Re: Interim meetings - changing the way we work

"Joel M. Halpern" <> Thu, 26 February 2015 16:27 UTC

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Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:27:36 -0500
From: "Joel M. Halpern" <>
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To: Mary Barnes <>
Subject: Re: Interim meetings - changing the way we work
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If the calls are produce action items and proposed resolutions that are 
taken to the working group email list in a clear fashion, then it is 
probably working well enough.

I am not seeing that from most of these groups.

If there are a lot of open issues (which would seem to go with having 
value in multiple calls) then a wiki or other easily used tracker to 
keep current information accessible is understandable.  I personally 
find that using those trackers as a place to have the conversations,as 
some WG chairs want to do, is very difficult.  But I can't say it is 
against the rules.

If there is going to be noticable time lag between issues being raised 
and their being addressed in the document, using the document tracker to 
record all the issues and their resolutions is also very helpful.

And I expect that design teams have more frequent calls than working 
groups.  That is why you have a design team.

So I am not saying we should never use conference calls.  And I am not 
saying we should not use good tooling.
But I am seeing more and more working groups having biweekly conference 
calls.  It is quite understandable that the discussion may continue from 
call to call.  But that means that the WG is NOT seeing the discussion 
on the list.  And that the resolution, when it comes to the list, will 
be missing a LOT of context.


On 2/26/15 11:13 AM, Mary Barnes wrote:
> 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"?