Book Review: Managing the Nonprofit Organization

If you follow any of the links to Amazon in this post, any purchases you make will send a referral fee to the GNOME Foundation.

Peter Drucker‘s Managing the Nonprofit Organization
was full of good ideas. I started ripping off pieces of my bookmark to mark interesting pages and ended up with no bookmark!

Managing the Nonprofit Organization discusses mission, marketing, fund raising, performance, people, relationships and developing the leader.

Mission

According to Drucker, mission matters most in a nonprofit – much more than the leader’s charisma or talents. Non-profits exist to bring about change in individuals and society and focusing on the desired outcome is essential for defining plans, executing a strategy and putting the right people in the right roles.

A few specifics he had in this section were:

  • New ideas should be tried out separately – you shouldn’t try to convert the whole organization at once. “Babies don’t belong in the living room, they belong in the nursery.” I’m not sure I agree with the quote but I agreed with the idea that it’s often easiest to incubate an idea in part of an organization before you move it mainstream.
  • Focus on people’s strengths, not what they don’t have when hiring. He said in most interview processes people talk a lot about what each candidate is missing instead of the strengths they bring to the table. A criteria he really liked was asking the question: “Would I want one of my sons to work under that person? Would I want my son to look like this?”
  • Unlike for profit businesses, non-profits have lots of bottom lines, not just profit. Not just one constituent, one group they are trying to please.
  • Don’t forget to offer training for volunteers! Give them the tools they need and treat them not as volunteers but as nonpaid staff. (This idea comes up again and again in the book.)
  • Mistakes are part of education, as long as that person wants to try.
  • Measure leadership not by publicity but by how organization adjusts to change, how well does the organization deal with conflict, meet the needs of customers, etc?

He also talked a lot about the importance of understanding your mission and articulating it well. I paid attention in this section because a couple of the GNOME advisory board members have told me they couldn’t articulate GNOME’s mission. (It’s to provide a free desktop accessible to everyone regardless of ability, language spoken or financial status.)

His example of a mission that is often misunderstood is a hospital’s mission. Most people (even those working at the hospital) think that hospitals exist to keep people well. If that was the case, they’d focus on outreach to healthy people. A hospital’s mission is to help the sick. Knowing that changes how you work.

Marketing and Fundraising (He calls it “From Mission to Performance”.)

Marketing is not selling or advertising, as most people think.
Marketing is studying the market, segmenting it, targeting the right
groups, positioning yourself and creating a service to meet that
group’s needs.

What’s of value to your customer? Don’t start with
the product but with the satisfied customer. Companies typically learn
about their customers but they should focus on people that should be
their customers but aren’t.

On fundraising:

“Fundraising is going around with a begging bowl, asking for money because the need is so great. Fund development is creating a constituency which supports the organization because it deserves it.” I don’t think the term fund development has caught on but the point is a good one – you want people supporting the organization because they believe in the mission and how the organization is carrying it out, not because they feel sorry for all the people in the world that are starving.

This made me think we should change some of the GNOME goals from “hiring a system administrator” to being able to receive reports from users about problems in less than two minutes. Or something that shows how a system administrator will help with our mission.

He also pointed out you should make sure you tell your donors about the results you accomplish. “Educate donors so they can recognize and accept results” -” they don’t automatically understand what the organization is trying to do.”

Donors are customers – focus on what they need. Why are they supporting your mission?

Performance

Nonprofits have lots of people they need to perform for (unlike businesses.) Nonprofits need to satisfy employees, volunteers, donors, board, beneficiaries, …

He talked a lot about decisions:

  • Disagreement (but not fighting or bickering) is essential for good decision making. Fighting and bickering is a sign of a need of change – you’re probably set up to meet yesterday’s needs, not today’s. (Given the amount of back and forth I see on some mailing lists, I thought this was important. Perhaps those groups are showing that its time for a bigger change of mission or organization.)
  • If there’s consensus on a decision you probably haven’t decided much or people don’t really understand the issue. There should be discussion and disagreement.
  • No decision is made until someone is assigned to work on it. Some one accountable with a plan. And especially in nonprofits you need to think about what training and tools that person needs.
  • Make sure you really know what a decision is about – often the decision
    is a sign of a bigger problem and a bigger underlying decision that
    needs to be made.

