Re: [108attendees] Successful IETF 108

Carsten Bormann <> Tue, 04 August 2020 10:05 UTC

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From: Carsten Bormann <>
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Date: Tue, 4 Aug 2020 12:05:38 +0200
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Subject: Re: [108attendees] Successful IETF 108
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> Granted. Time is always precious but not so precious as during a physical meeting week.

Right.  I think the digital form of this we found for IETF108 is about right: 5x5x8 (5 days of 5 hours, with 8 slots in parallel) or slightly less than 200 hours of meeting time (8 not always achievable, e.g. during plenary).
The 5 hour format of the day allows to get some work done outside the meetings (e.g., side meetings, preparing and digesting drafts and slides, processing e-mail).  Going higher than 5 wouldn’t work as well, as people would again need to process their email and prepare/digest materials during the meetings.

> Most of the time, the speed of an organization depends on the number of meetings per year. With 4 meetings/year instead of 3, we know that IETF would move faster. 

IETF moved from a 4/yr to a 3/yr format before I got involved.  It would be interesting to hear why.  Currently, 2 of the three meetings are followed by a regional slowdown (summer ➔ vacation time in Europe, winter ➔ Thanksgiving and winter slowdown in the US).  Going back to 4/yr might change the dynamics in other ways than just meeting more often.

> To (try to) be on par with opensource projects speed, we have to adopt monthly or bi-weekly virtual calls. Whether you call that design team (with only active participants) or working group meeting (with everybody), it's a detail. 

I’m not sure it is.  We have used periods of bi-weekly web meetings in some WGs and I can say these were useful.  Turnout is smaller than at the 3/yr meetings (which I will call “summits” for the rest of this message as “face-to-face” no longer is true).

I think the summit + interims format has worked much better than I would have thought.  Summit = intense focusing all-week on IETF, interaction between WGs, new work (BOFs), some celebration of achievements, etc.  Interim (duh, we need to change this term, too) = focus on a single WG and their products, time to prepare/digest just that, getting all the small decisions that enable further process (which is why it needs to be a WG meeting and not a design team meeting).

Of course, WGs differ, so some won’t get much out of these web meetings, some will work best with infrequent interims, and some will want to use focused, one-theme-per-meeting, but regularly timed monthly or bi-weekly web meetings.

> Those recurring virtual calls is also what we have in most companies in our industry. With 2 possible outcomes. Either the project takes off rapidly, or there is a lack of interest/energy/time and the project dies. Both are valid outcomes for IETF drafts and WGs.

For many WGs, that is a good analogue.  Make sure the meetings are not so frequent that people think they can do the work in the meeting, though (*); these should be prepared and post-processed events.

Grüße, Carsten

(*) The old adage of the IQ of a group being the average IQ of the participants divided by the number of the participants comes to mind.  People need time to think, digest, prepare between the meetings.