Re: Out-of-area ADs [Re: IETF areas re-organisation steps]

Pete Resnick <> Sun, 28 December 2014 19:27 UTC

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Date: Sun, 28 Dec 2014 13:27:20 -0600
From: Pete Resnick <>
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Subject: Re: Out-of-area ADs [Re: IETF areas re-organisation steps]
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On 12/28/14 12:33 PM, Dave Crocker wrote:
> On 12/28/2014 8:15 AM, Pete Resnick wrote:
>> However, we have not found that ADs are so specialized that there is a
>> "correct" AD for every WG, or that the AD whose main area (or Area) of
>> expertise is always the best person to manage any particular WG. There
>> are obvious examples like APP WGs that, while really needing the
>> constituency of the APP area to come to consensus on the work, really
>> are better coordinated by a SEC AD.
> Pete,
> Without commenting on any of the surrounding decisions or on-going
> discussion, I'm curious about the above.  And my query is meant to be
> basic, not critical.
> It's been a long-standing assumption that the above view you cite is
> correct, and it certainly seems logical.
> But after now having watched some working group assignments of this
> type, I couldn't tell you what actual benefit there was.  Note, for
> example, that the coordinating area director does not make principal
> contributions to the technical work of the group.
> In fact, there have arguably been some problems, given that participants
> active in the 'coordinating' area often lack much experience with the
> nature and needs of the 'visiting' working group.

To date, we really haven't changed the AD without changing the area as 
well, and my experience is it's the *area* move that results in the 
problems rather than the coordinating AD. That is, I think you're 
exactly right that it's the *area's* lack of experience with the nature 
and needs of visiting WGs that results in the problem, but that (and 
YMMV) the AD assigned is really not what makes the difference. This also 
goes to Nico and Brian's point, with which I disagree: Areas themselves 
are *not* as flexible, and I think that's an OK thing: Areas do have 
particular ways of working on problems, and WGs do tend to have a good 
fit with those modes of working. Moving WGs from their "natural" area to 
another one does not seem to help cross-area review all that much, but 
does sometimes cause there to be a lack of the right people from the 
home area in the room. (I think having a "foreign" AD *can* help the 
cross-area problem, but that's a different discussion.)

> More generally, perhaps your comment:
>> However, we have not found that ADs are so specialized that there is a "correct" AD for every WG,
> raises the possibility that AD job descriptions ought to make explicit
> reference to cross-area skills?  This, of course, leads to the challenge
> of figuring out what that means, in pragmatic terms.

Maybe. I think individuals always come with some cross-area skills, so 
it might be reasonable to stick with the kinds of area-specific 
descriptions we give to the NomCom now and expect that there will 
naturally be enough cross-area abilities to make things work. But we do 
in fact do this sort of thing for the IAB: We tell them to "make sure 
you get someone with i18n clue" or "congestion control clue" or "DNS 
clue", and the NomCom has been known to look at the slate and make sure 
there's *someone* with that sort of clue, even if there's nobody with 
the particular expertise. I could see doing the same sort of thing for 
the IESG cross-area skills without putting too much of an additional 
burden on the NomCom.


Pete Resnick<>
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. - +1 (858)651-4478