I thought he had a couple of points that free software projects would agree with:

  • “Don’t tolerate discourtesy.” “One learns to be courteous – it is needed to enable different people who don’t necessarily like each other to work together.”
  • “Build an organization around information and communication instead of around hierarchy” People have to be responsible for educating their colleagues and bosses, for making sure they are understood.

And a few more points on managing performance:

  • Delegators rarely follow up with the people they delegated too but they should because they are still responsible for that work.
  • Never start out with the negative points in a review – you’ll never forget that part. Be sure to focus on the strengths – the things they can do well instead of the things they can’t do.
  • A big difference between businesses and nonprofits in his mind is that
    businesses are used to making mistakes but nonprofits think they have
    to be perfect. When mistakes are made, the focus should not be on whose
    fault but rather on who is going to fix this?

And one big one:

You have to be able to define what the results are – the results on the world, not the organization. I think this is one area nonprofits have a particularly hard  time with. Even when we define a result, we don’t know how to measure it. GNOME wants everyone to have access to desktop technologies. How do we measure that? How do we know if things are getting better? Is it when we have a complete free desktop? Or when more people in developing countries can access it? Or when it’s in more languages so that more people can use it? And if it’s all of the above, how do we measure it?

People

Drucker’s advice is to hire people with a proven track record not people with high aptitude for success. And to focus on strengths and the mission when placing someone.

He thought developing new leaders often takes more than just one mentor. He had example where a really successful leadership development program actually provided four “mentors” for each potential leader:

  1. a mentor to guide
  2. a teacher to help develop new skills
  3. a judge to evaluate progress
  4. an encourager to encourage them to try again when they made mistakes

I think some of my favorite managers were Peter Drucker fans, or at least they’d learned the same skills or had the same insights. He said something that I learned from my very first manager at HP.

“An executive’s first responsibility is to enable people who want to do the job, who are paid for doing the job, who supposedly have the skills to do the job, to be able to do it. Give them the tools they need, the information they need, and get rid of the things that trip them up, hamper them, slow them down. But the only way to find out what those things are is to ask. Don’t guess – to and ask.”

(My manager came up to me one day and asked me what I needed to do my job better. I came out ahead a new computer and a couple of meetings less. He was my hero! With more insight and experience now, I might ask for different things but the thought – that managers exist to help their employees get their work done – has stayed with me throughout my career.)

Some other tips from this section:

  • Build relationships with the people you serve. He had an example of a hospital that everyone loved even though it wasn’t the best hospital because the hospital always called a few weeks after a visit to follow up.
  • Treat volunteers as unpaid staff. Hold them to high standards. Give them responsibility, training, tools and hold them to it.
  • Make sure you don’t lose the top of your class, your best volunteers. Keep them inspired and everyone else will stay.
  • When working with a group of people (like the board), meet with them before hand, at least the key ones. You can’t change their minds in a meeting and even if you don’t change their mind, you will have set them up to understand what you are trying to do.
  • When building a team, start with what you are trying to do and then
    match skills with work. The purpose of a team is to “make the strengths
    of each person effective”.

He had a really good idea for meetings between leads and non-leads
that I’m going to try. Leads should say:

“This is what you are doing
that helps me. This is what you are doing that hampers me. And what do
I do that helps you? What do I do that hampers you.”

Developing yourself as a leader

This section started out with some excellent advice I wish I could get many of my friends to hear:

“The right decision is to quit if you are in the wrong place, if it is basically corrupt, or if your performance is not being recognized. Promotion itself is not the important thing. What is important is to be eligible, to be equally considered. If you are not in such a situation, you will all too soon begin to accept a second-rate opinion of yourself.”

