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Brainstorming: Ideas for improving Board communication

Post mortem analysis of rough spots implementing the SOPA/PIPA banner. These are ideas for improving the communication between the Board and the people implementing their decisions. In some cases the proposed solutions would be sufficient in and of themselves, in other cases they would be enhanced in combination with other solutions. Not all solutions listed are possible or have buyin from any generic party -- different cases may require a different subset of solutions.

  • The announcement of the decision only went to advisory-board.
    • Solution -- when we need a team to act on what we decide we need to send it to the lists and people who will be implementing it. In this case that would have been, and/or ianweller, nb, and mizmo personally.
    • Solution -- Use the ticketing system of the relevant teams to notify them of needed changes. Don't just use the Board ticketing system as it defaults to private.
  • The Board decision was obscure -- subject line of "Board Meeting Minutes" doesn't inspire people to look.
    • Solution -- when announcing a decision that needs action in order to complete, be sure to send a separate message with the decision and needed action
    • Solution -- Use better subject lines on these mails like: "Subject: [Urgent] SOPA blackout changes needed by 18 Jan"
    • Solution -- Perhaps an external secretary to keep track of these things and make sure everything is made transparent and accessible
  • It was hard to know who to get to approve changes and generate needed text
    • Solution -- if a specific Board member takes ownership we know who to contact.
    • Solution -- have some policy/procedure for who to contact if the primary contact is unavailable
      • That person could be jsmith but only if he's not the primary contact
    • Solution -- have a policy/procedure for what decisions the implementors can make if they are stuck and the primary contact is gone.
    • Solution -- find a specific volunteer in the implementing team and give them ownership along with sufficient information and authority to implement the change and make necessary decisions along the way.
  • Board members objected to the specific wording in the banners when there was only 6 hours left until it went live but did not help out with a solution.
    • Solution -- empower the Board members to make decisions extending the original decision if the primary owner is unavailable (assuming here that Peter felt that JSmith needed to make the decision)
    • Solution -- stress that when Board members make objections, they need to also be a part of coming up with the solutions.
  • More information was needed in the first place in order to implement the changes
    • Solution -- More detailed Board Meeting Minutes. In particular, if we had described that the majority of the Board was against this being about PIPA and SOPA the implementors would have been in a better position to make language that the Board agreed with in the first draft.
      • Also, if we had mentioned which minority of the Board disagreed with that decision, we would have been in a better position to understand which people should be answering because they were wholeheartedly for the more generic implementation and which people might either not feel they could give an answer because they didn't agree with the strategy or their answer could be evaluated for bias.
  • The implementation of the decision had a single point of failure with the person writing the text.
    • Solution -- Have multiple board members who can perform a task
    • Solution -- Give deadlines about when a board member will have completed an action item so that people can recover if that person drops the ball
    • Solution -- Have a standing policy for other board members to feel empowered to take over a blocking task if the task is not being performed.
    • Solution -- Describe what the outcome of a task should consist of in enough detail that it can be passed to people doing the actual implementation to perform

Proposal for change

Toshio will be busy for three weeks (Until March 15th) Anyone is welcome to put together a strawman for discussion or he'll get back to it then.