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In the DebConf organising working group sessions at DebConf14, there was an agreement that DebConf orga would be re-structured in teams each of which with a clear and documented membership. The first composition of teams was formalized with the help of the DebConf Chairs, by means of a Canvassing process among team members.

During DC15, the structure was reviewed and adapted, and is still open for comments from the larger orgateam. An agreement should be met soon since this will be our work platform towards DC16.

Check the Discussion session below for comments regarding the current proposed changes (please help us keep this session up-to-date).

This team structure aims at empowering the DebConf organization team with:

  • Clearer decision-making processes
  • Better-defined team membership
  • Better-defined team responsibilities
  • Team membership that continues from year to year
  • Clearer time-line for the DebConf year
  • Clearer documentation on agreed processes
  • Low number of top-level teams (always seeking for the balance of bureaucracy)

This page will be used as a reference for the current team composition, with links to pages describing each individual group membership, roles and procedures.


[edit] The ideal team

We are all aware that ideals are not real, but we understand that we should collectivelly aim for:

  • A healthy team environment
  • Enough members, so that no one feels overloaded
  • Fresh blood at every cycle, possibly integrating part of bidding team
  • No one being indispensable (a single point of failure): knoweledge should be shared, and possibly critical tasks should be done by subteams.
  • A clear idea of the team's duties shared by all members
  • A good communication among teams (quick deadlock discovery)
  • Well-documented processes
  • A yearly team schedule

[edit] Functioning of Teams

  • It's expected that people that are local to one conference will participate actively in the organization. There is no specific team for this, as they should distribute themselves across the teams, while having their own internal organization;
  • Every orga team member (including locals) should belong to one of the teams listed below. Ideally, people would remain part of a team for at least a couple of DebConf editions;
  • Teams are empowered to take decisions within their realms, but the wider orga team must be consulted whenever contentious decisions are to be taken;
  • Teams may organise internally as they wish, people working on some task inside a bigger team are not necessarily interested in other tasks;
  • Big hierarchical structure should be avoided whenever possible. Potential sub-teams can alternatively be thought of as tasks/responsibilities/roles. However, if a sub-structure is defined, people from outside the team should not need to be aware of that, the team lead should be ready to respond to any issue under the responsibility of the team;
  • To prevent situations of burnouts as previously experienced, teams should avoid letting full responsibilities in one person's hands. Creating a culture of sharing the work will also facilitate the rotation of people at specific roles;
  • Teams are encouraged to send reliable reports to dc-team before general meetings.
  • Each team is responsible for:
    • creating and maintaining relevant documentation about its processes;
    • maintaining an updated list of members and assigned roles (lead, shadow, advisors and local liaison)
    • deciding the ideal schedule and frequency of meetings, according to its members availability.

[edit] Roles and responsibilities

  • Lead: provides guidance to the team, and makes sure the team delivers on its responsibilities in time. The lead needs to keep track of ongoing tasks, to realise when things are getting behind schedule, but also to provide effective communication with the rest of the orga team: it needs to be the team's first point of contact.
  • Shadow: works closely with the lead -- it can be seen as a preparatory or backup position, since the shadow would be the natural substitute in case of lead absence.
  • Advisor(s): experienced member(s) who may not be active every day, but can have an important role in giving advice and dealing with complex issues.
  • Local liason: someone from the localteam that follows the team's work and reports back to the other locals.

[edit] Comments on team leads

  • The most important thing and our final target is to organize the best possible DebConf. Thus the team lead, as well as the whole team, should help reaching this ultimate goal.
  • While we expect that people with specialised knowledge may wish to lead related teams, specialised knowledge is not a requirement to be a lead. It is more of an organisational role than a technical one.
  • A team lead is first and foremost a coordinator, not a boss. Sometimes, specially when things are not progressing, a coordinator needs to get bossy, but that should not be the default behaviour.
  • The lead needs to be aware of the team's responsbilities and tasks, make sure they happen in time, and that they happen *inside* the team. This might sound feudal, but it is more a matter of respecting each team's duties and workflows than about territoriality.
  • A team is not a group of one: the lead must ensure that the team has enough active people, and recruit new members when needed. The lead should not be doing all the work (even if that sometimes seems like the easiest way to get things done), but distributing and coordinating it.
  • The lead has to strive for consensus, to listen to criticism, but also to step in and make a decision when none can be achieved spontaneously. DebConf has deadlines, each team has its own deadlines, and other teams rely on them. The lead needs to make sure these are observed, to plan in advance, and communicate properly when they are going to be missed. The lead should not commit to deadlines that are unrealistic.
  • Nobody should be forced to do something they don't want to do. But the NMU threshold -within the team- should be *low*. And making sure that happens is part of the lead's role.
  • Leads can be offline or unreacheable for a while. It is their responsibility to ensure that there are others who act as shadows: the shadows need to be able to step in whenever the lead is not available. Every team should have an accepted representative at every global meeting.
  • The most valuable asset in a volunteer organisation is its volunteers. Therefore, we should aim to keep the majority of the team members motivated and happy about the team work.
  • like in Debian, leads and shadows --and also team members-- should try to step aside smoothly when the time comes (and ideally be available to help/advice their replacements).

