[Foundation] A Vision for the Board

Peter Saint-Andre stpeter at jabber.org
Mon Jul 29 15:18:52 CDT 2002


Until now, the Board has played a minor role within the JSF. Indeed, the
only actions taken by the first Board have been to approve the Bylaws,
Articles of Incorporation, and initial members of the Foundation, and to
approve the purchase of two servers for use by the JSF and associated
projects (e.g., JabberStudio). The Board has been silent regarding the
Jabber trademark, the JSF's intellectual property rights policy, managing
the JabberPowered program, recruiting new sponsors, fundraising efforts,
and the like. Suffice it to say that the Board has taken a "hands-off"
approach to the management of the JSF, leaving decisions to the members or
to the executive team (Peter Saint-Andre and Andre Durand).

With the election of a new Board in August 2002, the JSF and its members
have an opportunity to change the role of the Board from passive to
active. Understanding what that really means takes some vision, however,
because the Board has been so passive until now. This document presents my
personal vision for the role that the Board of Directors can play within
the Jabber Software Foundation.

Some members might object that we don't really need or want an active
Board. After all, the JSF is a technical organization, so all we really
need is the Council, right? Well, that's one perspective, but it's not my
perspective, because I see a great deal of scope for business-oriented
leadership that can complement the technical leadership provided by the
Council (always recognizing that the JSF is a membership organization and
that all decisions need to be in the best interests of the members). Not
to mention that the Bylaws say we need a Board, so we'd better elect one.

An active Board can help move the Jabber community forward on many fronts.
Here are a few of the areas where I see the greatest potential benefit:

   1. Fundraising. It's a fact of life that certain activities require
money. For instance, there might be a lot of value in bringing core
developers together for focused discussions to solve problems like
pub/sub, security, and service discovery, and feature negotation. But to
do that, we may need to help defray travel costs for certain participants.
If the JSF has a fairly steady stream of income, it can make faster
technical progress. And Board members can help us raise money by
recruiting more sponsors and managing money-making activities like T-shirt
sales, specialized Linux distributions, and so on.

   2. Legal issues. Right behind the necessity for money comes the
necessity for a solid legal foundation to the JSF. Issues like the Jabber
trademark and the JSF's intellectual property rights policy need to be
worked out, sooner rather than later. The Board can provide leadership in
working through these issues, perhaps by working to find legal
professionals who are willing to provide pro bono assistance.

   3. Brand management. The JSF has done next to nothing with the
JabberPowered program. We need to set up technical standards, testing
suites, and a focused marketing effort that lets the world know how
important it is to be "JabberPowered". The Board can provide much of the
energy to define this program and encourage companies and open-source
projects to "come out of the closet" regarding their use of Jabber.

   4. Outreach. The Jabber community could benefit greatly by
collaborating with interested companies, universities, standards bodies
(e.g., IETF, W3C, Wireless Village), and open projects such as Apache,
KDE, DotGNU, and Creative Commons. Board members can actively pursue
opportunities for working with such organizations.

Some members might ask: do we really need a Board to get these things
done? Well, maybe not. But do we really need a Council to move the
protocol forward? Well, maybe not, but it sure helps. I see the
interactions between the JEP Editor and the Council as quite analogous to
the interactions between the Executive Director and the Board. Since I
currently fill the role of both JEP Editor and Executive Director, I know
that I could use help on the business side of things, because we haven't
made nearly as much progress on the items listed above as we have on the
protocol.

So my question is: who wants to step up and help with these things by
joining the Board? Oh sorry, I'll guess I'll ask that officially in my
next email. :)

And, of course, discussion of these topics is welcome!

Peter

--
Peter Saint-Andre
Jabber Software Foundation
http://www.jabber.org/people/stpeter.html




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