I actually left a job because a promotion came up and my manager said that nobody that worked for him was ready for it. I could have understood if I wasn’t ready or a few of us weren’t, but we’d all worked for him for a long time. The thought that he hadn’t been working with us to make sure we were ready made me realize I wanted to work with someone who would provide more opportunities for learning and growth.

Some more advice in this section:

  • Change is necessarily to stimulate yourself. Burnout often just means you are bored. His solution to burnout is to work harder! But work harder at something a big different. Like volunteer at a different organization or arrange for a couple of visits to similar (but different) organizations. So when you are feeling burnout or stress, you should work harder! 
  • To learn from your work and life, write down what you expect to happen every time you launch a new activity. Then compare it to what did happen later.
  • Always answer the question “What do you want to be remembered for?” He points out that your answer should change as you get older and wiser!

I also learned some where along the way that the best job you could do is to work yourself out of a job – then the job was really done. (Note that some people get really nervous when you say this to them, especially when they are working for you! I always assure people that there’s plenty, plenty, plenty of work to be done out there.) The manager that taught me this must have also read Peter Drucker’s books:

“If I were to leave tomorrow, I don’t think it would make much difference. They would carry on.” That’s the proudest boast any executive can make, to have built the team that will perpetuate my work, my vision, my institution. That, in my experience, really distinguishes the true achiever.

So if you are interested in learning about management, Peter Drucker has some good insights.

Stormy’s Update: Week of July 20th

This is my update for work done for the GNOME Foundation, reprinted from the GNOME Foundation blog. For a higher level overview for what I do as the Executive Director, see What do I do as Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation?

Thanks to everyone who helped get things done this week!

I think we could have a bunch more roles in GNOME. We could have
someone in charge of customer case studies, someone responsible for
GNOME presentation materials (slide templates, business cards), someone
in charge of potential sponsor identification, etc.  If anyone sees a
common thread of tasks and thinks they are up to, suggest an
appropriate title and let the Foundation know you are interested!

We now have a donate section on the right hand side of the GNOME home page thanks to Andreas Nillson, Paul Cutler and Andre Klapper.

Touched base with John Carr about how the system administration team is doing. They have a team formed that’s been hard at work and have posted minutes from their last meeting. New requests can be logged in bugzilla now.

I emailed Hackerthreads
about our GNOME store plans but didn’t get a response. (I’ve never
gotten a response from them about anything I’ve emailed them but they
email Rosanna every once in a while and they send us a percentage of
all the proceeds they get from GNOME merchandise.)

Added June numbers to Friends of GNOME spreadsheet and posted a Friends of GNOME update
to the Foundation blog. (June numbers weren’t great but it was good to
see the subscription revenue hold steady. We are almost at our initial
annual goal of $20,000! Thanks to all our Friends of GNOME!)

Asked all GNOME teams for Q2 results for the Q2 quarterly report that will come out in a couple of weeks.

Pinged a couple of times about GUADEC 2008 finances and heard that Baris is working on the tax situation in Turkey.

Prepared slides for my OSCON talk on the role of users in free software projects.

Paul Cutler set up a microblog@gnome.org email address so the
identica/twitter team can post from email. (Let us know if you’d like
to help identica/twitter or set up a plan for how best to do that.)

Went to OSCON in San Jose for two days.

  • Gave my talk on users in free software projects – it started some good discussions.
  • Met with potential GNOME partners like FOSSFA.
  • Met with a GNOME Mobile member who would like to get more involved.
  • Put lots of faces to names. Hopefully I can remember them all.
  • Attended Open Source for America launch party. The GNOME Foundation is a founding member!
  • Met Stefano Maffulli very briefly in person and discussed where to
    advertise Funambol sponsored GNOME related projects (that they are
    willing to pay for)
  • Interviewed with Paul Hudson from TuxRadar. He posted some snippets. Full interview to come later.

