Re: Updating BCP 10 -- NomCom

Michael StJohns <> Wed, 11 February 2015 20:44 UTC

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Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2015 15:45:06 -0500
To: Allison Mankin <>, "Murray S. Kucherawy" <>
From: Michael StJohns <>
Subject: Re: Updating BCP 10 -- NomCom
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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.

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 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.

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).


At 04:24 AM 2/11/2015, Allison Mankin wrote:

>Murray,  see if these paragraphs work in the draft.  I've covered the points that I suggested in my point 3 that you quoted.  Thanks very much for the ping!!
>Section ?? Â - Hiring Manager Responsibilities of the Nomcom
>The voting members of the Nomcom serve as hiring managers for the leadership of the IETF.  That responsibility includes not only assessing whether those nominated are technically capable of the leadership roles in question but also whether they will serve well to lead others and work synergistically in the bodies, the IESG, the IAB, and the IAOC.  To make good judgements on these axes, the Nomcom needs to cultivate very good listening (to interviews, to feedback).  Even more so, the Nomcom should cultivate their skills of  "slow thinking" as they evaluate, interview and deliberate.  The Nomcom should be careful to really digest the resumes, feedback and other input about candidates, because otherwise it is too easy to pick a familiar or "famous" candidate when a less well-known candidate may have a great deal more to offer.  This term "slow thinking" comes from the 2011 book "Thinking Fast and Slow" by the economics Nobelist Daniel Kahneman.  Slow thinking refers to careful, thorough, deliberative processes of thought, in contrast to rapid judgements, intuition, gut feelings, all of which make up fast thinking.  During fast thinking, unconscious biases have extra sway so that equal or more competent nominees may be dismissed too quickly compared with nominees who are "known quantities."   Fast thinking is likely to result in not truly digesting and perceiving every candidate's skills - based on gut feelings, nominating panels give less time to the unfamiliar resumes, are less conscious of all the qualifications of the less familiar candidates.  It is very important for the IETF as an organization that excellent nominees not be inadvertently overlooked. 
>Section ?? - A Note about Interviewing
>Interviews that the Nomcom decides to conduct need to be carefully planned and organized to emphasize fairness and consistency to the candidates.  While the specific procedures will be determined by each Nomcom aided by the Nomcom Chair, here are some overarching principals:  it is advisable to prepare a starting slate of questions that each nominee in particular positions will all be asked; this ensures a basic fairness and also helps to make interviews complete.  Each interview should have sufficient participants, including a set minimum number of voting members.  One approach to organizing interviews is for the Chair to assign a Lead, a Scribe, and one or more Observers for each.  The outcome of having consistently sized and organized interview panels is that all nominees will receive fair amounts of attention and sufficient efforts on interview reports to be shared with the rest of the Nomcom.   
>On 11 February 2015 at 02:40, Murray S. Kucherawy <<>> wrote:
>Cycling back around since the threads died off:
>On Fri, Jan 9, 2015 at 10:40 AM, Allison Mankin <<>> wrote:
>3. A bit fuzzier, but I think important, would be to include some guiding language for Nomcoms about their task as hiring managers recruiting and selecting leadership for the IETF.  I found it very important to advise my Nomcom to use "slow thinking"  (in Kahneman's sense) and make sure to really digest the resumes, questionnaires and feedback, because the pace of the Nomcom and human nature tend to result in "fast" or intuitive dismissal of some really good candidates based on e.g. their having less fame.  Similarly, without constraining the exact procedures, it is important to explicitly find ways to make interviews consistent across candidates and to have enough of a panel of interviewers.  The pace and stress of scheduling interviews means it's important to put these goals front and center, because they are actually quite challenging to accomplish.
>I can propose some text for these.
>Hi Allison,
>I think I've nailed down the other two, but I would really like some text for this last one.  You probably have a much better idea of what you'd like to see here than I do.
>I may post -02 tonight so people can see the other proposed changes.  If I do that, I can catch your text in -03.