Chair Training: Focus and Productivity

23 Oct 2014

See also: IRC log, Audio recording



Jeff Jaffe, Arnaud Le Hors, Charles McCathie Nevile, Coralie Mercier, Philippe Le Hégaret, Frederick Hirsch, Anssi Kostiainen
Nigel Megitt
Arnaud Le Hors
Coralie Mercier


<Arnaud> http://www.slideshare.net/alehors/chair-training-productivity-20141021

<scribe> scribenick: koalie

Arnaud: I'm part of the open technology group at IBM
... responsible for setting up strategy for IBM as a whole when it comes to open standards
... I'm a former w3c team member
... 15 years ago
... at iBM for 15 years at the end of the month
... I have been involved with W3C in several ways
... currently chairing 3 WGs

[Slide 3]

Arnaud: By nature, chairs need to be flexible
... Then, there is W3C culture, which we're changing and that Jeff is influencing,
... Time-lines are often considered informative
... I think it's a mistake
... and we need to change this
... Yet, the constant search for a perfect solution isn't ideal either

<fjh> the timeline is a feature

<chaals> [shipping is a feature]

Arnaud: W3C is made of a diverse community
... there are challenges
... the bigger the group, the more challenges
... participants have very different backgrounds and perspectives
... challenge also to collaborate effectively
... Establishing the right atmosphere and work condition is key to making people want to participate
... We have co-chairs
... it can be both a curse, and a blessing

[slide 4]

Arnaud: The process
... is a blessing.
... it's what makes the W3C so valuable
... we produce very high-quality standards overall
... it's important the chair(s) be familiar and knowledgeable with the process
... especially early on in the WG
... take the time to educate the WG and tell them what is expected
... everybody needs to understand a minimum of the process
... you have a team contact, you can go to them for help

[slide 5]

Arnaud: Tools
... there's an array of tools available
... can be helpful
... unless you don't know how to use them
... trackbot and zakim are essential to be on calls
... identifying the participants on a call is not always easy
... again, you have to educate people, help them get to speed with them
... team contact can help there too

[slide 6]

Arnaud: keeping the working group on track and in scope
... it's often very important to develop use-cases and requirements
... it helps keeping the WG in scope
... also useful to develop a wish-list early on.
... another benefit is ability to push to wish-list some request

<chaals> [+1 to the wish list idea]

Arnaud: from a human pov it's better than simple rejection

[slide 7]

Arnaud: keeping the WG on time
... I am known to press on necessity for the WG to deliver on time and took the deadline as absolute
... and repeatedly reminded people of the time-line
... you have to keep managing it, updating it
... keep track of it, and explain to people where you are
... if you are behind, you have to face the reality
... what can you do when you're delayed?
... separate must-have from things that would be nice to have
... on the specification itself, you can prune from the spec itself
... cut out on features
... put them on the wish-list
... don't take this lightly; keep on pressing on people and that you're serious about time-line

[slide 8]

Arnaud: conducting productive meetings
... different ways to succeed
... first and foremost: send a detailed agenda
... tricky especially early on in a WG life
... it's hard to judge how much time things are going to need
... it's better to have an agenda that you modify as you go, than no agenda

<Zakim> chaals, you wanted to ask if we should aim to update charters more frequently, and aim to have them represent current state as well as scope?

chaals: using charter -- should we be aiming to update charters? should charters be living documents?

Arnaud: It depends
... scope: there are legal issues. I think it's better not to change this
... timeline: this is the starting point, so I don't think you need to update the charter
... but you should go back to the team if you have a change of scope
... and it should be communicated to the AC

Frederick: I had a concern with the time-line
... how can you handle re-start, going back to technologies

Arnaud: yes
... at the end of this presentation
... I have slides of things you don't control
... this is in this category
... this is part of things you have to accept.
... back on slide 8
... it's important to stay on point and drive the discussion
... use the queue
... you have not to allow people to take too much time, get off track and distract
... you need to center the discussion
... and make sure it is helping the group reach its goal
... as chair you should step in and interrupt any off-topic discussion
... or when people are talking past each other
... you can rephrase what you're hearing
... this can help disentangle
... another tip: avoid open-ended questions
... Also, don't let the most vocal participants use up all time
... you may prompt the quieter participants for their opinion
... and finally, make proposals.

