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2011-10-22 04:27 pm (UTC)
I saw that Google article too - really interesting! I think it's not that men don't actually enjoy or benefit from the 'mush' when it is actually in place - actually, all the evidence shows that looking after your people benefits everyone regardless of gender (amazing, I know!). The original article our 'evil mush' was responding to is now lost in the mists of time, but as I recall the issue there was more that in some male-dominated Open Source communities, people saw calls for a kinder and more supportive environment as a desire to create pointless mushiness that would waste time and involve empty praise.
I definitely agree with you about the need for Board members to scale down their other org commitments, especially in terms of chairing. This is one of the things I learnt the hard way when I was AD&T chair, actually - I hadn't fully appreciated, going in, that it would really be an all-consuming task that would mean I couldn't keep up the same pace in other areas. So my role leading training coders, for example, was something that I had to relinquish (even though I loved it a lot). I think it would be better for the org and for individuals if both Board member and chairs were asked to review their commitments going in and to step down from any really key / highly demanding role.
I also agree that the Board needs to have a fast turnaround, because it's so frustrating for committees if their work just goes into a black hole, and sometimes (as you point out) means that things end up having to be done in a rush at the last minute. This is something that is relevant to my professional life, because when I have to give students feedback or marks, they obviously want that quickly! SOmetimes they need my feedback so they can get the work done to meet a deadline. One of the things I have learnt in that context is that it all goes a lot more smoothly if people have a given timeline - i.e. if you can say 'you will normally hear within one week but if for some reason it's going to take longer, you will be kept informed' - they are much happier and can plan their time. So that's something I'd like to formally institute, along with some way forward for chairs if they don't hear back within that timescale (i.e. usually they'd be hearing from their Board liaison, so if they don't they can contact the whole Board, or another Board member, whatever). And if they are projects which are time sensitive, that has to be built into the timeline.
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