a plan of change thats realisticly something that can be implemented.

      What I propose is something which can be realistically implemented. I have done it in many organisations myself and the company I worked for had done it in even more. The common feature is that nobody enforces an organisation change. The actors need to feel that it’s their own choice, understanding why the change is necessary. That’s change management. You set off to make a change without wanting to manage the change process. That’s never going to bear any fruit.

      > We do not have an owner or a CEO – on the contrary we have many different interests and parties that will work within the structure – so in any case the structure is a compromise between whats ideal and whats possible.

      My analysis DOES NOT have a figurehead. Your proposal DOES HAVE the OSM president at the top since the entire leadership is under OSM.

      Regarding the unrelated passages you quoted: they do not answer any of the concerns I raised.

      > That is really the big difference here – we expect Teams to work together directly – without having to go up a classicial corporate command structure where it travels up the chain and then down again to the other team

      You have it wrong. The leadership is not acting as a choke point of information. The leaders facilitate their teams in knowing which other team they have to communciate with and ensure they provide progress reports and action plans which are visible to any other team and the wider community. It’s not a traditional corporate structure. This structure has been found to be ineffective in organisations since the late 1970’s. Information does flow horizontally, but there’s transparency which leads to accountability.

      Accountability doesn’t mean being able to fire and hire people. It means that everyone knows what Ronni and Nick are up to, what is their progress and if they are found to be inefficient they have to be replaced. After all there’s a Code of Conduct binding leadership team members, you just need someone with the balls to enforce it. That’s why I proposed the independent third party oversight committee where CoC violations would be brought to for resolution, therefore nullifying the reluctancy in enforcing the CoC which has plagued Joomla! this past decade.

      > Gaming and accountability

      I beg to differ, but that’s a technical detail. The two most important reasons for having three members of each department in the global leadership are a. spreading the workload among an adequate number of volunteers and b. giving all departments an equal say to project-wide decisions.

      > Not a single person has made a proposal in the documents to insert a new team in the top

      It’s not about adding a new team. It’s about having an existing unrelated team (OSM) effectively be in charge.

      > They claim that OSM is taking all power so its a massive corporate top-down structure – but on the same time they say it doesnt work if there is no middle leader and leader levels that continues to be based on DO’ers whos managing (and not leading).

      The problem is NOT about having a leadership team at the top. There is always a leadership team at the top, no matter how flat your structure is, unless you are a single person venture. What EVERYONE ELSE is telling you and YOU DON’T WANT TO LISTEN is that the problem is WHICH team is at the top. In your proposal it’s OSM. Everyone is saying that OSM should ONLY be the legal and financial guardian of the project, not its leadership structure.

      > The intention / goal was not to give OSM all the power – but to reduce OSM to primarily Fiscal and Legal issues

      Yet you do the opposite by making the coordinators part of OSM, ergo answering to its president. That’s what everyone is complaining about. Can’t you listen?

      > If this is the core of the difference of opinion – then i dont understand why noone had added in more proposals to (more) clearly define what OSM can and can not do in the ST9 proposal.

      The fundamental flaw in ST9 is that the leadership and OSM are not separated at all. How can anyone propose reducing the role of OSM when OSM is controlling the leadership? What you are asking people to do doesn’t make sense. So what people do is offer counter-proposals with one common theme: OSM is outside the leadership structure, offerring legal and financial assistance to the project.

      In detail. OSM should do exactly two things: a. own the trademark and copyright and resolve issues regarding trademark and copyright b. handle the income of the project and redistribute it to further its goals be it marketing, infrastructure, events organisation or programmes like JET, Joomla! Code Sprints and new ventures such as let’s say JSoC (sponsoring students to contribute to the project under a volunteer mentor). OSM does not have a voting right in project leadership and cannot hire or fire leadership members. The global leadership should vote who gets on the OSM board and nobody should be able to be in any leadership position and any OSM position at the same time (no duality). As simple as that.

      > The proposal is not cut in stone – its a live and if people chip in we can work our way through it.

      Yet for every single counter-proposal you are reading, which is completely opposite to yours, you reply with the same bullet points which tells everyone that you are not interested in a counter-proposal and your ST9 proposal is set in stone. This doesn’t make me –or anyone else– trust any of you as leaders. Leaders listen. Leaders inspire people. Leaders don’t order people.