Met with another advisory board member to get their feedback. (And
to encourage them to pay their way overdue advisory board fees.)

Met with a large financial company who is trying to move to
GNOME/Linux desktops. Talked about ways to get their issues in front of
GNOME developers for discussion. Look for blog interviews or GNOME
Journal articles or something similar!

My priorities for this week:

  • thank all the Desktop Summit sponsors (Still hoping
    someone from the marketing team will help compile a list of all the
    press and blogs that came out of the Desktop Summit.)
  • Identify someone to lead case study activity:
    • Publish case studies/success stories from the
      foundation (This was an idea that came up on the marketing list and
      Novell has already sent us a great GNOME customer story that we can
      use.)
    • ask other sponsors to help Sun, Red Hat, Canonical for customer stories
  • find someone to help Dave Richards with the usability
    hackfest he’d like to hold in the City of Largo (Lucas Rocha is helping
    to find someone.)
  • summarize advisory board feedback for foundation list
  • summarize advisory board feedback for advisory board (close to ready)
  • fill out Google Adwords Grant Application
  • apologize to invited journalists who didn’t make the Desktop Summit because there travel wasn’t booked
  • get feedback from advisory board members on advisory board meeting at GUADEC
  • create wiki page for GNOME press team
  • get agreement signed by GNOME folks for the work Canonical is funding on bugzilla for GNOME
  • Find speakers for the Desktop panel I am now chairing at OpenSource World. (In addition to my talk.)
  • Meeting with Paul Cutler in person to talk about updating GNOME marketing wiki pages.
  • Speaking at a Colorado Springs Linux User Group.

More stuff that needs to be done:

  • finalize 401K plan with attorneys (pinged attorney again – I know she’s been traveling as I saw her at OSCON. :)
  • blog about travel committee – they did an excellent job with the Desktop Summit
  • follow up with people who had good ideas at GUADEC that they mentioned to me
  • Talk to Jim Zemlin about Moblin & Linux Foundation and relationship to GNOME Foundation
  • GNOME 3.0 launch plans? Include advisory board companies
  • follow up with OIN – they list GNOME as a partner (Dave Neary met with them at OSCON and followed up with an email)
  • Follow up with someone who had ideas for a GNOME project and wanted to know how to go about it
  • talk to Mozilla about their  Accessibility Strategy
  • figure out how to work with Spanish government (Janjo Marin sent me some ideas.)
  • Fill out paperwork for 401K insurance
  • continue to ping about automating Friends of GNOME data input process (paypal to gnucash to webpage)
  • Finance stuff (waiting on a treasurer):
    • add checks to Friends of GNOME spreadsheet
    • Work on budget with new treasurer
  • Figure out how to get product news from News
    Foundation blog to press and advisory board (will probably give to
    press team when it is created)
  • find someone to help create a GNOME slideset template
  • Find out how to review new gnome webpage content so I can help
  • Amazon mp3 download uses GTK – contact them about sponsorship
  • write up blurbs about why companies sponsor GNOME (or
    find people to help) – for our website (Maybe someone would like to
    help with sponsors?)
  • find someone who can help create a list of
    recommended desktop apps that OpenLogic would put in their library for
    enterprise customers
  • GNOME Foundation sponsorship plan like premium sponsorship – put in wiki
  • follow up with sys admin team about installing a CRM
    system for the GNOME Foundation (It would really help the board,
    Rosanna, myself and others working on contacts, sponsors and finances.)
  • follow up with the sys admin team on setting up
    better analytics for gnome.org so marketing can make better plans.
    (They are working on this one.)
  • follow up with International Cooperation group from
    the university where the Desktop Summit was housed (They’d like to work
    with us to promote free software in developing countries.)
  • send finance update out to advisory board (I’ll be doing this once a month.)
  • Figure out who could attend a conference in Saudi Arabia to discuss potential financial support for adabizing programs
  • write up notes from marketing BOF at the Desktop Summit
  • Help Rosanna recruit someone to help automate some
    more of the Friends’ process – like getting Friends of GNOME donor
    names on the website as they come in

I’m not superstitious but …

I'm not superstitious but if I thought it'd help, I'd throw some salt over my shoulder.

