Re: [Wikimedia-l] Qualities for the next long-term WMF executive director

2016-03-07 Thread Pine W
Related to this thread:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html

In particular: "Psychological safety is ‘‘a sense of confidence that the
team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up,’’
Edmondson wrote in a study published in 1999. ‘‘It describes a team climate
characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are
comfortable being themselves.’’

and

"But Google’s data indicated that psychological safety, more than anything
else, was critical to making a team work."

Pine
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Qualities for the next long-term WMF executive director

2016-03-07 Thread Oliver Keyes
On Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 9:52 PM, Pine W  wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 4:05 PM, Oliver Keyes  wrote:
>
>> On Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 1:57 PM, Pine W  wrote:
>> > Employees have some rights too, including the right to organize and the
>> > right to quit. Good employees quitting may be a sign of problems with
>> > management.
>> >
>> > In WMF's case, many of the staff have plenty of employment options
>> outside
>> > of WMF, which is all the more reason to select a WMF ED who has good
>> people
>> > management skills in addition to a wide array of other skills.
>> >
>>
>> I'm sorry, but that's simply not true. I'm highlighting this not to be
>> harsh but to correct a pretty serious misunderstanding with the nature
>> of the WMF's employee base, one which I think is partially responsible
>> for a lack of proper understanding of precisely how scary, stressful
>> and frankly amazing the dissent over the last 12 months has been.
>>
>> Take the number of WMF employees. Pretty much all of them are good,
>> smart, qualified people for the work they do, so clearly they could
>> get awesome jobs elsewhere, right?
>>
>> Now, split out all the non-engineers. Our programme and education and
>> grants teams are fantastic; so are our administrative teams. But their
>> prospects aren't as great as those for engineers simply for the reason
>> that there is literally an entire industry, one of the few ones with
>> continuous growth, built on the existence and recruitment of
>> engineers. It's a lot harder to get a new job if you're outside that
>> group.
>>
>
> Perhaps I'm more of an optimist when it comes to job prospects for
> non-engineers because I happen to live a short distance from
> the Gates Foundation and a few months ago I looked over their job
> postings. It seemed to me that quite a few people in WMF's Community
> department would be good fit at Gates. I also believe that the
> US Government, school districts, and UN agencies would be interested
> in some of the people who work in the WMF Community Department.
> I'm not saying that I *want* WMFers to leave, just saying that I'm
> more of an optimist that people from the Community team could
> indeed find jobs elsewhere that are aligned with their skill sets.
>

The US Government only employs citizens in civil service rules; a
great executive order that one was. And, yes, I suspect the proximity
of a single non-profit may be a bias.

>
>
>>
>> So now we've got engineers. Still a pretty big chunk of the
>> organisation. Cool! Now remove anyone on a H1B visa. See, if you're on
>> a H1B and you quit, you're instantaneously no longer in the country
>> legally. Ditto if you're fired. The only way around it is to convince
>> a second employer to hire you, and file to transfer the petition over,
>> while still _at_ the first employer. Otherwise, bzzt. You quit, you
>> were fired, either way, get out of our country please.
>>
>
> That is indeed a problem. While I suppose that my statement remains
> correct that H1B engineers can get jobs elsewhere, it's certainly
> a big downside if they're effectively deported before that happens
> when they'd rather stay in the US.

I'm glad we're in agreement that being deported from the United States
and potentially banned from returning depending on how it happens is
"a big downside".

>
>
>>
>> So that's US-citizen or resident engineers left. Let's scrap from that
>> people outside the default stereotype of engineers as 20-something
>> people without dependants. If you're someone who does have dependants
>> or responsibilities - children, a partner not working, elderly
>> relatives - well that makes finding a new job a lot harder. Not only
>> do you have less energy and time in which to do it, because you're
>> looking after these people, you have to find a job that's as flexible
>> on when you work your 40 hours as the WMF is, otherwise you risk
>> running into some serious collisions with your out-of-work duties. And
>> heaven forfend if you're *having* a kid or have serious medical
>> conditions because not only do you have to deal with that, any gap in
>> employment is potentially financially crippling since you're now
>> without medical insurance.
>>
>
> My understanding is that outside of the 24/7 work environment at
> startups, particularly in large and now-old tech companies like
> Microsoft and Google, work-life balance is an aspect that those
> companies try to support and to a degree they use it as a
> recruiting incentive.

