The LoCo Council Optimizes LoCo Teams For Success

For those of you who are interested in Ubuntu, you may be familiar with LoCo Teams. These are Ubuntu user groups based all over the world that advocate Ubuntu, help people with their Ubuntu questions and more. The LoCo community is a fundamental part of the Ubuntu family and they do incredible work.

If you want to find a team in your area, see the LoCo Directory and if a team does not exist create one!. You can also keep up to date with things going on in the community with the #locoteams hashtag and on the Facebook page.

Yesterday I had a call with Laura from the LoCo Council and we talked through much of the fantastic work going on in the community and also some of the blockers. Laura then mentioned something that I wanted to tend to with a blog post. She basically said:

Some people seem to think that a LoCo Team talking to the LoCo Council
is a sign of weakness. We want to change that perception.

I agree with Laura that this is a perception which is unhealthy. I just wanted to share a few words why.

I see the LoCo Council as fulfilling two primary roles in our community:

  • Optimizing teams for success – the LoCo Council is there to help teams be the most productive, fun, and enjoyable that they can be. The LoCo Council is a resource for providing advice, guidance, helping teams to know what resources and opportunities are available, and more.
  • Helping teams with barriers to success – all teams face challenges, and the LoCo Council is there to help teams and their leaders scale these challenges and to ensure the team continues to be as successful as possible.

Both of these roles are fundamentally based around helping teams to be successful. As such, liaising with the LoCo Council is not evidence of failure, it is instead evidence of a desire to make the team the best it can be – it is evidence of responsibility for your team and the community. I see those who use the LoCo Council for help as really awesome contributors who care about their teams. Rock and roll to those people!

I would like to ask all of you who hear this misplaced perception that talking to the LoCo Council is a sign of weakness, to remind folks that taking to the LoCo Council is a good thing and not a bad thing. Thanks!

  • http://bioselement.com/ William Chambers

    It’s generally human nature to not ask for help. People are taught to do things themselves and so forth, but there’s nothing wrong with asking for help when it’s needed. I agree with you 100%.

  • JD

    Perhaps this impression wouldn’t be so strong if the LoCo council didn’t come across quite so… harsh.

    LoCo council meetings are consistently marked by dismissive, unconstructive, anglophone-centric critiquing of active LoCo groups. There is so little flexibility shown in what qualifies as a good LoCo group that many participants must come away with the impression that the effort they’ve put in is worthless.

    Sure the cursory “We’ll help you fix it if you want” is sometimes thrown in, but it’s mostly lost in the noise of rushing through a bunch of other approvals.

  • http://doctormo.org Martin Owens

    No.

    I disagree with the idea that the LoCo council’s job is to optimize teams. The LoCo council was designed to be arbitration which then got expanded into certification (of teams and members), then into tool setting (loco directory).

    Now we want to expand their remit into organization? tongue in cheek The last thing I want is Laura giving my LoCo a tongue lashing because it isn’t organized to her liking.

    I also don’t like the marginalisation of the loco-contacts community. I think more positive action can be taken by promoting active loco members into organisational inspiration and cheer-leading roles who’s job it would be to foster the loco contacts community as a valid community of people in it’s own right and not just a message board.

    Rather than give more work to a small set of people who already have a lot of work to do.

  • http://randall.executiv.es/ Randall

    Hi Jono,

    I applaud the outreach and clarification. At the same time, it’s not a stretch to decipher where the perception comes from.

    Looking at the focus of the LoCo council team over the past two cycles, the (publicly visible) actions seem to be around re-certification and activities that could be considered ‘gate-keeping’ and/or an enhancement of bureaucracy.

    It is refreshing to hear a shift in the tone. Perhaps we can come back to the bug report that IMHO still needs attention and community discussion: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu-community/+bug/497051

    Thanks and keep up the great work.

    Cheers, Randall.

  • jono

    Thanks for the feedback, Randall.

    I would like to have more visibility on these things you are mentioning – would you mind filling me in with some examples of this behavior? Feel free to mail me privately if needed.