      > You could actually even suggest a ULT concept into the current structure. You could make a proposal to limit OSMs power. You could make many other proposals. But lets face it – very few of the most vocal critics has done so.

      Yes they have. Yes, *I* have. The major thing here is –and let me state it once more– that OSM SHOULD IN NO CASE BE THE LEADERSHIP CONTAINER. OSM SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE. If you factor that in your ST9 proposal we have a common starting ground and we will be doing a discussion on the specifics: how WGs elect department coordinators, how many department coordinators are there, what the deaprtment coordinators team is called, how information flows and how they communicate with OSM for legal and financial assistance. As you can see we’ve all addressed some or all of these points. However YOU are not willing to discuss these counter-proposals because you want to put OSM in charge. Considering that you are a member of the OSM and your proposal makes current OSM memebers the de factor project leaders there’s a huge conflict of interest which you don’t want to be addressed.

      > They do not seem to be interested in taking part in the proces – instead they started throwing stones and then went on to blog posts later – i think this could have been a different and more constructive proces.

      For crying out loud, Ronni, YOU ASKED people to write their proposals instead of merely complaining. So they did. In the blog posts. Exactly as you asked them to. First you are complaining that people don’t contribute ideas and solutions, then you complain that people do contribute ideas.

      > But we where tasked as a working group under a combined leadership to work with this – 22 (63%) leadership members voted for, 7 (20%) voted against, 4 (11,5%) abstained and the last 2 (5,5%) didnt vote.

      9 ot of 22 were the people who proposed the change and who porpose themselves as the new leaders under the new scheme. Excuse me, but it’s not very democratic having people to vote whether they should get more power than they already have.

      > All blog posts that are made, all feedback given, all alternative proposals etc. is something we read and consider as input – but we would still prefer if people would make proposals in the documents that are shared in each round as this is the proces that is running.

      And that’s the problem, Ronni. People are telling you that they do not agree with the proposed structure. You are saying that the proposed structure is not set in stone but you wave off anyone who proposes a different structure and then complain that they didn’t offer a suggestion.

      > Making large comments in all documents that this is not a leadership proces when its untrue is simply trying to destroy the proces – its not constructive at all.

      You have not let everyone with a vested interest in the project to comment on the proposal and you are not willing to accept any counter-proposal. How is THAT constructive? In your mind the only “constructive” thing is everyone blindly agreeing and giving you the go-ahead. Sorry, we can’t agree with something that is fundamentally wrong in that it doesn’t address any of the current dysfunctions in the organisation and introduces even more dysfunctions. We honestly want to help you, but you need to stop talking and start listening. Remember why Joomla! was born. Don’t make the same mistakes Miro did (say one thing and do the exact opposite).

  4. Very quickly in 3 parts:

    1) Flawed logics & Assumptions

    You are fundamentally flawed on some very important key assumptions and logics.

    The structure working group is NOT the 9 people in the St9 proposal.

    The teams (working groups) would elect the entire new leadership.

    So 0 of the current people would stay in their positions – i would assume that the 9 elected people would have a high chance to originate from the current 35 leaders.

    Out of these i would imagine most would come from CLT and PLT since they have the most teams under them – and therefore should have a better propability of getting elected by their peers.

    2) Any input is welcome – and definition of team task

    The proces that was decided was to do it in 3 rounds of getting feedback, input and suggestions to the structure proposal.

    Right now we are in the midst of round 2.

    None is rejecting ideas or input.

    None has said they reject proposals in the form of blog posts.

    None has said they reject counter proposals.

    Once round 2 is done – it goes to round 3.

    Part of the transition from round 2 to round 3 is a “merging process” of suggestions, proposals and ideas.

    Suggestions to alterations are easier to implement into an existing document that already has multiple people working on them and suggesting things.

    Suggestions to replace the entire proposal is different and they entail a different process.

    If the leadership does not vote in (by atleast 2/3rd of the vote) the final result of the ST9 Proposal – it will fail.

    In that case then its time to look for alternatives.

    But as the proces is running and whats been planned and tasked by the combined leadership as a whole by vote (those 22 vs. 7) that is the task of the ST9 working group.

    So to make it very clear – It is not the task of the ST9 working group to replace the proposal with full alternatives – this is a task for the leadership as a whole.

    The ST9 Working group has a clear task and mandate – and thats what we work after.

    Simply put – we do not have the mandate to do that and we can not work beyond the mandate we have.