[edit] Current teams

Responsibilities and tasks are distributed among the following core teams, each of which have their own tasks and work-flows, that most of the times can be performed independently from the other teams. In addition to those, there is a coordination team, a bid selection team (DebConf Committee) and the DebConf Chairs.

Lead/Shadow/Advisor roles to be reviewed in September 2015, the following ones are still from 2014 teams.

[edit] Content team

Responsible for defining the content of the conference.

Some tasks: schedule scheme, CFP, talk/session selection and scheduling, inviting guest speakers, and anything related to the content of the conference.

  • Lead: René Mayorga
  • Advisor: Ana Guerrero López

More information: Teams/Content

[edit] Participant assistance team

Responsible for the attendee well-being and assistance.

Some tasks: frontdesk, registration, room assignment, visa, on-site volunteer recruitment, feedback management, definition of bursaries rules, recruitment and coordination of the bursaries committee.

  • Lead: Nattie Mayer-Hutchings
  • Shadow: Giacomo Catenazzi

More information: Teams/Assistance

[edit] Facilities team

Responsible for working on venue, accommodation and food arrangements for the conference.

Some tasks: accommodation, food and venue contracts and further negotiations on service details, provide venue for social events and provide childcare service (when arranged with the venue, otherwise - when setup by us - in close collaboration with the PA team).

To be set up for DC16, both lead and shadow positions are vacant.

More information: Teams/Facilities

[edit] Social Activities team

Responsible for planning and running social activities, such as birthday party, cheese and wine, conference dinner, daytrip any other oficial gathering.

Some tasks: define which social events that will happen in that DebConf edition, provide a plan for each of those events and request for comments from the bigger team, define a plan for children in each event (if they are expected to attend), recruit volunteers to work on the plan and its execution.

To be set up for DC16, both lead and shadow positions are vacant.

More information: Teams/SocialActivities

[edit] Fundraising team

Responsible for assuring that the enough funds is be collected for a successful conference to take place.

Some tasks: intersecting with wider Debian fundraising team, contacting potential sponsors, obtaining the necessary funds to run the conference.

  • Lead: Brian Gupta
  • Shadows: Steve Langasek, Patty Langasek

More information: Teams/Fundraising

[edit] Treasurer team

Responsible for budget and accounting.

Some tasks: gather budget needs per sub-team and propose the budget of the conference to be approved by the DebConf Chairs, accounting tasks before and during the conference.

  • Lead:
  • Shadow:

[edit] Infrastructure team

Responsible for assuring essential technology services for the conference.

Some tasks: sysadmin, website, conference management system, coordination of on-site network team.

  • Lead: Richard Hartmann
  • Shadow:

More information: Teams/Infrastructure

[edit] Video team

Responsible for assuring streaming and recording of conference sessions.

Some tasks: provide plan and budget for hardware needed to cover the number of rooms requested by the overall team, coordinate transportation and purchase of gear, setup and tear down of conference rooms, on-site coordination of videoteam volunteers.

To be set up for DC16, both lead and shadow positions are vacant.

  • Lead:
  • Shadow:

More information: Teams/Video

[edit] Coordination team

Responsible for the coordination of the first core teams: Content, Participant Assistance, Facilities, Social activities, Fundraising, Treasurer, Infrastructure and Video. Requires a broader view of the conference organization, and is instrumental on the other teams healthy functioning. Composed by key local organizers, the DebConf Chairs, and members of past years coordination.

Some tasks: keeping track of the DebConf calendar and time-line (though each team should also be doing this), "poker" role, watch for problems in teams, request processes be documented, call for general meetings, etc.

  • Lead: Margarita Manterola
  • Shadow:
  • Advisor:

More information: Teams/Coordination

[edit] DebConf Committee

This team is gathered every year by the DebConf Chairs for choosing the next DebConf location. It will be composed by representatives from the teams (not necessarily the lead), representatives of the wider Debian community and the DebConf Chairs.

Some tasks: study, question and interact with the bids, producing a conclusion by a specified date, avoiding a public decision-making meeting.

Current members:

  •  ?