  • During my trip two weeks ago, I got a sinus infection, my plane got hit by lightening, and we diverted to Wyoming.
  • During my trip this week, I got a stomach flu, my plane was late and I had a flat tire at 1:00 am.

It's been exciting but I think I'm going to stay home for a bit.

Stormy’s Update: Week of July 13th

This is my update for work done for the GNOME Foundation, reprinted from the GNOME Foundation blog. For a higher level overview for what I do as the Executive Director, see What do I do as Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation?

First thing Monday morning I went to the doctor who determined that
I had a sinus infection. (For fellow travelers, if your cheekbones ache
and your teeth feel like they are going to fall out every time the
plane takes off and lands, you may have a sinus infection. Not only did
I have the scheduled 3 takeoffs and landings on my trip home from the
Desktop Summit but when our plane got hit by lightening, they threw in
a bonus landing and takeoff in Wyoming!)

Followed up on some Desktop Summit stuff:

  • Sent co-locating survey results to both KDE and GNOME boards.
    Attended GNOME Board decision meeting about co-locating in the future.
    (You’ll have to wait for them to say what the decision was …)
  • Pinged sponsor companies about banners that were left behind.
  • Helped draft co-located press release.

Pinged attorney about 401K plan. (Our attorney did meet with the plan’s attorney.)

Trying to help figure out a board meeting time – with seven board
members around the world with jobs and school, it’s hard to find a time
that works. Our current time doesn’t work very well for folks in India,
like Srini. (He did stay up until 3am last time though to dial in!)

Read the GNOME Annual Report 2008. Nice job, Lucas, writers and photographers! It was a good year for GNOME.

Created a Zazzle account for the new GNOME Store. (Got permission to have a 5 letter login and store name, gnome.)

Set up a press interview about my talk at OpenSource World.

Wrote my Friends of GNOME post cards. They went to Finland, Australia, Cyprus, and Canada as well as several US states! Sign up to support GNOME with a Friends of GNOME monthly subscription and get a postcard from your favorite hacker!

Created some Amazon affiliate accounts in US, UK, Canada and Germany
so that Jaap can set up stores and a Firefox widget that will enable
people to direct Amazon referral fees for their purchase to GNOME.

Talked to a couple of sponsors (Canonical, IBM) about things they’d like to see done and things they are willing to sponsor.

Met with Sally from HALO Worldwide. She
helps the Apache Foundation with their press and marketing and teaches
a class every year at ApacheCon. We talked about how she could help
with GNOME marketing and pres. I’d love to have a marketing hackfest
and have her come teach a press class.

Met with Paul Cutler about all the things we’d like to get going on
GNOME marketing, following up on all the conversations from the Desktop
Summit.

Went through all my email and notes from the Desktop Summit and created an enormous todo list.

For next week:

  • Create slides for my OSCON talk, the Role of Users in Open Source Projects. It will be based on [Correction] The Role of Consumers in an Open Source Community.
    Speaking of OSCON, I really like the system they have set up for
    identifying which talks you want to see, what other talks people
    interested in those talks are interested in and identifying who will be
    at the conference and who you’d like to meet. It would be great to have
    something like that for GUADEC.
  • Attending two days of OSCON. (Short trip this year to save on hotel
    stays and to minimize time away from home as I’ve already spent 10 days
    away from home this month.)
  • Tackling as many items from the rest of my todo list as possible.

The rest of my to do list. (Let me know if you’d like to help on any
of the projects!) These are not in any particular order here.