    If you want to work within the current structure proposal and mandate of the ST9 working group i would suggest making concrete suggestions and proposals to change that document.

    3) OSM or not to OSM

    Its funny that so much can be in a word 🙂

    We have a legal obligation to have a OSM – personally i can see both a ULT and a OSM model working – i dont think it does that big of a difference in the end if the rest of the structure is based on bottom-up, accountability, votingright by merit etc.

    Some people claim that if we had called the new structure in the top something else than OSM it would have been fine.

    Some other people – because there is many interests in this – are very much against a lot of elements in both ST9 and JMBT proposal – some believe all people in the community should have a vote and others again dont trust anyone else to make sure the community and project as a whole makes it.

    In the end we need to find a middle ground between all these different people and their ideas and opinions.

    Also please remember the people that shout the most are not allways representative of the community as a whole – what strikes me the most so far is the lack of input from so many parts of our community whos actually already in rounds 1 and 2.

    Why are so many people not taking part in the debate?

    That is truely an interesting question.

    1. 1. I can’t debate these points unless I see the exact wording. Please don’t take my silence as acceptance or rejection of your points. I simply can’t comment as I need more information which will –hopefully– be provided in round 3.

      2. On the topic of “None has said they reject counter proposals”. Yes, nobody has spelled it out like that. But you –and I mean you, personally– have taken up the task of throwing a massive attack against anyone stating a different opinion. Some things you don’t have to spell out; your actions talk louder than your words. You make anyone with a different opinion feel unwelcome.

      “So to make it very clear – It is not the task of the ST9 working group to replace the proposal with full alternatives – this is a task for the leadership as a whole.” There is a problem here. The leadership is called to vote for or against a single proposal. If the options you have are a. doing nothing, sticking with a broken system or b. do something, even though it doesn’t sound great then OF COURSE you’ll vote for option b. I don’t see the leadership being clear on the concept that a negative vote doesn’t mean that option a is adopted and other structures can be discussed. Since you are a *Governance* Working Group it’s YOUR job to put the alternative option (look for a different plan) up for voting. IMHO there should be three voting options: 1. Do nothing 2. Adopt ST9 3. Find a different plan. These should be your voting options. Otherwise you are gaming the system to your favour and you know it.

      3. “We have a legal obligation to have a OSM – personally i can see both a ULT and a OSM model working – i dont think it does that big of a difference in the end”. There is a huge difference. OSM handles lawyers and money. You don’t want either in a leadership structure which handles business. Ronni, everyone is telling you that. I don’t know, are you ignoring everyone on purpose or are you too enchanted by your own vision to understand that what you are doing has a fatal flaw? If the people who handle money also handle business they will eventually try to maximise the revenue. That’s not in line with the nature of Joomla!. That doesn’t inspire any trust in the leadership.

      “Also please remember the people that shout the most are not allways representative of the community as a whole” That’s an aphorism, not an argument. In this very specific case everyone I know except you are AGAINST having OSM in the leadership structure for the concrete reason I outlined above. You’re like Marie Antoinette. There’s a riot outside and you’re oblivious to it.

      “what strikes me the most so far is the lack of input from so many parts of our community whos actually already in rounds 1 and 2.” Ronni, you have personally bullied everyone who spoke their mind until they gave up talking to a brick wall. The others who disagree and are conflict-averse, like most humans, are now afraid to speak their mind because you will try to intimidate them. Then you complain about lack of input.

      People can read, Ronni. They read how you’re trying to convince everyone that there’s no feedback when the Internet’s abound of counter-proposals and criticism to which YOU HAVE RESPONDED. In your responses to this feedback you’re trying to tell us that what you commented on doesn’t exist or doesn’t count as feedback because… no reason, just because you say so. There’s a cognitive disconnect here and it has already caused a loss of trust to you and your proposal. It’s not too late to be a true leader and acknowledge the feedback. Continuing to do otherwise is damaging to you, your proposal, OSM and Joomla! as a whole. People don’t trust someone who’s not willing to even acknowledge what they comment on, you know.

  5. First I want to say I think there is a lot of good wisdom and insight here in Nicholas’ ideas. I like that his approach reflects a close integration of structure and process.

    I also like that his approach seems to start with a clean slate and looking first at how to resolve existing issues with barriers and bottlenecks, and to build an organization that can be effective within the limitations of depending on volunteers.

    I also like how the concept of a change management process is described. I think that shows a depth of thinking and insight that has been missing in previous proposals, including those in 2011 and 2012.

