Re: Interim meetings - changing the way we work

Mary Barnes <> Thu, 26 February 2015 16:13 UTC

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Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 10:13:18 -0600
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Subject: Re: Interim meetings - changing the way we work
From: Mary Barnes <>
To: Joel Halpern Direct <>
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On Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 9:57 AM, Joel Halpern Direct <> wrote:

> One of the working groups where I have observed this is one where I am a
> document author and was an active contributor.  I am still trying to
> contribute.  Minutes don't cut it.  (I looked at the minutes from the one
> session I participated in.  While they were formally correct, I doubt that
> they would have helped anyone not on the call actually engage in the
> discussion.  As evidence I point out that the discussions do not get
> followed up on the list.
[MB] Aren't these all management issues?  I would think the WG chairs would
ensure that all the key contributors are available. And, of course, there
should be adequate minutes produced along with action items identified and
I would assume those are taken to the mailing list and/or added to an issue
tracker.  As others have noted email is not the best way to resolve some of
the more complex problems introduced in our technical work.  I totally
agree about the timezone issue.  For CLUE WG, folks were flexible about
shifting our meetings to ensure an attendee in Australia could attend when
we were discussing issues to which he had input.  Note, that we identified
ahead of time on our WG wiki what the topic for that meeting was.  We were
flexible about re-arranging those for the key contributors.  [/MB]

> One of the other groups I follow, and no I don't expect the work to be
> optimized for a follower.  But judging from what I see, even an active
> participant and author would have trouble if they could not make the phone
> calls.
> We claim that we do our work on the email list.  I do understand that
> phone calls and face to face meetings are useful for resolving hard
> issues.  I am not saying "don't have interims".  But if one is having a
> phone call every two to three weeks, then the working group is NOT
> conducting its work on the mailing list.  If we want to throw in the towel
> and say that you need a higher engagement level to participate, then we
> should own up to that.  It will severely harm cross-fertilization and
> participation in multiple working groups.  But maybe that is what we need
> to give up.
[MB] In CLUE WG, we had weekly calls (if we had a topic identified that we
felt benefitted from a verbal discussion.  Again, I think it's a management
issue if things are not documented and what is deemed to be consensus is
not taken to the WG mailing list for confirmation and any additional
discussion as necessary.  I still consider the work having been conducted
on the mailing list in that we posted links (or directly the minutes) to
the WG mailing list and when we added issues to the tracker, the WG gets
notified. [/MB]

> But pretending that frequent working group (not design team, working
> group) conference calls are a good way to work and consistent with our
> ethos does not match what I have seen.
[MB] I, of course, totally disagree. We should use all the communication
tools available to progress our work.  I totally agree of the importance of
traceability in the email archives, which is why links to minutes, issues
in the tracker, etc. ought all be posted to the WG mailing list.  IMHO, we
would actually benefit from WGs actually using the wikis to more carefully
document decisions - it's a heck of lot easier in some cases than trying to
dig through WG or personal email archives.  [/MB]

> Yours,
> Joel
> On 2/26/15 10:15 AM, Ted Lemon wrote:
>> On Feb 26, 2015, at 10:05 AM, Joel M. Halpern <>
>> wrote:
>>> I need to agree with John here.  There are several WGs I try to
>>> monitor that started having frequent interim conference calls.
>>> There is no way I can reliably make time for that.  The advantage
>>> of email is that I can fit it in around the work I need to do
>>> (including reading it during corporate conference calls.)  In one
>>> case I have had to dramatically reduce my effective participation
>>> in the WG because most of the work moved to the conference calls.
>> If you "try to monitor" these working groups, it sounds like you
>> aren't an active participant.   The meetings are supposed to be
>> minuted, so you ought to be able to monitor them by reading the
>> minutes.
>> Do you think we should optimize working groups for getting work done,
>> or for being monitored?   Or have I misunderstood what you mean when
>> you say "try to monitor"?