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Coaching Fledgling Community Leaders

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Session Info

  • Session Name: Coaching Fledgling Community Leaders
  • Session Room & Timeslot: Room 8 @ 16:30, Sun 15 July 2012
  • Organizer: Anne Wright @annerwright
  • Note taker: Ann Barcomb @ae3nn

Key Discussion Topics


  1. Can we graft mentoring relationships into the Community Leadership Summit community?
  2. Existing resources
  3. BodyTrack Project

Community Leadership Mentoring

The session began with introductions. It was attended by 9 people, about 1/3 of whom were experienced community leaders. Anne opened the session with the question of whether mentoring relationships would be of value to the community of community leaders.

The difference between mentoring and education was explored. Mentoring was seen as being more one-on-one and Q&A based.

There was some discussion about what mechanisms might work for matching people up. Formal mentorship arrangements were seen as forced and awkward. It was agreed that a good mentoring relationship requires someone willing to mentor, who has the skills the person being mentored needs to learn. It can be easier to find someone who is willing to sit down and talk with you for 30 minutes (perhaps from your social network) - to be repeated if you both benefit in some way from the conversation - than to look for a mentoring relationship from the start.

One of the reasons that it is important to have a good match between mentor and mentee is that so many different things are meant by the title 'community leader'. This is a developing profession, which has changed drastically over the years.

It was suggested that if Anne is interested in setting up some sort of mentoring mixer for the next CLS that she should speak with Van and Jono and try to get a page up on the wiki as soon as possible. The CLS Everywhere concept was seen as maybe providing a way of finding local mentoring relationships.

Existing Resources

It was mentioned that there is a mailing list for the Community Leadership Summit attendees, but it is believed not to be active. There are many different similar lists, but none of them have taken off, perhaps because there are so many of them. A CLS list would be less impersonal than many lists, because we have met in person, but it would not provide the sort of one-on-one relationship some people are looking for.

An invite-only mailing list for people serving on OS boards was mentioned as an example of the sort of list which would be useful to CLS attendees.

The Fabulous Facilitators group which meets once a month in the Bay area, was described as a nice model for mutual assistance relationships because it offers face-to-face contact although it is not one-on-one.

The Community Roundtable was described as a collection of community managers which has an annual publication, meetings throughout the year, and webinars. It is more general and not specific to open-source communities.

The idea of a collection of information for new community managers was brought up. Jono Bacon's book was cited as a good resource, although there are limitations to written material and interactions may be helpful in fully understanding the material - although in some cases, the only way to learn something is to live it.

There are a lot of resources online.

BodyTrack

Anne was interested in receiving advice about her specific situation. BodyTrack is a project which aggregates personal health data. It currently has a closed set of developers but may be open-sourced, which is where the challenge lies: Anne sees the need for a community manager who can rally a volunteer community around the project.

One of the key problems is the complex install process; MySQL's 15-minute rule was cited as something to strive for. Another thing which was mentioned was the Connect project, which brought in Brian Behlendorf, who asked the community what they wanted to see happen and then made it happen--even if it meant discarding existing code.

There have been some published academic papers on experiences with open-sourcing.

Graphite is an up-and-coming tool which could be useful to the project.

There was detailed discussion about the technical specifications of the project. It was suggested that Anne seek out people who are working on projects which use similar technologies. Java user groups in the area are a good place to start - speaking at one of these events could give some early impressions of how to continue with the project.

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