    I also like the idea of bringing in some outside experts for additional guidance and insight, such as from a university. That same idea was proposed in 2012 after that leadership structure proposal was rejected, but the idea didn’t move forward.

    I don’t agree with one of the ideas mentioned here by Ronni – that we can trust our mostly independent and autonomous volunteer teams to consistently accomplish their work. In my time on CLT and OSM, I have seen too many examples where volunteers at all levels begin with good intentions for a role or task, but then over time progress stalls or disappears, for a variety of reasons.

    I can see where ideas such as accountability and reporting requirements can be seen as a burden, or removing the fun from volunteering. But I believe if we want Joomla to continue to grow and remain a leader in the FOSS CMS space, it is really important to have a structure with clear expectations and accountability for all volunteers, and processes that hold everyone to reasonable standards. If we are not willing to accept those ideas, we should accept that Joomla will likely be passed by other FOSS CMS projects that have a clearer vision and more focused culture.

    I think Joomla needs a clearer, more specific and more comprehensive published blueprint for “what we believe and how we work together”, that reflects our vision for important ideas such as process, leadership, goals, fun, collaboration, inclusiveness, etc. I think Nicholas’ ideas give a fresh perspective and a good start on that.

    Finally, I want to say I believe the ST9 group has the best intentions to help Joomla. Regardless of how much anyone might disagree with the specifics of their proposal, the ST9 group deserves our thanks and support for their efforts in this process. Ronni has taken it upon himself to be the most vocal member of the ST9 group, and I especially appreciate his continued willingness to be present here and in lots of other places – explaining, discussing, and debating in a respectful way.

  6. 2) The Governance Working Group did its work and supplied a series of models and concepts to OSM as it was tasked.

    This was also presented to the leadership teams in general and CLT and PLT decided they wanted to be a part of the proces working on new structures.

    That is why the entire Leadership as a whole tasked a new working group of 3 CLT, 3 PLT and 3 OSM to work with a new proposal – which foundation was created at JAB14 during the Make it Happen sessions.

    This new ST9 Working Group is not the Governance Working Group which had a task and mandate from OSM alone – but much of the findings of the GWG has been part of the underlaying idea catalog for ST9.

    Then later the leadership voted to continue this proces.

    There could have been a different path in this – but the ST9 Working Group is working under the mandate and task it was given.

    To be honest at this point there is no planned Plan B if this structure proposal is not adopted – and the ST9 Working Group can not make a Plan B without a mandate from the leadership as a whole.

    3) Its always dangerous to include “everyone” – so far everyone is perhaps 10-15 people who are always pretty vocal in their opinions.

    Based on input from people in general i can only conclude very clearly that there is no “everyone” – there is many different groups and individuals who have very different ideas.

    There is clearly a welldefined group of people who does not like the “top” organ to be named OSM – that message is recieved.

    But a lot of the people who have said so – has also stated many things that are factually wrong in terms of what the proposal offers and intends – so as one of the vocal members of ST9 by task has been to go into dialoque and take the debates and try and make sure that people understood that our proposal was in fact a decentralist bottom-up proposal.

    Lets face it – most of the initial critique was not factual but was based on feelings and and underlaying assumption of what was the intension of the ST9 proposal.

    Even today in your own comments have you stated multiple assumptions that are not true – they are clearly defined and written in the documents but you have gotten a wrong impression because some people have been spreading the ideas that the ST9 proposal was only there to “put the 9 people in power” – nothing could be farther from the truth.

    So while i have been persistent in my part in the debate – i have perhaps been it primarily because others have not.

    Having to put your back to slander, personal attacks and bullying from various people because they disagree on something is not how our community should act or debate.

    Maybe its worth considering why not more people has taken part in the debate.

    And yes people can read – people can also read that i have not in a single comment any where called anyone for anything but have constantly gone after the ball and not the player.

    Its ok to disagree – its ok to have a different opinion – its ok to believe you have seen the light in some sense and others havent – but to assume you are communicating on behalf of everyone is not really something that furthers a good debate.

    Paul: The reason why OSM (or the organ that handles such cases) can dissolve teams is exactly in the case where a team or team leader is not living up to that responsibility and freedom they have.

    If the alternative is to micromanage and not lead – then the foundational question is do we believe we can create a structure that empowers teams to be independantly functional or not?

