Thoughts from the 2015 OpenMRS Camp leadership retreat

I want to start by sending sincere thanks to the 21 participants who travelled from around the world to participate in this special face-to-face leadership event. I also want to send additional thanks to the many additional people who expressed interest in participating, sent feedback to be considered for the event, or who are curious enough to better understand how our community moves forward.

If I summarized and contrasted the themes of the inaugural two events in 2014 and last week, I’d say that while 2014 was focused upon recognizing and incorporating leadership emerging all around the community into how we evolve, the 2015 event squarely focused upon how we can operationalize that interest into collective, scalable action.

In retrospect, I think there’s so much for us all to be proud of within the community. OTOH, there’s so much more that needs to be done, and we’re all feeling the pressure of responding to our moral obligation to underserved populations throughout the world.

I presented these ideas at the start of the meeting, in a slide deck called “The good, the bad, and the ugly.:smile:

After considerable introspection, we as a leadership team believe the fundamentals necessary to take OpenMRS to it’s next 10-fold growth period include:

  1. Clear consensus on our community objectives. In other words, what are the specific things we as a group make happen around our mission? What are end-users and implementers telling us is most relevant to their needs?

  2. Clearly defined 6 and 12 month goals and tasks that emanate from those objectives.

  3. Clear performance metrics, defined at the time of goal/task development, that allow the community to understand how we’re making progress towards both #1 and #2.

  4. Clearly described/written and easy to understand community decision making processes.

  5. Dedicated, committed skill-sets available to help facilitate and move these things forward. Examples of these skill-sets include project management, communications, and fundraising.

The fantastic news, is that we have hatched draft plans to help us realize all of these fundamentals. The even better news is, you have the ability to get as involved as you want in helping us realize all of this.

Others are going to descend upon the list here shortly with more specifics, but let me point you to where work is currently happening:

  1. Draft OpenMRS Community Governance Document: This document is designed to make clear what we’re doing as OpenMRS, and how that relates to how decisions get made, and work gets done within the community. My intention is to more formally “release” a first working version of this long overdue document by the OpenMRS World Summit in December (more info at: We as a leadership group have spent a lot of time trying to decide how to communicate things in the most effective way. This document will undergo considerable revision, and hopefully simplification in the next 6-8 weeks.

  2. Draft OpenMRS 2016 Community Plan: This document (ultimately) will be a form of our community roadmap. It will lay out in some specific detail, the goals, tasks, and metrics needed to move forward our OpenMRS community objectives. The link to this working document is located at: Specific leaders have committed to oversee a particular community objective. You will be hearing them convene activity here shortly.

  3. 2016 OpenMRS Resource-Wrangling Strategy: While this has yet to precipitate a written artifact, we spent significant time discussing the nature of how we wrangle direct and in-kind resources to perform more effectively. Some of this is as simple as determining the different types of fundraising we collectively can work towards, and some of it is better leveraging the groups and partnerships that are interested in deeper investments today. Additionally, how can we work with the newly formed OpenMRS not-for-profit organization to help? More to come on this soon, which will mostly emerge as a result of what we come up with in #2 above.

Additionally, thanks mostly to work by @terry (Terry Cullen), we also have notes for those who want to review the specific conversation arc that occurred during the camp. I’d like to also call out Terry specifically, and how excited I am to welcome her and work alongside her closely in her emerging operational oversight role within the OpenMRS community given her vast experiences working with underserved populations at scale in both the US Indian Health Service and the US Veterans Administration. The notes from the Camp will be available here shortly.