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Thursday, June 28, 2012

[DeltaAgileAustin]Agile Austin Membership Definition Vote June Feedback and Upcoming Vote!

As discussed, June was the month that we would discuss, as a community, the proposed change in Agile Austin membership from paying annual dues to meeting attendance, as a number of us believe that the latter signifies a greater dedication to the organization for the purposes of voting.

The least you need to know
The board of Agile Austin will be voting this evening on putting a vote to the members asking them to amend the charter so that membership definition will change from an annual subscription for a $30 fee to attendance at six Agile Austin meetings in a twelve-month timeframe.

If you’re interested in being part of the discussion at the Open Board Meeting, please join us this evening at 6:30 PM (let me know soon so we can order you some tacos):


I held two meetings this month on this subject.  These meetings were  in addition to the previous DeltaAgileAustin meetings that occurred earlier this year, as well as ongoing open Agile Austin board meetings, where this subject has been discussed in length.  Of these two meetings, there was only one participant besides me.  This participant was our Vice President, Walter Bodwell.  We came up with the following proposal, which we should feel free to discuss in this forum.  Any and all comments are welcome, especially in this discuss thread.

Point 1:  What is the value of membership—why should someone be a member?
·         Membership creates a benefit to elect the Board of Directors of Agile Austin, which is a 501I6 non-profit organization. 
·         Board meetings are currently only open to Agile Austin members (however, we would like to change this to be open to any participant and will vote on this at the next board meeting)
·         Historically, there have been training discounts only available to Agile Austin members.  However, this too could be discontinued as the vendors normally don’t care and would like to extend them to the entire community.  We will vote on this as well at the next board meeting as we cannot recall a specific member’s only discount being issued any time in the past twelve months.
·         Historically an annual membership came with a premium such as a coffee mug or T-Shirt.  We saw no reason to discontinue this with a change in membership definition. 

Point 2:  What would be the minimum number of meetings to attend in order to gain membership?
·         Reflecting what was discussed in previous DeltaAgileAustin meetings as well as what seemed to make sense, both Walter and I agreed that the number should be six.  This equates to one meeting every other month.  A meeting would be defined as any officially-sponsored Agile Austin meeting including, but not limited to monthly meetings, special interest groups (SIGs), workshops, dojo, community series, etc.  In the month of June, there were over 15 meetings, which is normal.  Attending six meetings in one year would equate to approximately going to 3% of the total meetings in a year.

Point 3:  What would be the language of the vote?  Do we want to make it specific, or allow the board to have broad scope in modifying the membership definition?
·         There are certain benefits to make the language of membership definition broad.  If we made it specific to a certain number per year, any modification would have to go back to the membership to make a change.  However, this is one of the most critical aspects of membership, so it may be better to leave it specific and require a vote each time it’s changed.
·         Ultimately, Walter and I agreed that we would make the vote specific as opposed to giving the board broad powers of definition.  Of course, we can always revisit this if it doesn’t work.

Point 4:  How will we count the number of times someone attends a meeting?
·         The main thing that we need to focus on is ease-of-use in this area for both the participants and the program leads.  We strongly desire to eliminate paperwork and challenging processes.
·         In order to count, the board will develop a “Roll Call” application that can be used quickly via cell phone to register for events.  There will always be a manual backup in case the Roll Call application is not available. 
·         Earlier this year, the Board voted to move the annual Board vote to June, so we’d need to calculate this on May 31, 2013 to send out the ballots.  We would also conduct a trial run on May 1st letting people know how many events they’ve attended and how many more they’ll need as of May 31st.

Point 5:  When do we stop charging/Current members?
·         All membership is valid for the period until such time as it expires.
·         Once we have the new membership process in place (member vote to change the charter and the Roll Call implemented), the paid membership will be discontinued.

Point 6:  What are the dependencies of this change?
·         We need to have Roll Call working before we call a vote of the membership so we can immediately implement it.  We will begin beta testing this in July at a variety of the SIGs.

Point 7:  How will people know whether they are a member or not?
·         They can ask—sending a message to
·         We would like to have an automated way for them to check
·         We would like to have an automated system send email when the member has reached membership status or is about to go off membership.  We might just do this as a simple rails app backed by a database so we could always have the information quickly and easily available for everyone.
·         We may be able to print special badges denoting members

Again, please let us know if you have any questions or comments.  I’ll also be available to discuss this after our next monthly meeting on July 10th.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Agile Leadership Lessons from Lao Tzu

I have been reading The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge as part of the Agile Austin Book Discussion Group, and one quote struck me as particularly meaningful from Lao Tzu:

The wicked leader is he whom the people revile.
The good leader is he whom the people revere.
The great leader is he of whom the people say, "We did it ourselves."

To me, the "great leader" succinctly describes what it means to be a servant-leader--what do you think?