Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend a webinar session given by Michael Korcuska, the Sakai Foundation Executive Director, on the proposed development model for Sakai. First, I want to say that even though there were some hiccups (gotta have them!), this was one of the most beneficial forums for communication and engagement that I’ve experienced in Sakai in a long time.
One of the things I liked about the proposal was that Sakai as a product is defined. I think a lack of vision has been a major hurdle these past few years. I see this a positive step forward but the devil is in the details. Before I dive into critique, I want to be clear that I don't think these are things that can't be worked through. They just happen to be points that need careful consideration and detail before we all drink the kool aid.
To begin with, the largest hurdle is going to be communication. Let's all be honest, we're all really bad at this for a multitude of reasons! The proposal adds complexity and without clear definition of who is to do what and how we're going to end up less coordinated. In addition, I have a few simple requests: I want it to be consistent, reliable and simple. Please, please don't make me read lengthy messages where I need to analyze every word for hidden meaning.
Also, I feel *strongly* that the product council should not include members of the board. The board should be visionary and assist in laying out a broad strategy for community execution (like the current proposal!). Once those members become bogged down in the day to day operational details, they will become less effective as the visionary leaders they have been elected to be. This isn't to say that there aren't members that wouldn't be a good fit on the council - they should just be one or the other.
Lastly, it seems that the product council is not only tasked with being the gatekeepers and shepherds but also the group that defines the standards. Performing as gatekeepers and shepherds requires quite a different skill set and temperament than defining the standards. I'd advocate that a short term task force that was charged with initially defining said standards that the council could use. I think that approach could result in a much faster implementation of this process as well as garner a wider breadth of knowledge. Something that will be *key* in ensuring we have appropriate standards/criteria. Future looking, when the standards/criteria need revisiting, the council could recommend the community assemble a new task force.