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@jeffneiman, I know you’re just trying to do your job, but this is morale-killing garbage-speak for un open source project – “Leadership must approve of our process.”

@paul, this is an example of the separation of leadership from community that I’ve been repeatedly calling out as disease for an open source community. I know Jeff means no ill will, but he has inadvertently made our infra team volunteers feel like peons instead of community leaders, in large part because of the leadership culture that needs to be fixed.

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This is morale killing for ANYONE – I used to love this project once upon a time, but watching what it’s turning into…makes me sad.

How long have I been saying this? Why do you think I got so angry when you represented us without asking in the leadership calls @burke…I’d LOVE to see this problem fixed but in the meantime, @jeffneiman – spend some time reading up on FOSS culture – you’re killing the fun. This isn’t a business, this is an open source project.

We don’t have to get permission to set policies and procedures. We’re volunteers, we don’t wanna do more work than we have to. I don’t think a group of 20 people in @Leadership should be setting the operating procedures. The COMMUNITY should be doing this. I still have no clue how the heck this project is governed.

Burke, I see my mistake…

Of COURSE I meant all the members of this infrastructure Leadership, I mistakenly referred to the wrong leadership team… but that’s not all — here, embarrassingly, is my biggest mistake: I had no clue the original author of the document was @chagara. The name on the Google Doc was one I didn’t recall (John L.).

I came to you guys for your feedback and for the infrastructure leadership team’s guidance on this (not even knowing that the author of the document was leadership, or that the infrastructure leadership team had already approved this) and I’ve been entirely missing @cintiadr and @r0bby’s point…

I’m so sorry guys! HUGE misunderstanding on my part… I hope you can see I meant no ill-will, but my ignorance lead me to step on your toes unknowingly. I sincerely apologize for that and I’ll do better to

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Please see my latest reply to Burke’s comment… I had NO clue going into this that @chagara was the author… Huge foot in mouth for me, and I sincerely apologize for my ignorance and disrespect of the community leaders on the infrastructure team.

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:frowning: I’m so sorry that I didn’t realize the connection on this document. Please forgive me!

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I think @jeffneiman was simply trying to help organize things. I have no idea why he’s working on this particular thing, but I do know he’s new to the OpenMRS community, he’s trying really hard to make himself useful, and so he may dip his toes into things not knowing who controls it, where to look for guidance, etc.

If he picked the wrong thing, or phrased something in a way that didn’t make sense to you, or maybe you don’t need help on your team, but our community values any contributions from anyone that wants to jump in. Let’s use positive comments to help him figure out how to help. I don’t think that making him feel bad is very good for our community.

Secondly, I’m surprised that the infrastructure team is feeling so isolated from what is called out here as “leadership”. You are the leadership, so let’s talk about why you don’t feel that? Or why you feel that any reference to leadership doesn’t include you? What can we change about our community to ensure you feel that you are seen as the leadership?

From where I stood… the leadership team has no business even having the oversight…without understanding the procedures…you can’t make a decision whether or not it’s good or not.

Those documents exist to help us do the job. Beyond that, it’s nobody outside of the infra team’'s business how they’re written if there is consensus among the infra team. That’s where @jeffneiman overstepped. I still say he doesn’t understand how FOSS communities work.

Hmm. I’ve read this thread three times now, wanting to understand what happened.

From my vantage point, there continue to be some misunderstandings here (unless I’m not reading things correctly). @jeffneiman forgot to add a word in this sentence (I will add it in myself :slight_smile: ):

Let me speak from my perspective:

Decisions about the infrastructure, and how it works are to be made by the people who lead the infrastructure team. Period. We have great, deep respect for @r0bby, @cintiadr, @chagara, @pascal, @burke, and all of their contributions both in operations and in leadership of the infrastructure team.

If there’s any role for the “other” leadership team being referred to in matters like this, it’s simply to give input and serve as a supportive backstop. I continue to not understand why infrastructure leadership fails to see themselves as part of the “other” leadership. It’s always been my vision to see those “entities” as indistinct from each other. I can expound if it’s helpful in another thread. :slight_smile:

Let me just make a quick observation: while source code, documentation, and a community size can scale and grow over time quite rapidly, culture doesn’t necessarily always translate and grow as easily. It’s hard to be an open project, allowing everyone to come join our mission, and expect everyone to both understand FOSS ideologies and respect those “road rules” equally. Some of this is just the pain of growing.