  • thank all the Desktop Summit sponsors (Hoping someone
    from the marketing team will help compile a list of all the press and
    blogs that came out of the Desktop Summit.)
  • finalize 401K plan with attorneys
  • blog about travel committee – they did an excellent job with the Desktop Summit
  • ask all teams for input on Q2 report
  • follow up with potential sponsor who was at GUADEC
  • follow up with people who had good ideas at GUADEC that they mentioned to me
  • Talk to Jim Zemlin about Moblin & Linux Foundation and relationship to GNOME Foudnation
  • GNOME 3.0 launch plans? Include advisory board companies
  • publish June Friends of GNOME data
  • Publish case studies/success stories from the
    foundation (This was an idea that came up on the marketing list and
    Novell has already sent us a great GNOME customer story that we can
    use.)
  • ask other sponsors to help Sun, Red Hat, Canonical for customer stories
  • find people to help with the customer testimonials (case study article, quotes, slides, sidebar)
  • find someone to help Dave Richards with the usability hackfest he’d like to hold in the City of Largo
  • find sponsors for GNOME foundation booth in 2010 CSUN
  • apologize to invited journalists who didn’t make the Desktop Summit because their travel wasn’t booked
  • talk to OIN – they list GNOME as a partner
  • Follow up with someone who had ideas for a GNOME project and wanted to know how to go about it
  • summarize advisory board feedback for foundation list
  • summarize advisory board feedback for advisory board (close to ready)
  • fill out Google Adwords Grant Application
  • talk to Mozilla about their  Accessibility Strategy
  • figure out how to work with Spanish government (Janjo Marin sent me some ideas.)
  • Fill out paperwork for 401K insurance
  • add checks to Friends of GNOME spreadsheet
  • continue to ping about GUADEC 2008 finances
  • continue to ping about automating Friends of GNOME data input process (paypal to gnucash to webpage)
  • Work on budget with new treasurer
  • Figure out how to get product news from News
    Foundation blog to press and advisory board (will probably give to
    press team when it is created)
  • find someone to help create a GNOME slideset template
  • get back to Funambol on where to advertise GNOME related projects that they are willing to pay for
  • Find out how to review new gnome webpage content so I can help
  • Amazon mp3 download uses GTK – contact them about sponsorship
  • write up blurbs about why companies sponsor GNOME (or find people to help) – for our website
  • find someone who can help create a list of
    recommended desktop apps that OpenLogic would put in their library for
    enterprise customers
  • GNOME Foundation sponsorship plan like premium sponsorship – put in wiki
  • follow up with sys admin team about installing a CRM
    system for the GNOME Foundation (It would really help the board,
    Rosanna, myself and others working on contacts, sponsors and finances.)
  • follow up with the sys admin team on setting up better analytics for gnome.org so marketing can make better plans.
  • follow up with International Cooperation group from
    the university where the Desktop Summit was housed (They’d like to work
    with us to promote free software in developing countries.)
  • get feedback from advisory board members on advisory board meeting at GUADEC
  • send finance update out to advisory board (I’ll be doing this once a month.)
  • Figure out who could attend a conference in Saudi Arabia to discuss potential financial support for adabizing programs
  • write up notes from marketing BOF at the Desktop Summit
  • get identica@gnome.org email address so identica/twitter team can post from email
  • create wiki page for GNOME press team
  • get agreement signed by GNOME folks for the work Canonical is funding on bugzilla for GNOME
  • Make sure we get donate button on gnome.org front page
  • Find speakers for the Desktop panel I am now chairing at OpenSource World. (In addition to my talk.)

Mommy come back!

This week I've taken Caleb, my two year old, into daycare a few times and had a few entertaining discussions. (Normally I pick the kids up, not drop them off. But being gone for 10 days for GUADEC was hard on the family so I've been trying to help Frank get caught up at work. My agreement with the family is that I'll be home on weekends and try to make trips short. GUADEC doesn't fit that arrangement very well.)

Actually, every day I was at GUADEC, I had the same entertaining discussion with Caleb:

Me: What did you do today?

