[Members] 2013 Board and Council Elections - questions for candidates

Ashley Ward ash.wardly at gmail.com
Wed Oct 16 14:31:40 UTC 2013


Hi All,

So my thoughts about what I expect the board to be doing this year. Well, a normal company board usually consists of several individuals overseeing different parts of the business.

Bearing this in mind, on one side I think there are two sides to the board's responsibilities:

1) Keeping the lights on - making sure that business as usual goes on. Keeping an eye on the coffers and generally overseeing the running of the business. I don't think this will be too much of a problem this year as there are several applicants versed in running a business. However, I think it would be great to get some more transparency into the state of the business side of the organisation.

2) Ensuring that the organisation strives towards its vision and carries out its mission. Looking at the mission statement of the XSF, on the face of it we seem to be living up to it pretty well, after all we do have a pretty darn good open, secure, feature-rich, decentralised infrastructure for real-time communication over the Internet.

However, you read a bit further: "The XSF’s product is protocols; the XSF’s market is developers.". So we have a great product - a mature set of protocols which have a real USP, but we really rely on our customers (the developers). And we need to make sure that their needs, both technical and business oriented, feed back into the organisation. The extensions come from the needs of developers, so making sure that it's as straightforward as possible, and that they even know that they can, contribute their extensions back to the community. The value and relevance of our product is directly linked to our customers involvement in the community.

So there is a two-fold need for developer relations - firstly to get people using the technology (over and above other competing technologies), secondly to get them engaging with the community, feeding back their lessons learnt, improvements, extensions, etc.

Quick SWOT analysis - it would be great to do a proper one of these (which should form part of the incoming board's first set of responsibilities) with involvement of the membership:

Strengths:
- We have a great, mature protocol.
- We have a friendly and open community pushing it forward.
- We have big names brands as well as SMEs using the product, and it's being used successfully in some high risk environments too.

Weaknesses:
- Our outreach programme seems to concentrate on a couple of large conferences each year. Perhaps we should be looking to put more energy into also promoting and supporting smaller meetups.

Opportunities: 
- I think there is an unprecedented opportunity, in light of recent news stories, to really push the value of a distributed, federated infrastructure. We should definitely be capitalising on this. Is there anywhere sensible we could advertise to let people see that value? (E.g. StackOverflow)
- There is an opportunity to capitalise on WebRTC, we should make sure we have a presence around that. Could we push XMPP to become the de-facto signalling protocol?

Threats:
- There are some threats around too - other federated pubsub protocols like pubsubhubbub, etc. We need to make sure it's simple for a web dev to get set up with an XMPP based solution. We have some great libraries being written now (such as socket.io, xmpp-ftw, etc) which I think are really beginning to help mitigate this, but I think there's more that could be done.

Also, following on from what Dave said, it would be great to get feedback from the members about what they expect from the board, and equally, the members should also be involved in deciding the future direction of the XSF.

One more thing - maybe we should be looking at gathering some business metrics, and establishing some KPIs so we can objectively judge how well we're doing against our mission. As a non-profit this isn't completely straightforward, but it would be great to get the ball rolling on this in the next year.

Anyway, sorry this is all a bit rambling - it's a bit of a brain dump!

Cheers,

Ash
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