I hope our community doesn’t accept a posture where good intentioned people like @jeffneiman get treated poorly simply because they don’t know what they don’t know. One of the things that distinguishes our project is a culture that focuses upon bringing everyone along together.

If I was in @r0bby, @cintiadr’s or in any of the other Infra Leads’ shoes, I would have likely felt as they did when I read what @jeffneiman wrote (frustrated). OTOH, I hopefully would have taken a step back, recognized that he is relatively new to the community, and not taken as much offense, simply because he’s learning in the same way other community members would learn. In this case it was a simple mistake and miscommunication.

With the exception of the question that both @janflowers and I asked about membership into @leadership, let’s move on, shall we? :slight_smile:

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Oh, totally @janflowers, I assumed that @jeffneiman was a little bit lost asking here for a review of an internal infrastructure document, and that was why I asked twice about that was the problem he was trying to solve. Clearly there was a reason, and if I could find it out, I’d be able to help more. But I was shut down, and told that it was outside the scope of the question.

I do appreciate when someone decide to help us out. There’s so much work to be done! I’m glad to say that where to store our internal processes and how-tos is not a problem anymore. I’m very happy with the results, as the others are. We’ve been documenting more and more our de-facto processes, but there’s still some work to be done. I’ve been trying to get more visibility on what infra team is doing, While there’s a few things which cannot be made world-public, I really would love to get more people involved. If you have a github account, I’d love to grant you access to the our wiki (yes, I do have reasons why it’s not in confluence! We kinda need it even if confluence is down).

Words have power, right? We are not leadership. There’s no such a thing as an ‘Infrastructure leadership’. We are, collectively, the infrastructure team. Together we write what we do, we own a couple of machines, we try to get some work done. The same way no single developer should be the owner of a Java class or module, none of us individually owns a machine or a process. We are, together, trying to reach some consensus. We have different interests and areas of expertise (while I’m professionally devops’ing for a long time, there are heaps of stuff I have no idea about).

We work as an agile team. We work more or less together to try to achieve some results - which is enabling developers. As we respect others’ work, we get work done. That’s it. No more important than a developer creating code, we are here keeping infrastructure alive! It’s an opensource community, we don’t have a boss to report to. We agree on things and we don’t see others below us on any sort of hierarchy. We are equals. I’m not here to tell @Robby or anyone what they should be doing.

Turns out that the ‘leadership’ word can also be used as a word to describe the ‘boundaries’ between a team and the rest of the organisation, upstream the hierarchy. Usually a scrum master, a spokesperson, someone to defend the team’s interests outside the team. I think leadership is a bad word to describe that, because it implies that the person has some sort of ‘power’ over the team’s internal decisions (which doesn’t make any sense, because the person is there to enable the team, not really to them what to do to or how to do stuff).

But I know @r0bby strongly believes that this is a gap we should fix in OpenMRS community: to have someone from infra team as the spokesperson in leadership calls or any other meetings and communications. My absolutely personal opinion is that I’m quite happy for @burke to do that role (as far it’s a both-way communication route). My understanding is that it’s something he’s more or less doing anyway.

We don’t see ourselves as leader of any kind, because that would imply someone else would be the follower. We are just a team, trying to get things done together.

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There’s not much more I can add – we’re more or less on the same page.

I will say a few things that always bugged me:

  • Stop running the project like a business, @jeffneiman’s use of the word “personnel” made me cringe. We’re volunteers, we’re not paid, stop treating us like employees. Stop micromanaging.
  • @jeffneiman, you should probably step back until you figure out how FOSS works – you’re going to only alienate people more. I know you mean well, but this whole episode is a textbook example of what’s wrong with OpenMRS and why people have fled.
  • The infra team documents are for us to use, nobody else needs to know or care about them. If something isn’t clear, we are always able to improve them. We don’t seek, nor do we need the approval of any other people.
  • The infrastructure team has ALWAYS operated in a manner where we did what needed to be done and made sure we kept things running, often at the expense of our sanity. I’m convinced that people like us really hate ourselves or are masochists…not sure on that one.
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Thank you so much for taking the time to write that @cintiadr. I can say that I have always been a bit confused by the acrimony around “leadership” at times, but what you wrote finally cleared some of that up for me. Maybe because what you described has always been the way I viewed leadership, so I naturally didn’t quite understand that others viewed it as a power position (as you pointed out) or a hierarchical thing. But you are absolutely correct - words do matter, and we do have to pay particular attention to words in a virtual community that uses written words as their main form of communication.