[slide 9]

Arnaud: Consensus
... you have to make very clear proposals, write them down, make them specific
... hold a vote (+1, -1, 0)
... make sure that the group know that -1 is a blocking vote
... when someone objects, you should try to understand what the objection is about
... and what would resolve it
... how to mitigate it
... objector(s) should be able to come up with a counter proposal
... you may have to take this off-line

[slide 10]

Arnaud: Consensus vs majority vote
... consensus is not a majority vote
... it's the solution everybody can live with

Jeff: I'm not sure about the example in your slide
... I'd say proposal needs more work

Arnaud: the aim is to agree on things people can live with

[slide 11]

Arnaud: Formal objections
... goal: not lead a WG being held hostage
... if an objection is getting in the way, you should override it
... you should inform the objector what their options are
... i.e. filing a formal objection
... and you should move on

[slide 12]

Arnaud: Chair neutrality
... I try not to vote
... and remain neutral
... I am not the rep for IBM, we have other from IBM in the groups
... when there is a tie, it's reasonable the chair takes a position.

[slide 13]

Arnaud: issues and resolutions
... I like to use Tracker
... well integrated with ML, bots
... makes it convenient
... I like to have a process where everybody can raise an issue, but not open one
... and the group decides which to open, close
... one thing Tracker doesn't do: add a link to the resolution
... I need to go back after the call
... and add a small description and link to where the resolution was made, in the minutes
... some people use Github; I think it's less integrated

[slide 14]

Arnaud: enabling remote and asynchronous participation
... this is an ongoing topic within W3C
... it takes longer to decide things in e-mail
... vs everybody is on a call
... good compromise: make decisions on the call, and confirm them a week after
... that gives people who are not at the meeting a change to raise objections, bring up new information that the WG may have missed

<Zakim> chaals, you wanted to say it helps to have *fewer* mechanisms for tracking issues and to discuss this too

chaals: back to slide 13
... fewer mechanisms for tracking issues is easier
... regarding slide 14
... we write a specific proposal for resolutions in e-mail
... and there is at least one meeting where you can discuss
... but the resolution is done in e-mail the standard operating procedure

<fjh> +1 to this approach

chaals: that works well as long as you are clear on the rules

Arnaud: State a date by which people have to chime in

[slide 15]

Arnaud: Action items
... Tracker records action items and keep track of them
... make sure actions are accepted, otherwise it's counter productive
... important to review them regularly

<chaals> [+1 to reviewing action items. (and things listed "pending review")]

Arnaud: talk about the ones that are lagging, ask what the problem is
... sometimes, you'll find people are waiting for something else
... so go over those

[slide 16]

Arnaud: Developing documents
... of course, identifying editors is key
... be careful about time commitment being realistic
... also identify selected people who take explicit action item to review
... you have to be pro-active in making sure this is getting done
... also, use "marking feature at risk" when something is lacking support
... it has no cost, it allows you to remove things without going back on the process track

[slide 17]

Arnaud: Publishing documents
... a big part of what WGs do
... the whole publication process is not as easy as people expect
... so it's important that the groups chairs know it
... you have to know the schedule, what it takes to be pubrules compliant
... get help from the team contact

<chaals> [bye… Thanks Arnaud, this was helpful IMHO]

[slide 18]

Arnaud: Dealing with comments
... at any time the public at large can comment
... the chair can have a big role that this is done the proper way
... disposing of comments means you have to keep the comments, how you answer them
... you have to stay on top of that
... determine how long this is going to take
... there is a LC tracker which I find difficult to use
... so I'm using a wiki
... Set an expectation, set deadlines.
... you can not let anybody out there keeping you hostage by not replying
... you need to triage
... the editor can help assessing issues
... have the editor bring issues to the WG for discussion

[slide 19]

Arnaud: parting thoughts
... there are things you do not control
... changes that happen, people bringing up issues late in the game
... leading the WG to rethink what it's doing
... what can you do to mitigate those?
... keep an eye, be aware of events
... it can be time-consuming to reach out to people directly to find out what is going on
... but you need to take the time and ensure people will be on the call to resolve issues
... bottom line is that there is a lot that you actually do control
... if you exercise all the levers that you have

[slide 20]

Arnaud: further reading
... three links
... I highly recommend Joseph Reagle's document from the P3P harmonization WG
... it's old but still very relevant
... thank you!

Jeff: In your discussion you helped populate the dry experience of chairing with your numerous experience
... thanks for this presentation
... and thanks from W3C for your participation within w3c

<Zakim> fjh, you wanted to ask about interrupting

Frederick: How to interrupt people?

Arnaud: tricky. people say I'm a bit rude at times, but I don't really care
... I have upset a few WG members, but sorry, this was out of scope
... you won't make friends, but you're doing your duty
... you're not doing your job right if you don't step in when you should interrupt discussion
... this is for the benefit of the group.
... You can do it politely
... "I'm sorry, I need to interrupt and re-center the discussion"

[thanks all]

Arnaud: I'll be at TPAC next week
... if you have questions, contact me

<fjh> Thank you for excellent presentation !

thanks Arnaud!

<anssik> thanks Arnaud!

Summary of Action Items

[End of minutes]

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$Date: 2014-10-23 21:54:56 $