Caleb: I caught two fish, Jacob caught none!

Jacob: (In the background.) But Daddy helped you!

On Monday when I took Caleb in I talked to him about what we'd done over the weekend.

Me: We went to the jazz festival, we played in the sprinklers and went to Granny and Papaws! What else did we do?

Caleb: MOMMY COME BACK!

It was good to feel loved! 

The next day on the way in, he commiserated with me that I wasn't a kid:

Me: What are you going to do today?

Caleb: Play friends.

Me: That sounds like fun.

Caleb: Mommy do that?

Me: I wish I could. It sounds like it'd be a good time.

Caleb: Mommy be small.

If I was a kid, I could play all day too!

Who do you blog for?

As most writers can tell you, you write for somebody else. You write because you want someone else to read your opinion, your knowledge or your funny stories. The problem is that many of us bloggers don't know exactly who we are writing for. A couple thousand people a day may land on your blog and despite the best analytics you may not know who they are. And who you write for may change. I originally started writing for my friends but over time I've picked up a large readership, many of whom I don't know personally. A very small percentage of readers actually leave comments so I don't really get a chance to know them.

I ask who you blog for because lately I've gotten a lot of comments about what I'm writing about, and I have to say, I've found some of them flattering, some of them funny and some insulting. I write about what I find interesting or important and I hope others find it interesting or educational, that's why I share it. I don't believe I actually write for any one audience. (Although occasionally I have an audience in mind when I write a particular post.)

So here are some comments I've gotten (I find many of them funny) and my response:

  • "You don't do much work, you're always talking about surveys or hunting or kids." Hmm, this is Stormy's Corner, not Stormy's job log. While I tend to work a lot, I do lots of other things too and I write about whatever I want to share at the moment with no thought on how much I've blogged about "work" versus "family" versus "hobbies". (You can read about my work in the Foundation blog. And see the next point.) So if you think I have too much time to write about other things, I think perhaps you should get a few hobbies of your own too. Also note that most posts take me 20-30 minutes so it's not like I'm spending hours and hours writing …
  • "You write too much about work." I actually feel kind of bad for my readers that started reading this blog before I was allowed to blog about work and now are learning much more about open source software and GNOME than they ever wanted to know. Well, guys, it is an important part of my life, and I do think it's really important you understand how important open source software is for our world. Hopefully you can tell from the title whether or not you want to read the post and skip the rest.
  • "Your posts are really different than the other posts on Planet GNOME
    and I appreciate reading about topics I wouldn't otherwise think
    about."
    Thanks!
  • "You blog about hunting." Actually, I think I've only blogged about hunting once or twice. I understand many of my readers are vegetarians. Many of my friends and some of my family are vegetarian. My hunting posts are mostly about the people I hunt with not the nuts and bolts. Hunting is actually a highly controlled sport that is used for population control and revenue generation in the states, and I don't think it's evil but I'm not going to talk lots about it one way or the other. I don't push hunting here and I'd appreciate if you wouldn't insult my kids because you don't like the fact I hunt.
  • "Where do you find time to blog?" I usually blog about things I've been thinking about. You could say I blog when I'm walking the dog or driving the car. By the time I sit down "to blog", I can usually type up the blog post in 20 minutes or so. (And sometimes I don't have enough time to think about any one thing long enough to construct a blog post – see the last few weeks …)
  •  "Where do you get your ideas?" From everywhere, all day long. I have a list a mile long on things I could blog about. Hopefully I screen enough of them that my blog is interesting. It seems to be working for my current readers.

So who do I write for? I don't really know. I know my readers contain:

  • friends
  • family – A couple of years ago I discovered that a great-aunt I hadn't seen since I was 3 years old was reading my blog! How awesome is that? I've also gotten to know a few of my cousins better though blogging.
  • Planet GNOME readers
  • Some press folks
  • GNOME people
  • People interested in open source software
  • People whose blog I read
  • People who think my kid stories are cute (who doesn't 😉
  • People who found one or two of my posts really useful and so subscribed to the rest
  • People I've met at conferences, …

Who are you and why are you reading Stormy's Corner?

