[Top] [All Lists]

Re: Nomcom process realities of "confidentiality"

2008-03-19 22:24:02
On Wed, Mar 19, 2008 at 10:11:09AM -0700, Dave Crocker wrote:
Add to this the fact that a) we have no detailed rules for
confidentiality but rather treat the word as having
implicit-but-total effect on behavior, b) we have no enforcement
powers over violations, and c) Nomcom members, IAB members, IESG
members and ISOC members typically do not have any background in
maintaining confidentialities of these types.

(On item c), if you think that there is no need for training or
experience, please think again.  Organization personnel matters are
peculiar processes.)


The concept of Nomcom was a creative solution to the challenge of
making formal community decisions in the absence of formal community
membership.  That said, the conduct of Nomcom processes tends
towards pretty classic personnel assessment, but with people
typically lacking classic personnel training or experience.  Coupled
with a lack of institutional specification for the construct or
enforcement against "violations" and we are certain to get distorted

What if we simply made the Nomcom access to training materials about
these matters?  I'll a number of IETF'ers, as senior technical
personnel, probably have at least some management responsibilities in
their day jobs or in the background, and for those that don't... well,
when I first joined my Church Vestry, I got a handbook on Church
Business Practices for new Vestry Members; when I first joined the
Usenix board, I got a handbook on what new Board Members for
Non-profit members needed to know and understand --- which I didn't
need, since I had already gotten a similar handbook when I was
appointed to the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts Diocesan Council.

The business issues that are needed for a board member (how to read
financial reports, issues of fiduciary duty, etc., aren't stuff that
you would expect everyone to know, but it's not *that* hard to learn
them).  Similarly, it's not that hard to learn about personnel issues.
(Not that I got any training when I had my first management
responsibility at MIT; I had to learn things the hard way.  IBM has a
better and more structured training program for new managers and new
executives.  And now that I am on assignment at the Linux Foundation,
and I am functioning in a managerial function, I knew enough to reach
out and to get some training to refresh my long-rusty managerial

OK, so knowing how to do a fair performance evaluation isn't something
we should assume a random programmer or network architect to have
under their belt.  But it's not that *hard* either.  And in companies,
there are reasons why personnel evaluations are kept confidential and
not released to the entire department after the 1st line and 2nd line
managers do the annual employee performance reviews and results of
discussions around who should get a particular promotion.  Just
because the Nomcom doesn't have training, doesn't mean that the right
answer is to throw accumulated wisdom and experience of how do proper
personnel procedures out the window, and make all discussions public.

If that means we need to have an organizational consultant give a 2
hour training course to each year's NOMCOM about how do their jobs in
a fairer way, I would think that is a much better solution than just
throwing confidentialty complete out the window.


                                        - Ted
IETF mailing list