    Most interestingly you will find that the feedback sofar on the ST9 proposal centers around 2 main divides arguing against.

    Those that think that more people should be include and have a right to vote etc. and there should be even less oversight.

    And those who believe there should be more leadership and more structure with management levels responsible for that.

    No matter how you “paint the picture” then adding clear reporting and control chains in a structure means objectively that you are imposing a top-down hierachy – that is the definition of a top-down hierachy – you answer upwards (do feel welcome to visit all organizational theory).

    So to summarize – everyone is in fact atleast 3 major parties (ill add a variance).

    1) Those who believe there should be even less oversight than in ST9

    2a) Those who believe ST9 is a fair level

    2b) Those who believe ST9 is a fair level – but OSM should be on the side with Legal and Financials only while the remaining facilitation should be in another team which could be called ULT

    3) Those who believe ST9 is way too loosely structured and too decentralist and believe there should be more control chains and reporting upwards – which would be the JMBT proposal – or perhaps the Nicholas Proposal or perhaps to some extend Dukes ULT proposal.

    In reality there is even more positions – this is oversimplified but i am just proving a point.

    There is no Everyone – stop talking for Everyone – be honest and clear in your own goals and what you think is important and communicate it – then we can atleast have that debate.

    If the majority believe we should be leaning more towards a model 3 (plus minus variations) then thats where we should end.

    But in the end we should be able to debate this on the actual differences between models and concepts in openness and then decide what we want.

    1. Ronni, I want change and everyone who’s been exposed to the dysfunctional Joomla! organisation wants it too. You know we agree on the most part. My proposal and your proposal both have a flat structure with a different number of departments and the same level of secondary structure. We use different words, but it’s essentially the same. We have some differences in the implementation details of that part of the structure, e.g. how many coordinators you need per department to not wear them thin, but that’s something we can discuss. We have two fundamental differences regarding putting leadership under OSM and accountability by means of reporting but you’re not willing to discuss. Instead, you pretend that my proposal is more centralised when it actually has one level LESS than yours (there’s no OSM president, even nominally, above the leadership team I suggested).

      Now let me reply to the personal bits. I communicate on behalf of myself and only myself, not anyone else. I merely told you that one of the points I made is being made by every single person opposing your proposal. You never replied to any of them individually, or me individually, why exactly you believe that having OSM in the leadership is not a concern. I told why I –personally, being Nicholas, representing myself and only myself, not as the representative of an imaginary group of people– is a bad idea and backed it up with arguments. You never backed up your position with any argument. You just wave it off. Please do respond with arguments. To me.

      I’ve also not said that I’ve seen the light. If you had REALLY read my post you’d have noticed that I spent two paragraphs explaining why my proposal will not lead to a perfect structure and the Promised Land. I have the objective qualification of talking about organisation restructuring because of my experience on doing exactly that. I don’t pretend I have all the answers. I just presented an analysis of what’s wrong and a nascent, partial and rough plan on how to solve it. Don’t you find it amazing that for the most part our views coincide? I came to my conclusions based on a well tested methodology. You came to your conclusions… in whatever way. There’s a lot of common ground. If you accuse me that I’ve seen the light then you are saying that you, too, have seen the light? What the heck, did we all have a spiritual experience? Did Joomla! become a religion? 😀

      In any case, from your response it’s pretty clear that you don’t want to discuss, which is a damn shame. You think that stubbornly sticking to your guns means that you are consistent. I am sorry to tell you, but they way it looks from down here is that you are an arrogant asshole. I know you personally and I DAMN WELL KNOW that you are NOT an arrogant asshole (you are just stubborn like a Viking; your words). Please, do open up a channel where we can discuss the foundations of your proposal without prejudice. It’s too damn stupid that we agree on the most part but have to collide so hard because you’re unwilling to discuss the only points anyone opposing your proposal, myself included, disagrees with. Your proposal and all counter proposals have a lot of common ground. We all want change. But we do need to talk about it.

  7. Thank you Ronni for responding to one of my points and correctly stating that ST9 allows OSM to remove non-performing teams or team leaders.

  8. Nice post but it’s too late. The shit already hit the fan and nothing can stop it. No matter what you are going to restructure with the leadership or change in the development process of joomla will prevent the ship from sinking. Joomla is hard coded as dead into the minds of users (unlike Drupal which always had a rock solid and loyal user base).