You'd be shocked, actually. Google, for example, used to do a pretty
good job around childcare - then they decided it was too expensive and
so why bother?

Google and Microsoft are both sort of ground zero for the "keep em
penned" kind of benefits: a system where any service that can be
provided on-site, is, because that way you never have to leave. This
is very distinct from what I'm talking about, which is flexible time
up and including 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Qualities for the next long-term WMF executive director

2016-03-07 Thread Pine W
On Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 4:05 PM, Oliver Keyes  wrote:

> On Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 1:57 PM, Pine W  wrote:
> > Employees have some rights too, including the right to organize and the
> > right to quit. Good employees quitting may be a sign of problems with
> > management.
> >
> > In WMF's case, many of the staff have plenty of employment options
> outside
> > of WMF, which is all the more reason to select a WMF ED who has good
> people
> > management skills in addition to a wide array of other skills.
> >
>
> I'm sorry, but that's simply not true. I'm highlighting this not to be
> harsh but to correct a pretty serious misunderstanding with the nature
> of the WMF's employee base, one which I think is partially responsible
> for a lack of proper understanding of precisely how scary, stressful
> and frankly amazing the dissent over the last 12 months has been.
>
> Take the number of WMF employees. Pretty much all of them are good,
> smart, qualified people for the work they do, so clearly they could
> get awesome jobs elsewhere, right?
>
> Now, split out all the non-engineers. Our programme and education and
> grants teams are fantastic; so are our administrative teams. But their
> prospects aren't as great as those for engineers simply for the reason
> that there is literally an entire industry, one of the few ones with
> continuous growth, built on the existence and recruitment of
> engineers. It's a lot harder to get a new job if you're outside that
> group.
>

Perhaps I'm more of an optimist when it comes to job prospects for
non-engineers because I happen to live a short distance from
the Gates Foundation and a few months ago I looked over their job
postings. It seemed to me that quite a few people in WMF's Community
department would be good fit at Gates. I also believe that the
US Government, school districts, and UN agencies would be interested
in some of the people who work in the WMF Community Department.
I'm not saying that I *want* WMFers to leave, just saying that I'm
more of an optimist that people from the Community team could
indeed find jobs elsewhere that are aligned with their skill sets.



>
> So now we've got engineers. Still a pretty big chunk of the
> organisation. Cool! Now remove anyone on a H1B visa. See, if you're on
> a H1B and you quit, you're instantaneously no longer in the country
> legally. Ditto if you're fired. The only way around it is to convince
> a second employer to hire you, and file to transfer the petition over,
> while still _at_ the first employer. Otherwise, bzzt. You quit, you
> were fired, either way, get out of our country please.
>

That is indeed a problem. While I suppose that my statement remains
correct that H1B engineers can get jobs elsewhere, it's certainly
a big downside if they're effectively deported before that happens
when they'd rather stay in the US.


>
> So that's US-citizen or resident engineers left. Let's scrap from that
> people outside the default stereotype of engineers as 20-something
> people without dependants. If you're someone who does have dependants
> or responsibilities - children, a partner not working, elderly
> relatives - well that makes finding a new job a lot harder. Not only
> do you have less energy and time in which to do it, because you're
> looking after these people, you have to find a job that's as flexible
> on when you work your 40 hours as the WMF is, otherwise you risk
> running into some serious collisions with your out-of-work duties. And
> heaven forfend if you're *having* a kid or have serious medical
> conditions because not only do you have to deal with that, any gap in
> employment is potentially financially crippling since you're now
> without medical insurance.
>

My understanding is that outside of the 24/7 work environment at
startups, particularly in large and now-old tech companies like
Microsoft and Google, work-life balance is an aspect that those
companies try to support and to a degree they use it as a
recruiting incentive.