[edit] DebConf Chairs

This team can be seen as a consulting body. They try to oversee each team's processes and detect problems, while interfering as little as possible with the normal functioning of the organisation. The Chairs are also responsible for gathering the DebConf committee, define bid selection rules, recruit and assign bid mentors. The DebConf Chairs are the only team delegated by the DPL.

Current members:

  • none

Delegation: Teams/Chairs

[edit] Discussion

Summary of comments/concerns raised on debconf-team mailing list regarding the current proposed changes to dc-orga structure.

1) Split of infra and video teams

No objection so far.

2) Creation of Social activities and Treasurer teams

<mbanck> maybe social activities does not make sense

<marga> I don't object to these new teams but they will have an extremely high turn-over, while we could have only the local team with such a high turnover, but I'm fine with accepting that there's a bunch of teams in the same situation.

<nkukard> +1

3) Implementation of a Facilities team

<madduck> this team is a dead end

<tassia> even if it is largely composed by local people, we expected that some experienced members would be there to follow the key decisions, at least as advisors. <indiebio> We need someone in this team who can look at contracts, and the legal liability side and how that interacts between local and e.g. SPI. Facilities is organised and managed by locals, but at some point it interfaces with DebConf and that is where experienced members need to assist. Things to know include, what worked in the past, what did others do (in terms of e.g. creating their own company) what did that legal structure look like? etc.

4) Different composition for coordination team: key local organizers, the DebConf Chairs, and members of past years coordination

<marga> "possibly" members of past years coordination. Who decides if this is the case or not?

<tassia> "possibly" was removed from the proposal, bad wording

<mbanck> should have the consent of the team

<tassia> (coord lead + shadow + each team leads + other people not really involved in this years conference) didn't really function as a team. Moreover, we didn't really think of how it would have to change from year to year. What we are proposing is that each year we give space for the new locateam to coordinate along with the previous years coordination. That would be a good way to transfer experience, knowledge and responsibilities.

<indiebio> From my perspective as part of DC16: We do a lot of work before the bid, and then there is a year where we are left on our own, and we try to get input from IRC, and form a team that is local as well as people who helped on IRC, so already feel part of the e.g. DC16 team by the time we meet in person. But then, after DC15 there is suddenly all these people coming to the party and adding their opinion, without having introduced themselves, without putting it into context, without understanding the context and dynamics that the DC16 team (some local and some global already) have been working in for more than a year. This creates friction. SO yes, the local organisers are already committed for the past year, they're in. There needs to be some experienced people to transfer the knowledge and build the 'institutional memory', but what is currently in existence is not working. Perhaps an adequate 'briefing document' or briefing meeting might fix that...

5) Bid process was removed from coord team responsibilities and attibuted to the Chairs

<mbanck> I'd expect some clear plan on how things should work out

<tassia> clear plan will be sent by the committee, the Chairs would only call the committee.

6) Localteam

<marga> I'd like to hear the reasons from the DC16 people for not having a localteam

<madduck> localteam is essential for how new ideas about the conference get developed and realised

<nkukard, alison, indiebio> distinction between local and global is an artificial one, and causes unnecessary tension. we feel we are one team.

<indiebio> It is not reasonable to ask people to choose between having a distinction between local and global or not if they don't know what it involves yet.

<alison> (1) we should work on communication and collaboration as a unified team; (2) identity: we're quite happy with the identity of "DebConf organizers"; (3) for social activities like the day trip and evening events, there's no reason that has to be exclusively local people, so it made more sense to just create a Social Activities team (same for facilities and budget)

<marga> we need a localteam for volunteers that will show up along the way

<jergas> a clear policy/roadmap for new or local volunteers to join the organization, one which both makes them feel welcome and lets them go only as deep as they feel comfortable, and maybe also some sort of mailing list and/or irc channel special for these volunteers which could be gatewayed/bridged into the standard ones.

<indiebio> new volunteers would be considered local (regardless of their physical location). I imagine these to be people who may only want to get involved with smaller or more specialised tasks, and not get involved in the greater strategy or whatever discussions.

<tassia> I like Jergas ideas, but those dedicated channels should be created for newbies, regardless if they are local or not

<eric> A safe environment to discuss DebConf in a given year's local language is one solid argument I've heard in the past in favor of a local team.

7) Communication

<marga> dc-team can be traumatic for new volunteers

<allison> flamewars aren't helpful to anyone. long-term team members aren't immune to being driven away by an unhealthy environment. Defining a localteam does not help with communication. Local members of the DebConf team need to make local volunteers feel welcome.

<eric> I'm sure I wasn't the only non-newcomer to walk away. non-local newcomers can be and probably have been put off by the disfunctions in the overall team environment.

<indiebio> maybe keep the local list (free of flame war)

<tassia> we are all vulnerable, we should work together for a healthier environment

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