    However, the mistakes have been done long ago, when the joomla leadership at that time did an awesome job killing huge chunks of the community by forcing fellow community members with joomla fansites to change their domain names for the sake of protecting the “brand”, owned by the OSM. I saw numerous sites simply shutting down because of that or handing them over to other people who transformed them to general CMS sites (and now, WP-only ones). With them they took thousands of readers and potential joomla users.

    In the short run, these actions led to a total centralization on joomla.org. Every finger on the web pointed to joomla.org. Good for the moment but turned out, less and less people were talking positively about joomla.

    At the same time, hipster bloggers started to blog about their hipster WP in masses. Shitty code, crappy features, who gives? Quick after-install-success and talks about half-baked plugins and how to hack them, gave these guys the first time the chance to talk about something they actually never had a clue about. And from this WP still participates: these fellows still believe they are using the most sophisticated CMS ever, while it’s not even a CMS.

    On the WP side, I see people struggling with 2003-style PHP snippets, hacking the hell out of WP and then looking over their results, like they just have done a successful brain surgery and actually gathering hundreds and thousands of blog post views when having the guts to go public with their precious WP coding insights.

    Even Steve Jobs wasn’t able to create a similar reality distortion field as his products always have been technically top notch. So I have the deepest respect to WP-Matt’s success, simply because he knew he’d just have to wait until joomla starts to eats itself up from inside. As I said above, with a bit of thinking, back in 2009, when the OSM started to act against their own community, even a blind could easily understand to what it will lead.

    Matt did the maths and all he needed to do was waiting and adding patch over patch, a few features here and there and give people the illusion of an ever-backwards-compatible CMS that works out of the box (if you just patch around and actually don’t refactoring nothing except the administration css, of course everything will be backwards compatible).

    How did joomla look compared to this? After a great 1.5 release that worked like hell with just a few key features missing, somebody from the team had the great idea for 1.6 to create 1) the shittiest admin template ever (bluestork), 2) the most awful rights management in the history of a CMS and 3) the glorious idea of long term and short term support releases that totally made people think “wait, my joomla will be dead in 2 years?? Wait, what about WP?”.

    You can’t do that. You can’t systematically hunt down your own community and then irritate professional users with LTS / STS releases.

    The same, sorry, crap continued with joomla3: over years we had 2 versions lurking around (2.5 and 3x), irritating people even more. Then badly implemented features like tags, the world’s first non-responsive responsive admin template (yes, partially responsive, try it out) and the hilarious idea to hard-code bootstrap into joomla, forcing everybody to use a hopelessly outdated version of bootstrap now.

    You get the point? This doesn’t have nothing to do with the current leadership or the structure at all. It also doesn’t have nothing to do with loosely connected developers. There are far more successful open source projects than joomla that have both, bureaucracy and anarchy-style development but an increasing popularity (the kernel of one is ticking in 60% of the smartphones these days).

    It has something to do with the fact that joomla is dead, it just doesn’t know about it yet. It has been nearly dead already in 2012 but no one wanted to listen while the numbers were already clear at that time.

    Thinking that joomla will ever gain even 1-2% percent back from its market share just by restructuring the leadership (according to w3techs, just 7.8% left, tendency -0.1% loss every month since years), is a total illusion and a lie to the rest of the fragmented community.

    If anything would be revivable here and if the current people behind joomla had the guts, they’d have to act now (I mean right in the minute) and do exactly like this:

    1) Re-design the entire joomla site, 2005 is definitely past.

    2) Put a person in charge who is cool, best is a geek with communication skills who speaks to the community frequently through a blog post that goes through all channels (giving joomla a face that the majority can identify with, doesn’t mean that he decides anything)

    3) Create frequent buzz by professional marketing guys. Currently there is no marketing at all, the people from the marketing group are actually doing everything but marketing (if they do, point me where, so I can check the places where they hide it).

    4) Change the trademark rules, allow people to use joomla in domains and allow them notto pollute their sites with joomla copyright symbols as it looks too business-alike to people (like joomla costs money, you know). Be officially nice and earn karma, open joomla to all sides.

    5) Minor is the new major: 1-2 new features per minor release, bloated up to 1000% buzz as in 3), rest bugfixes. Over a span for at least 12 months not breaking nothing, not even the slightest thing. UN-deprecate current code and leave a compatibility layer like we had for the 1.0-1.5 transition but on a permanent basis. Keeps 3rd party developers motivated.