>
> Okay! So: "many of the staff have plenty of employment options outside
> of WMF". And by that we mean: employees who are US citizens or
> residents, have no dependants or serious medical issues, and work in
> an engineering-centric role, have plenty of employment options outside
> of WMF. Which is, in practice, like: Mikhail. Mikhail has plenty of
> employment opportunities. Congrats to Mikhail.
>
> The rest of us? Various amounts of "seriously boned". I know staff who
> did not speak up because they were scared of losing medical coverage
> or, worse, being forced out of the country, if dissent was reacted to
> with firings. I know people who did speak up *despite* being subject
> to these risks. This perception that many staff have many viable and
> good options they can just jump to if stuff gets bad glosses over the
> fact that, actually, the vast majority don't. The fact they chose to
> do something even in those conditions is 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Qualities for the next long-term WMF executive director

2016-03-07 Thread Guillaume Paumier
Hi,

Le lundi 7 mars 2016, 13:40:20 Brion Vibber a écrit :
> 
> Third, what happens when the "unicorn" retires and we transition again?
> 
> I think we're going to need to think harder about structural remedies:
> communications channels, reporting infrastructures, "escape valves" for
> miscommunications or squashed communications in the reporting chain, etc.

I agree. I think it's going to be critical for us to rebuild the organization 
in a way that is more resilient to the shortcomings of any single individual.

This reminds me of this quote: "As a leader, your goal should always be to 
build structures and processes that don't depend on you and ideally don't need 
you."

It's from an article I shared with Lila and Boryana in December due to the 
context then:

http://firstround.com/review/the-keys-to-scaling-yourself-as-a-technology-leader/

These were my thoughts on the topic back then:



I think a key point here is that the key to an efficient and resilient
organization is distributed processes and documentation. The article notably
mentions Conway's Law, whose application is unusual in the context of the WMF.

The law states that organizations model their products after their own 
structures and processes. Because the WMF was created /after/ its products, the 
opposite happened: the WMF modeled itself after the open, collaborative wiki 
model, and stayed that way for a while. During that initial period, there was 
little conflict between the WMF and our communities.

As the WMF grew and professionalized, we started drifting from that model. The
risk of alienating our values and identity (and as a consequence our
communities) was identified early on.

At Sue Gardner's request, the theme of the 2010 all-staff meeting was "How do
we grow our organization but stay who we are" (paraphrased). One of the all-
staff exercises was to "list the things we cherish"; One prominent item on this
list was "The Casey Browns of this world" (
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WMF_All-staff_meeting_2010_-_Things_we_cherish.jpg
 ), after the name of one of our most engaged volunteers
involved in many support functions for the WMF. I found this so insightful
that I took that picture :)

Despite that early caution, we /have/ more or less abandoned the wiki model
gradually (due to many different factors), and I see this reflected in the
results of the Engagement survey.

I feel that many of the issues the organization is facing right now (both
internally, and externally with our communities) are related to this conflict
between our original model and the one we've drifted towards.

My impression, based on my personal experience and 6 years of being at the
WMF, is that the most successful WMF initiatives have been those led by people
who followed the wiki model as closely as possible (regardless of whether they
were originally hired from the communities). I'm happy to discuss this further
and share my experience in this area, if you're interested.



-- 
Guillaume Paumier
Wikimedia Foundation

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Qualities for the next long-term WMF executive director

2016-03-07 Thread Brion Vibber
I do feel the need to warn against making a checklist of good qualities for
potential candidates...

First, a lot of these things are hard to interview for. If you ask someone
if they support their employees and give them clear goals, they're probably
going to say "yes". To find out if they consistently can/do in your sort of
work environment, you'd rather need to interview the people they've been
supporting & managing for a while and ask them how *they* feel.

Second, we're never going to find a "unicorn" who is all things to all
people. Real people are imperfect, and real situations are complex.

Third, what happens when the "unicorn" retires and we transition again?


I think we're going to need to think harder about structural remedies:
communications channels, reporting infrastructures, "escape valves" for
miscommunications or squashed communications in the reporting chain, etc.

In government we call these sorts of things "checks and balances", and we
want them in place both when we like the people being elected into office
and when we are deeply distrustful of them.


I don't advocate huge changes done quickly, but I strongly advocate making
some small steps in the short term; at a minimum, quickly establishing the
promised ombudsperson role to provide an alternate channel for reporting
problems in the regular reporting chain would go a long way to restoring
trust lost in November-February.

