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[board-discuss] Involvement of the board in the Marketing Plan


Hi All, thanks to yesterday's marketing call, marketing team members had an opportunity to discuss 
the 5 year Marketing plan currently being drafted by Italo.

It seems like only one member of the current Board of Directors was present in that meeting (though 
there may have been some who stayed silent; please correct me).

A 5 year marketing plan, on the 10th anniversary of a project, will be a great step forward, and a 
critical piece of strategy for the future of the organisation. No doubt the Board has been deeply 
involved in putting the drafts together. I appreciate this has taken considerable energy.

Nevertheless, the absence of more Board representatives in the Marketing meeting, which may be the 
only meeting of the marketing team about the plan before it's adopted, raises some interesting 
questions for we marketers:

- If the Board's involvement was already completed privately, to what extent is the marketing team 
intended to participate in its drafting?
- If the Board's involvement is ongoing, then how do they intend to interact with the marketing 
team? With one representative in a single meeting?
- If TDF Marketing staff are intended to be the messengers between Board and marketing team, what 
is the intended process or workflow of that?

If input into the plan from the marketing team is desirable to the Board, then we as marketing team 
members need a clearer understanding of how that should be provided.

I do not take it for granted that this information was shared with the team prior to adoption 
(though to gain support from the team it seems like a sensible move).

But coordinating such a plan as this between Board, staff, and voluntary team takes more than 
passing on a largely inflexible document to a team of experts towards the end of the process. 
Product Managers call it "throwing it over the wall" when opportunities for meaningful input ended 
before handover.

The strain on this coordination is plainly visible in the plan itself, on the "preface" slides 
explaining eg the LibreOffice Online situation. It's a problem when a staff member is forced to 
hint that some topics are out of bounds in this way because they are stuck between "a rock and hard 
place" and must resort to such things to discourage input on controversial issues which can have no 
effect. 

This is a question of leadership for the board, not for TDF staff in my view, as it is 
fundamentally a question of how much control over the marketing plan should be given to the 
marketing team, and what parts it is desirable for them to contribute to, and how that should be 
communicated to them. This is a matter of the social contract between the Foundation and volunteers 
-- not just marketing.

There are many options here, to suit the Board's needs, and doing things differently need not make 
finding consensus on already hard topics, more difficult. The current draft plan is broad in scope, 
covering community management, branding, and touching on ecosystem design. Tough topics could be 
split into other sections, or strategy documents if necessary, freeing the marketing team with more 
room to influence the narrower, purely marketing topics which remain. With some brainstorming or 
reference to other Open Source projects, additional means of cooperating with the team could no 
doubt be found.

Sam.

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