Community Leadership Summit

Austin, TX USA

5-6 May 2017

Community Leadership Summit is a lightly programmed mostly unconference event organized by Jono Bacon in cooperation with O’Reilly and OSCON. The event is focused on the art of community management and leadership. Each of the two days started with a set of prepared talks presented as a single track. After lunch we broke up into parallel tracks of unconference sessions. This is not a conference you attend to sit in talks. The value is in the networking and conversations these talks and the unconference sessions set in motion. This was my first CLS and it had some real value.

The prepared talks were interesting and varied in what they covered. The presentations included prompts for big picture questions and lessons learned in various communities. I encourage members of the Fedora community to consider the questions about how to encourage people to participate in your project as shown below. A slide I wish I had gotten a picture of made a slightly tongue-in-cheek calculation of the Return on Investment (ROI) of stickers. It was a great segue into thinking about how swag helps your project. The talks on day one were recorded and I hope they will find their way online.

The unconference sessions were proposed on the spot each day by the attendees. There was no voting to winnow down the schedule as there were never more talks than there were rooms. The schedule was built by a schedule-master in real-time out in the hallway. The goal was to combine similar sessions, where it made sense, and to build themed tracks where there were related talks. The process was very smooth and well run. This process may have run so well, in part, because so many of the participants have run their own unconferences.

These sessions varied a lot in quality and in terms of discussion. A key thing to remember about these sessions is that they are only as good as the audience. The people who propose the session are often asking questions more than stating answers and are generally trying to keep the discussion focused. If you didn’t come prepared to participate you didn’t make the conference better and you probably got very little out of it.

The sessions ranged from three different discussions about various aspects of swag and stickers to deeper conversations around inclusivity and dealing with talented people with broken social skills. Some key takeaways from the conference for me for Fedora are:

  • What is our equivalent of the slide below showing what people get out of writing for
  • What is the share of voice statistics for Fedora? How much of the Linux conversation is involving us? How much should?
  • When tracking metrics where are we publishing how they relate to goals?
  • We need to think about asking our various leaders (at all levels) to think about succession planning and enforcing a positive code of conduct.
  • Easyfix is a meaningful tag for subject-experienced new-to-the-project contributors too. Identifying advanced tasks could allow us to get more advanced work done by those new contributors who have the skills.