-- brion



On Sun, Mar 6, 2016 at 7:19 PM, Pine W  wrote:

> Food for thought:
>
>
> http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-best-managers-exhibit-these-7-behaviors-2016-1
>
> Looking forward to further discussions in the weeks and months ahead,
>
> Pine
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Qualities for the next long-term WMF executive director

2016-03-07 Thread Pine W
Employees have some rights too, including the right to organize and the
right to quit. Good employees quitting may be a sign of problems with
management.

In WMF's case, many of the staff have plenty of employment options outside
of WMF, which is all the more reason to select a WMF ED who has good people
management skills in addition to a wide array of other skills.

Pine
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Qualities for the next long-term WMF executive director

2016-03-07 Thread Oliver Keyes
On Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 2:42 AM, Keegan Peterzell  wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 1:21 AM, Pine W  wrote:
>
>> If the research results about qualities of effective managers have been
>> generally consistent for 30 years, then I wonder why so many managers in so
>> many organizations today have mediocre skills in those areas.
>>
>
> I'd hazard a guess that it's because there are more management positions -
> many, many more - out there in the world then there are stellar managers.

Agreed. I also suspect it's a question of power dynamics; namely, a
senior manager is much more able to be bad at their job than an
employee first because there are so few good managers that poor
quality is the norm, but second because if you have a manager who is
terrible, particularly in a non-profit environment, the impact tends
to be felt by their employees - i.e. the people with the least power
in the situation to do anything about the problem. An incompetent
employee, on the other hand, hurts their managers, who do have that
power.

>
>
>
>> I also wonder, in WMF's case, what can be done to ensure that the next ED
>> is robustly skilled in those areas.
>>
>
> This is a good question, hopefully this will be documented during the
> search.
>
> --
> ~Keegan
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Keegan
>
> This is my personal email address. Everything sent from this email address
> is in a personal capacity.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Qualities for the next long-term WMF executive director

2016-03-06 Thread Keegan Peterzell
On Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 1:21 AM, Pine W  wrote:

> If the research results about qualities of effective managers have been
> generally consistent for 30 years, then I wonder why so many managers in so
> many organizations today have mediocre skills in those areas.
>

​I'd hazard a guess that it's because there are more management positions -
many, many more - out there in the world then there are stellar managers.



> I also wonder, in WMF's case, what can be done to ensure that the next ED
> is robustly skilled in those areas.
>

​This is a good question, hopefully this will be documented during the
search.

-- 
~Keegan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Keegan

This is my personal email address. Everything sent from this email address
is in a personal capacity.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Qualities for the next long-term WMF executive director

2016-03-06 Thread Pine W
If the research results about qualities of effective managers have been
generally consistent for 30 years, then I wonder why so many managers in so
many organizations today have mediocre skills in those areas.

I also wonder, in WMF's case, what can be done to ensure that the next ED
is robustly skilled in those areas.

Pine
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Qualities for the next long-term WMF executive director

2016-03-06 Thread Risker
Well, the traits mentioned in the BI article are so commonplace in
management literature (I can remember studying basically that same list
almost 30 years ago) that they're kind of like mom and apple pie.  There's
a bit less emphasis on command and control, and a bit more human interest
emphasis, but these supposedly effective traits have been set down on paper
for over a generation now.  There's nothing new in what Facebook finds
makes an effective manager. And more particularly, what's talked about in
that article is so generic it could apply equally to a factory, a
commercial enterprise, or a non-profit.

It strikes me that the key question the Board needs to think about is
whether they want a manager, a leader or a visionary.

Risker/Anne

On 7 March 2016 at 01:48, Pine W  wrote:

