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
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
- If TDF Marketing staff are intended to be the messengers between
Board and marketing team, what is the intended process or workflow of
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.
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