Who do you blog for?

Stormy’s Update: Week of July 5th

Cross posted from the GNOME Foundation blog where you can find previous updates.

Spent the week at the Desktop Summit/GUADEC in Gran Canaria.

Met with a ton of people. Putting lots of faces to names. (Some
people need new hackergotchis, identi.ca and twitter icons. Me
included.) Managed to see a couple of talks too.
I have to admit I was most interested in the questions and discussions
that the presentations generated. I was very excited that many people
reported interesting KDE/GNOME conversations.

Realized that while this year I don’t have several hundred GNOME
people to meet for the first time, I suddenly have several hundred KDE
people to meet … I met quite a few at the Nokia party as I was one of
the first (if not the first) GNOME person to show up.

Igalia sponsored the GNOME party and didn’t forget our traditions:
ice cream death match and jam session. It was a great time! (The
whiskey thing happened another night. I decided it was wisest not to
attend that party.)

The board of advisors meeting went well. We had a round table in the
morning followed by a finance update and a call for help with
hackfests. (Almost all the sponsors would very much like to see us do
more hackfests we just have to figure out how to get the funding.) We
also got some great commitments to help with Friends of GNOME, GNOME
customer success stories and hackfests. After an excellent lunch in a
Persian restaurant that Rosanna, Owen and Blizzard found, we returned
for a discussion with the GNOME 3.0 projects. (All those projects
involved in GNOME 3.0.)

I had breakfast with some local government and university officials.
I sat next to Jose Miguel Santos Espino, the director of the computer
science department, and I happened to tell him about the GNOME and KDE
folks in Nigeria that couldn’t get visas to come. A couple of days
later he contacted me with an excellent proposal. He suggested that we
work with their International Cooperations Department to find ways to
bring free software to countries in Africa as well as Latin America and
Asia. We had a good conversation with Josefa de la Rosa Cantos and we
will work with them during their next conference of Spanish and African
universities.

I also got a chance to talk to Antonio Jose Saenz Albanes who is
working a project to deploy 2 million laptops to students in Andalucia.
His main problem is accessibility so I introduced him to the GNOME
accessibility team.

The GNOME Mobile BOF started out the same way that so many GNOME
Mobile BOFs do trying to define what is GNOME mobile but we actually
progressed during this one which was awesome. GNOME Mobile is a place
for people using GNOME Mobile technologies to collaborate. However,
we’ll build on the GNOME brand, not the GNOME Mobile brand. We also
brainstormed quite a few ideas, like inviting the maintainers for key
GNOME technologies to join the GNOME Mobile mailing list.

AGM – the GNOME Foundation annual meeting. The AGM went really well even though we competed with many
other attractions. All the teams gave an update. We’ll be posting
minutes and slides but in the meantime you can check out the GNOME
identi.ca
feed where the AGM was broadcast live.

The marketing BOF was late Thursday afternoon in a really hot room but people had some great ideas. (We were hot!) We discussed things like marketing campaigns, audiences (existing GNOME
users, not developers), having regional presence on the to-be-formed
press team. and we decided we’d put together 4 case studies (GNOME
success stories) by the end of the month. Anne Ostergaard suggested the
Andalusian school project. Guy Lunardi provided a Novell customer
story. I took notes and we’ be publishing soon.

Survey. If you are part of the GNOME community and you haven’t already filled out the survey, please take the co-locating survey.
We’ll be deciding next week whether we are co-locating again or not
next year. One thing I’ve noticed about the respondents so far is that
of the people that collaborated with a KDE person, 95+% think the
co-located Desktop Summit was a success. Among those that didn’t
collaborate with a KDE person, only 35% think the Desktop Summit was a
success.

Starting the 20+ hour trip home tomorrow at 4am. Looking forward to seeing the family!