I agree whole-heartedly with your description. In an open source community, I view “leadership” as a fluid role that people step into when they want to take on particular tasks that involve decision making at an organizational level, and that people step out of when they complete that task or are no longer interested/able to work on that task. I think of all of us in the community as equals, just working on different tasks, all equally important. I think of the leadership calls as simply a place in time for anyone to come together and talk about those tasks. I’m not sure I have the impression anyone doing leadership tasks feels that they have (or wants to have) authority to “approve” things the teams are doing. I would be very surprised if that were the case.

Maybe we just need to work a bit harder at making sure that this is how leadership is utilized and understood by the community. Because I think if someone from infrastructure other than @burke wanted to come to the leadership call, they don’t need an invite, they just come and talk about the item they want to talk about. If someone wants to join in on some of the broader organizational tasks on that call, they don’t need an invite, but just to lace up their shoes and join it. I really want it to be that simple, with no barriers for people to take on those “leadership” tasks. But maybe I’m too optimistic about it?

Anyhow, thank you for sharing. As usual, your insight is really eye-opening for me. :slight_smile:

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This has really been a hard discussion and has taught me very serious lessons! Tough though it has been, i have loved the freedom of expression. The fact that people have freely spoken out their minds is very healthy for our community.

I have also loved the fact that after making a mistake, Jeff came back and apologised. That was very positive and a good sign of maturity. In our learning journey, we once in a while make mistakes and it is very important to learn from them.

Please do not get me wrong on this, but i also liked the fact that some one (Burke) from the formal leadership team, spoke out in defence of the infra team. It is very, very, and very important for these volunteers to know that some one else, feels their pain.

In summary, this is what i have learnt from all this:

  1. Always speak out your mind instead of keeping quiet when you feel hurt. When you speak, people that have hurt you learn and hence avoid doing it again.

  2. Try your best to be tender with the erring. There will always be new comers or even old timers, who once in a while make mistakes. Forgive and guide them on how best to do things.

  3. On making a mistake, be humble enough to say sorry.

  4. Words matter a lot. Be very careful with words like “review and approve”, “if accurate”, “appropriate personnel”. These words are harmless in themselves but when used in the context where the concerned people feel it is others to approve, see if accurate, and more, then this can cause problems when not worded appropriately. The word “Leadership”, if it was not accompanied with these other phrases, would not have led to problems.

I wouldn’t have learn’t all this if this thread did not happen. So even from the bad experiences, we can always get some good! :sunflower:

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thanks everyone for your posts and your responses. i was traveling last week and missed this discussion. There is a ‘leadership call’ tomorrow if people want to join ( the agenda is posted to talk). Please feel free to bring up any issues or concerns if you want to on that call.

I appreciate how Daniel gave a summary as I also learned a lot from this dialogue. The one confusing point IS probably related to standard operating procedures-- which we have been trying to propose, ask for comments, document and post in certain areas. These things are like–how to choose a site to have a meeting; how to document our operating plan; how to look at fundraising. Jeff has been working on those more administrative functions ( that i believe benefit from having a SOP so we don’t need to recreate how to do some of those) . i think that may have contributed to the confusion.

i want to echo from Daniel… try to be tender with our errings. That will help us support an open source community that is caring and compassionate

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@terry, the issue here is that as far as SOPs go – we have them on the infra team so the leadership team has little to no business even doing anything. We own those documents, as we work with them. There’s no reason for them to be public. The ones that need access, can get to them.

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Nobody is arguing against this.

Terry is saying is that she and Jeff are making an effort to catalog standard operating procedures in one place, and have people review them. You can see 3 SOPs linked in last week’s leadership call agenda.

This is a good initiative! I hope nobody objects to trying to organize and document processes in the community.

The infrastructure team manages its documentation, and keeps this on a wiki space that’s not world-readable. Nobody is saying otherwise. (Jeff just didn’t know this when he was finding and gathering documents.)

I’m not going to rehash this thread; we’ve all read quite enough about it.

I have put a disclaimer on the Outage SOP google from the first post in this thread saying it’s outdated, and pointing to the new URL (which is not publicly-accessible).

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@darius, alright – no issues then :slight_smile:

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I agree. I was trying to share that we had been working on documents for other areas at the same time.

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