Progress and Next Steps for Governance of the Drupal Community

Too long?

One of the things I love the most about my new role as Community Liaison at the Drupal Association is being able to facilitate discussion amongst all the different parts of our Drupal Community. I have extraordinary privilege of access to bring people together and help work through difficult problems.

The governance of the Drupal project has evolved along with the project itself for the last 17 years. I’m determined in 2018 to help facilitate the next steps in evolving the governance for our growing, active community.

2017 - A Year of Listening

Since DrupalCon Baltimore, the Drupal Community has:

  • Held a number of in-person consultations at DrupalCon Baltimore around the general subject of project governance

  • Ran a series of online video conversations, facilitated by the Drupal Association

  • Ran a series of text-based online conversations, facilitated by members of our community across a number of time zones

  • Gathered for a Governance Round Table at DrupalCon Nashville.

This has all led to a significant amount of feedback.

Whilst I highly recommend reading the original blog post about online governance feedback sessions for a full analysis, there was clearly a need for better clarity, communications, distributing leadership, and evolving governance.

2018 - A Year of Taking Action

There are many things happening in 2018 but I want to concentrate for now on two important activities; how we continue to develop our Values and how we can continue to develop Governance of our community.

So, why am I separating “Values” and “Governance”, surely they are connected? Well, they are connected, but they are also quite different and it is clear we need to define the difference within our community.

In the context of the Drupal Community:

  • “Values” describe the culture and behaviors expected of members of the Drupal community to uphold.

  • “Governance” describes the processes and structure of interaction and decision-making that help deliver the Project’s purpose whilst upholding the Values we agree to work by.

Values

What’s happened?

Quoting Dries:

Over the course of the last five months, I have tried to capture our fundamental Values & Principles. Based on more than seventeen years of leading and growing the Drupal project, I tried to articulate what I know are "fundamental truths": the culture and behaviors members of our community uphold, how we optimize technical and non-technical decision making, and the attributes shared by successful contributors and leaders in the Drupal project. 

Capturing our Values & Principles as accurately as I could was challenging work. I spent many hours writing, rewriting, and discarding them, and I consulted numerous people in the process. After a lot of consideration, I ended up with five value statements, supported by eleven detailed principles.”

The first draft of the Values & Principles was announced to the community at DrupalCon Nashville.

What’s next?

Now that we have the first release of the Values & Principles, we need a process to assist and advise Dries as he updates the Values & Principles. After hearing community feedback, Dries will charter a committee to serve this role. A forthcoming blog post will describe the committee and its charter in more detail.

Community Governance

What’s happened?

At DrupalCon Nashville, many useful discussions happened on governance structure and processes.

  • A Drupal Association Board Meeting, with invited community members, met to talk with existing governance groups to find out what is working and not working. We realized that governance of the Drupal Community is large and it is difficult to understand all of the parts. We began to see here a possibility for further action.

  • The Community Conversation, “Governance Retrospective”, helped us to see that improving communications throughout the community is hugely important.

  • The Round Table Discussion, around community governance, brought together Dries, staff of the Drupal Association and Drupal Association Board, representatives of many of our current community working groups, representatives of other interested groups in the community and other community members. This group looked at both Values & Principles but also looked into how we are currently governed as a community and how can improve that.

All these things lead to one of the very best things of the DrupalCon experience; the “hallway track”. More and more throughout DrupalCon Nashville, ideas were formed and people stepped forward to communicate with each other, about how we can improve our governance. This happens all the time when we discuss the code of Drupal; I’m very excited to see it happening in other aspects of our project, too.

What’s next?

A structured approach is needed to ensure all in our community understand how decisions are being made and could have input. Speaking with a number of those involved in many of the discussions above, a consensus developed that we can start putting something into action to address the issues raised. Dries, as Project Lead, has agreed that:

  • A small Governance Task Force would be created for a fixed period of time to work on and propose the following:

    • What groups form the governance of the Drupal community right now?

    • What changes could be made to governance of the Drupal community?

    • How we could improve communication and issue escalation between groups in the community?

  • Task Force membership would be made up of a small group consisting of:

    • Adam Bergstein

    • David Hernandez

    • Megan Sanicki

    • Rachel Lawson

  • This Task Force would discuss whether or not it is beneficial to form a more permanent Governance Working Group, to handle escalated issues from other Working Groups that can be handled without escalation to the Project Lead.

  • This Task Force will propose a structure, processes needed to run this new structure, charters, etc. by end of July 2018 to the Project Lead for approval.

The Governance Task Force begins work immediately. The Charter under which we will work is attached.

I will help to facilitate reporting back regularly as we progress. I look forward to 2018 showing progress on both of these initiatives.

I am, as always, very happy to chat through things - please say hello!

tl;dr

We are going to create two new committees:

  1. A Values Committee
    • to continue work on the Values & Principles
    • Still to be created and chartered - more soon in a later blog post.
  2. A Governance Taskforce
    • To look at the mechanisms of governance - how groups communicate activity, escalate issues etc
    • Will propose mechanisms of governance changes to Project Lead
    • Has a fixed lifetime of approx two months
    • Membership formed and chartered.
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