Chair Training: Focus and Productivity

29 Jan 2015

See also: IRC log, Audio recording



Arnaud Le Hors, Tzviya Siegman, Virginie Galindo, Ralph Swick
Nigel Megitt, Josue O'Connor, Stefan HÃ¥kansson, Ann Bassetti


(reprise of the presentation delivered on 23 Oct 2014)

-> slides

Arnaud: the goal of chair training is to help chairs improve and give them the tools they need

[slide 2: Presenter Overview]

Arnaud: introducing myself; most of my career has been involved in standards and open source
... I am currently chair or co-chair of 3 WGs

[slide 3: Challenges]

Arnaud: I have been involved in many different organizations and I can tell you that W3C is very rigorous
... W3C's standards really do represent consensus of the community at large
... we are dealing with a huge audience and W3C goes to great extents to include everyone

[slide 4: Process]

Arnaud: as Chair you are responsible for insuring the Process is implemented and properly followed
... with help from the Team Contact you have to educate people, especially people new to W3C

[slide 5: Tools]

Arnaud: you need to invest time in learning all these tools so you can help your group do the best job

[slide 6: Keeping WG in Scope]

Arnaud: I find it a very useful exercise to define use cases & requirements
... it helps further define the problem and to establish common terminology among the group participants
... a wish list helps manage scope creep
... all you need for the wish list is a wiki page
... it's much easier for people to accept that you're not going to address a need immediately when you have put it on the wish list
... the wish list also becomes a great source of information for the next charter

[slide 7: Keeping WG on Time]

Arnaud: we fight the expectation of some that the timeline in the charter can be ignored
... you may not be able to force the various priorities but at least keep the Consortium informed
... you can reduce the scope -- make the spec smaller -- if you are reaching a deadline
... you do have to keep reminding the group that time is passing

[slide 8: Conducting productive meetings]

Arnaud: though hard, it's important to set detailed agenda; especially at the beginning
... you don't want to reach the end of a 2-day meeting and only then discover there are many items you haven't talked about
... you have to drive the meeting, not just manage the queue; the detailed agenda schedule helps you do this
... open-ended questions are killers; you want to keep the discussion as focussed as possible
... I have found that strawpolls are useful to determine whether a vocal participant is alone in his/her opinion

[slide 9: Consensus]

Arnaud: the word "consensus" is used by many organizations but has different meanings
... when I can I will include a specific formal proposal in the agenda beforehand
... be sure people do understand the straw poll process; new participants might not understand that "-1" is interpreted as an objection
... objections should be addressed; sometimes the objector will withdraw the objection after further discussion

[slide 10: Consensus vs Majority vote]

Arnaud: in this example, the consensus choice is the one that everyone can live with not the one that gets the numerically higher vote

[slide 11: Formal objections]

Arnaud: Formal Objections should not be allowed to stop the WG from moving on
... as chair it's your responsibility to decide when it's best for the WG to override the objection and move on

[slide 12: Chair's neutrality]

Arnaud: people have various perspectives on this but I find it easier to stay neutral
... my choice as chair is to never vote

[slide 13: Issues and Resolutions]

Arnaud: there are many ways to use Tracker; on slide 13 I describe the method I have found to work well
... I update Tracker on a weekly basis
... because the irc interface does not automatically add a reference to the resolution of an issue I always enter these links immediately after a call
... Github is getting more popular; you have to figure out how to use its tools but the process should be similar

[slide 14: Enabling remote and asynchronous participation]

Arnaud: this is a hard topic; dealing with timezones, etc.
... some WGs do everything by email. I find that too slow.
... the method I prefer is on the slide; resolutions are published in the telecon minutes but are tentative until the minutes are approved at the next call

[slide 15: Action items]

Arnaud: you have to be sure that people understand the action before accepting it; therefore do not assign actions to someone who is not present
... for actions that have been overdue for a long time I find it useful to ask the owner specifically what is blocking them

Ralph: a "Consent Calender" is a useful technique for identifying items that can be resolved without discussion
... the agenda identifies these in advance and any participant can ask for something to be removed from the "calendar"

[slide 16: Developing documents]

Arnaud: there are milestones in the charter but you need to make sure people are reviewing your documents along the way
... don't wait until the end to develop your test suite
... when you close an issue and have a resolution often this leads to good items for your test suite
... when someone says "this is what I expect", that's a good candidate for a test

[slide 17: Publishing documents]

Arnaud: publication is an essential part of the W3C Process
... for first-time editors it can be a struggle
... as chair it helps to be familiar with what it takes to move an editor's draft through the publication process, though your Team Contact can help

[slide 18: Dealing with comments]

Arnaud: responding to commenters has to be part of your regular process
... though the term "Last Call" is no longer in the Process, you still have to demonstrate wide review and that you have address all comments
... you need to document all the things you do so you can demonstrate to the Director what you have done

[slide 19: Parting thoughts]

Arnaud: when I am asked what it's like to participate in W3C I always say it is both frustrating and rewarding
... doing your part as chair helps in a big way

[slide 20: Reading material]

Arnaud: I am happy to help; if you have specific questions feel free to reach out to me
... I want to thank Joseph Reagle for the page he wrote several years ago
... I was amazed at how relevant Joseph's page still is


Summary of Action Items


[End of minutes]

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$Date: 2015-01-30 07:29:15 $