> On the topic of researching what makes someone a successful CEO (as opposed
> to a manager who may or may not be a CEO), it's interesting that the
> resources that I've found on the Internet tend to describe current trends
> in management fads (which aren't particularly helpful in our situation,
> IMO) and/or traits of people who have been promoted to CEO (which are not
> necessarily synonymous with traits that make someone *successful *as a
> CEO).
>
> My hunch is that traits of successful CEOs may vary a bit depending on the
> nature of the organization. Some skills are likely to be similar (such as
> communication, accounting, business law, and market research) while others
> may be quite different (for example, the CEO of General Motors probably
> needs to have a different reservoir of industry-specific knowledge than the
> CEO of the Humane Society.) Also, the mentalities of organizations can be
> quite different, for example the CEO of Microsoft is probably very
> interested in growing market share for a wide array of existing product
> lines, while the chief executive of a specialty pharmaceutical research
> company may be far more focused on R for a small batch of high-risk,
> high-potential products that have yet to come to market.
>
> Narrowing the focus to the more specific case of the WMF CEO, it seems to
> me that the skills listed in the BI article are a good place to start. We
> might also be interested in mission alignment, cultural fit, knowledge of
> the legal and fundraising landscapes, and familiarity with open source
> technologies that WMF uses. As others have mentioned, the CEO and the CTO
> are distinct roles; it seems to me that if we get a solid CTO then we can
> de-emphasize the the technical skills in the CEO search and focus on the
> wide array of other skills that would be valuable for the CEO.
>
> Pine
>
>
>
>
>
> mama
>
> On Sun, Mar 6, 2016 at 7:49 PM, Greg Grossmeier 
> wrote:
>
> > 
> > > Food for thought:
> > >
> > >
> >
> http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-best-managers-exhibit-these-7-behaviors-2016-1
> >
> > I think that is great food for thought for managers of teams,
> > definitely.
> >
> > I'm not sure it applies to managers of managers or executives; only
> > because those positions weren't a part of this investigation.
> >
> > Greg
> >
> > --
> > | Greg GrossmeierGPG: B2FA 27B1 F7EB D327 6B8E |
> > | identi.ca: @gregA18D 1138 8E47 FAC8 1C7D |
> >
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Qualities for the next long-term WMF executive director

2016-03-06 Thread Pine W
On the topic of researching what makes someone a successful CEO (as opposed
to a manager who may or may not be a CEO), it's interesting that the
resources that I've found on the Internet tend to describe current trends
in management fads (which aren't particularly helpful in our situation,
IMO) and/or traits of people who have been promoted to CEO (which are not
necessarily synonymous with traits that make someone *successful *as a CEO).

My hunch is that traits of successful CEOs may vary a bit depending on the
nature of the organization. Some skills are likely to be similar (such as
communication, accounting, business law, and market research) while others
may be quite different (for example, the CEO of General Motors probably
needs to have a different reservoir of industry-specific knowledge than the
CEO of the Humane Society.) Also, the mentalities of organizations can be
quite different, for example the CEO of Microsoft is probably very
interested in growing market share for a wide array of existing product
lines, while the chief executive of a specialty pharmaceutical research
company may be far more focused on R for a small batch of high-risk,
high-potential products that have yet to come to market.

Narrowing the focus to the more specific case of the WMF CEO, it seems to
me that the skills listed in the BI article are a good place to start. We
might also be interested in mission alignment, cultural fit, knowledge of
the legal and fundraising landscapes, and familiarity with open source
technologies that WMF uses. As others have mentioned, the CEO and the CTO
are distinct roles; it seems to me that if we get a solid CTO then we can
de-emphasize the the technical skills in the CEO search and focus on the
wide array of other skills that would be valuable for the CEO.

Pine





mama

On Sun, Mar 6, 2016 at 7:49 PM, Greg Grossmeier  wrote:

> 
> > Food for thought:
> >
> >
> http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-best-managers-exhibit-these-7-behaviors-2016-1
>
> I think that is great food for thought for managers of teams,
> definitely.
>
> I'm not sure it applies to managers of managers or executives; only
> because those positions weren't a part of this investigation.
>
> Greg
>
> --
> | Greg GrossmeierGPG: B2FA 27B1 F7EB D327 6B8E |
> | identi.ca: @gregA18D 1138 8E47 FAC8 1C7D |
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Qualities for the next long-term WMF executive director

2016-03-06 Thread Greg Grossmeier

> Food for thought:
> 
> http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-best-managers-exhibit-these-7-behaviors-2016-1

I think that is great food for thought for managers of teams,
definitely.

I'm not sure it applies to managers of managers or executives; only
because those positions weren't a part of this investigation.

Greg

-- 
| Greg GrossmeierGPG: B2FA 27B1 F7EB D327 6B8E |
| identi.ca: @gregA18D 1138 8E47 FAC8 1C7D |

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