    I just want to be clear on something too: if anyone has concerns about the conduct of a team council, you may want to raise it with the Community Council.

  • jono

    I believe it is the goal of all governance boards to ensure the welfare and health of the part of the community they govern. Great governance is not as simple as just mediating conflict and arbitration. It is also inspiring a community to be the best they can.

    Sure, the LoCo Council was formed in the spirit of handling the scale of the community growing and dealing with issues the Community Council was handling, but I strongly disagree that doesn’t mean we should encourage our councils to inspirational in their conduct and ethos.

    Also, if you have an issue with Laura, I would recommend you raise it with her directly. I am more than happy to help if you would like me to participate in that discussion.

  • http://www.penguintechservices.com Andrew Gaydon

    Hi Jono,

    I agree with the role that you describe about the LoCo councils purpose.

    However, I think that the council could take a more active role in helping LoCo’s overcome their conflicts. Instead of waiting to be be contacted.

    Yes Randall, that bug still needs addressing.

    Keep up the good work.

    Andrew

  • Martin Owens

    @jono, we will have to agree to disagree since I belive that having the same group that judges also set the criteria of sucess to be too fragile a system and resentment may be the result.

  • http://lczajkowski.com czajkowski

    Thanks Jono for taking the time to write this it’s been on my mind for a long time. We encourage teams to talk to us about how to organise events, where they are stuck, how to do things, also when things get a bit tricky we are there to help them over come things. We have done so in the past and in most cases this has been acknowledged and welcomed, in other cases and this is the bit that does worry us is that it’s negatively received by members of the team that someone went to us, which is rather unfortunate, anyone in a LoCo or not a LoCo can always ask us for help or run ideas by us. It’s what we’re here to do.

    With regards to some of the points raised above I don’t necessary agree nor disgaree with them, I’ve take some time to read and digest them. With that in mind I’ve a few thoughts on the matter.

    People do come to us for help, there are over 142 teams currently if they are having issues it’s hard for us to know about all of them unless some of the members are active and we hear about it possibly via IRC or mail, but without people telling us there is no way for us to resolve it.

    We have started to do the reapprovals which was set up now 2 cycles ago, this has proved very interesting and helpful as it helps us guide teams, give them tips, many come to us before their meeting asking for us to look over their re approval for guidance on what to put into it we get to chat and learn about the team and what they are doing. For those that end up being unapproved, either by team members wishes, or by lack of evidence of being an active team, yes it is sad, but it’s not unfixable nor should it deter people from kick starting it again at a later point when people have more time or people who can help out.

    Yes part of our remit is to approve and unapprove teams, but a lot of our work is done behind the scenes, following up on RT, helping people resolving issues some of which does happen in #ubuntu-locoteams and others of course has to happen off the main chanel.

    Each cycle we come up with new ideas, last cycle was the Guidelines and best practices which worked, and this cycle we do plan on writing more helpful guides and looking at how locos work with a possible view to breaking them down if possible in locations.

    Also to note: I am one member of the council there are 6 of us there elected to help !lococouncil lococouncil is The Loco Council is itnet7, czajkowski, paultag, huats, leogg, popey – they are there to help, just ask! :) You can send them an email at loco-council@lists.ubuntu.com

  • http://www.linuxsouls.com Chris Crisafulli

    After reading Jono’s blog, and all of the comments made, I honestly feel that there is a true misconception about the LoCo Council. Honestly, We do have the communities best interest at heart. There are a couple of basic requirements in order for teams to become or stay approved. So far we have only unapproved a small portion of the teams that have applied/re-applied, and for none of the aforementioned reasons. JD surely is entitled to his/her opinion, but I really hope that is not how we are being perceived by everyone.

    Please feel free to contact us if you need something. If you are working on your approval status and need some guidance, or want to kick around some ideas you have that may benefit our community as a whole… just drop us an e-mail or two and let us know.

    Thanks for your time,

    Chris Crisafulli itnet7/irc.freenode.net