Re: Updating BCP 10 -- NomCom

Allison Mankin <> Wed, 18 February 2015 19:07 UTC

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Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:07:51 -0500
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Subject: Re: Updating BCP 10 -- NomCom
From: Allison Mankin <>
To: "Murray S. Kucherawy" <>
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Working back through the mail threads on this, I realize that I didn't see
this when it first came out.​  My comments are inline.

On Feb 11, 2015, at 19:46, "Murray S. Kucherawy" <>

On Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 12:45 PM, Michael StJohns <>

>  A couple of things.
> The nomcom is not either individually nor collectively the "hiring
> manager" for the IETF.  It neither makes the final decision (that's the
> CB's call), nor does it direct the work of the "hired" entity.
> ​

> The Nomcom is and always has been a "search committee" and as such it
> gathers and winnows candidates before proposing them for confirmation.
> Indeed, there is no bar to the Nomcom proposing multiple candidates for a
> position and allowing the CB to choose its preference - that hasn't
> actually been done, but its not barred.
​AJM:  Mike, I have always wanted the Nomcom to be like a search committee,
but on the other hand, search committees do produce short lists as you say,
and every time I've suggested this as a way to offset some of the problems
with the unevenness of the Nomcom participants' skills, in every hallway
chat I've ever had, I've received massive pushback.  So while the
confirming bodies approve the selection, the selection is made by the
Nomcom.  When confirming bodies request an alternative selection, this is
not something that can be seen by us outside the process, but the hallways
tell me also that Nomcoms who have experienced this are frustrated and
angry.  Therefore, we should perhaps add something to clarify that the
selection/the hire as it were, is really made by the confirming body, and
see how that fares in discussion.

AJM:  Also, hiring manager in my part of the world does not imply that the
person becomes a supervisor of the selectee - the term is used for the
person who makes the hire happen.

I think that's a fair point.  I've adjusted her suggested text accordingly.
​AJM: What do you think about explaining what a search committee is, in
that case, and noting the option to send short lists rather than single
selections.  ​

> The interview should be used to fill in details not clear from the
> questionnaire, so matters of fairness should be addressed when crafting the
> questions, not later when you get around to talking with the candidate.
> Generally, the interview should be used to evaluate the BS factor of the
> answers from the questionnaire and not delve into new fields or hobby
> horses of the interviewers.

The questionnaire is actually not codified in BCP 10 anywhere.  Does anyone
think it needs to be?

​AJM: I think it needs not to be.  But principles for fairness of
conducting the interview are reasonable to have as Best Practice (as per my
suggested text), IMO, because as I'll elaborate below: we shouldn't take
for granted that each collection of 10 voting members and 5 non-voting
members will have even such simple principles clearly in mind.

> The digression to "thinking slow" is interesting, but somewhat trendy.
> Next year there will be another interview and decision method that will be
> trendy and its unclear why this "thinking slow" would be a better choice
> than next year's flavor and why it should be immortalized in the next
> version of 3777.  I would instead focus on the virtues of clarity,
> completeness and fairness and leave the rest of it to the best abilities of
> the chosen Nomcom.  In any event, attempting to "program" the Nomcom
> members to a specific behavior pattern will be unsuccessful.

I tend to agree with this, though since we do have an appendix that talks
about "oral tradition", there's probably little harm in including this
stuff in a similar appendix.  We could even label it clearly as something
that worked well for NomCom 2013.

​AJM:   I disagree with the idea that advising people to be deliberative in
their review of candidates is trendy and could easily be superseded by a
next trend.  I don't care if the text needs to not reference a social
science expert on this, which I did in part because IETFers are rather
contrarian, and can be hard to make a plain and simple human resources
point.   I also think that the previous nomcom, where I was Past Chair,
practiced slow thinking and/or deliberative, thorough review, though
sometimes I found I had to help out.  My observation: the candidates who
are not famous enough to be recognized by most of the voting members what
their varied usually were summarized incompletely in the initial review
discussions - relevant accomplishments were omitted from discussion until
the thorough process (and some reminders) got those back onto the table.
Maybe text that says this more directly rather than by means of a social
science reference could be included.  I feel strongly that it is not a
given that Nomcoms will take their time and give enough diligence, given
the other pressures on them, especially time pressures.

> Allison - your desire to have 3+ interviewers per interviewee is going to
> contribute to slowing down the process even more.  At this point I see us
> starting to try and begin the process a full two years before confirmation.
> (Yup - hyperbole, but seriously, we're spending WAY too much calendar time
> from first indication of candidacy to selection).

I also disagree with this.  I served on NomComs 2013 and 2014, we did it
this way, and it worked rather well.

​AJM: Thanks, Murray.

AJM: Final note: there's a truism that you need the great "staff" to do
great work.  A lot of people already are willing to devote many cycles to
our Nomcom process and this is worthy and necessary for the IETF.  ​