    6) Backwards compatibility officially being taken into the project’s philosophy (also widely buzzed), no matter what it costs and no matter who and how many self-promoted OOP gurus will start to whine.

    7) finding back to what joomla once stood for: alltogether as a whole and not alltogether as an asshole.

    You don’t need to restructure anything, just do. I mean, is it that hard to just do things??

    However, since I don’t think any of these points will be picked up, I might silently say goodbye too joomla somwhere in the year 2015, when joomla’s decline is too huge to balance out things.

    It has been a great time and despite my negative views of things above, I must say thank you to all who put these millions of hours into the project. I met people that I never wouldn’t have met before, shared knowledge and – not always – wisdom and had more fun than I’ve ever had in other projects.

    And very special thanks to Nicholas, imho one of the most important persons to joomla!

    By the way, my personal opinion: Joomla rocks, WP sucks…spread the word 😉

  9. Dumb question from a someone with superficial knowledge of Joomla community and none about reorganizations:

    I understand why business organizations need to “refactor their organizations” first when they have issues, but why are you people even talking about how to reorganize a large, informal organization of volunteers when your major issue (agreed by all?) is information flow. Shouldn’t you FIRST fix the information issue in an informal manner (this is the part that doesn’t work for business) and THEN talk about reorganizing iteratively based on the information you now have. You all seem to think that you need a big reorganization RIGHT NOW and can then make things work afterwards with better organization, but seriously all you seem to need urgently (uninformed opinion from the outside) is a system for easily sharing and combining some basic information. Can’t you just add all that to the issue tracker? A system for issue owners to report their progress and issues. For public and other volunteers to see open issues, their progress and needs. For volunteers to report their availability and competence. A two-way system for needs and volunteers to meet. Well, there is no point for uninformed person such as myself to elaborate. The point is that all the organization you really need to fix RIGHT NOW is the part managing development and resource information. And that is not only much smaller issue, but largely a technical one. Something that you people are generally much better at handling than large reorganizations. Obviously you’ll still need to agree and implement an efficient organization to manage the information management “division”.

    And of course, once you have information and resource management working, you can start reorganizing the rest from bottom up, step by step, with proper reporting and reflection at every step (because information management is already working). Then just iterate. Eventually you’ll reach a point where you can do a large reorganization properly. Right now, not only do you seem not to have a proper system for planning the reorganization, but I am (hopefully wrongly) pretty certain you don’t have a proper system for tracking and fixing the “bugs” any reorganization will have. Because you need working information management to do that and a reorganization done specifically to improve information flow is not going to have that available during implementation.

    To reiterate just a “Dumb question from a someone with superficial knowledge of Joomla community and none about reorganizations”, but comments do not have quality requirements?

  10. Just to correct this statement from Ronni

    “Everyone is accountable and you have a accountability loop in place thats coming from the bottom and up – not the other way around (like in the JMBT proposal).”

    As in our proposal regular reporting is PUBLIC for EVERYONE to see then it is very much bottom up accountability.

  11. Thanks guys, great that discussions like this with old Joomlers take place bcs they are very important. And this discussions are good to do regularly and also certainly make Joomla and Joomla community better for sure. I though think Joomla have improved that last 1-2 years in this area? The new Joomla people understand more about this now than before.

    I also tried several years ago to talk to help Louis L to create a Joomla vision, strategy and execution for better guideline into Joomlas future function direction. No luck.

    And I still think that this type of analysis also should involve people skilled in this area and it maybe not the coders that have this best global visionary helicopter view of what is best for Joomla business dev in the short- and long run. So its not involve people only focused about improved code, choice of JavaScript (Mootools Jquery) but also let people come in to Joomla to improve the organisation, communication, functions, usability improvements, marketing- and business strategy etc.

    So Joomla must know where its heading and why it exists for all users at all levels.

    So in my view its more about where Joomla in the future should strategically fit in with its usability and different functions that should be delivered for Joomlas user segments.

    I also like what Jack said no 2 bcs Joomla itself need a kind of “Joomlas evangelist” being the official voice of Joomla. Brian maybe you could step up and take this position buzzing Joomla world wide? And Joomla should strategically marketing a lot to universities world wide bcs there is the future Joomla enthusiast & Joomla ambassadors.
    ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
    “2) Put a person in charge who is cool, best is a geek with communication skills who speaks to the community frequently through a blog post that goes through all channels (giving joomla a face that the majority can identify with, doesn’t mean that he decides anything)”

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