[Owasp-leaders] OWASP Board, Rebooted

John Wilander john.wilander at owasp.org
Mon Jan 10 06:39:00 EST 2011

Jim, and all leaders,

Interesting thoughts, both from you and Elisa Warner's linked paper.

No matter what Warner or other researchers say we have the matter in our own
hands and need to figure out our own future and pick up good ideas where
they turn up. Being a computer nerd I've often been misunderstood and mocked
so I'm slightly skeptical to outside "truths" :). Maybe 80 % of what she
says is applicable to us, maybe 100 %.

I'd like to add a few things to the stew though. IMHO these things are also
in play regarding the OWASP Board:

   - *We "thank" people by electing them*. The most honorary position you
   can have within OWASP is to be our chair and after that be one of the few
   board members. Great people who have founded us, built some of our foremost
   assets, and stayed committed for many years are thanked by the community and
   awarded a board seat. Of course we also believe they'll do good on the board
   but there is an awarding part of the election too. If we restructure the
   board and its assignments we need to 1) find a new way of thanking these
   people with an official Hall of Fame or such, and 2) build and spread a new
   view on what the board is so we don't go back to awarding our heroes seats
   on the board.
   - *Changing a board member currently means dethroning him/her*. Right now
   we only have social pressure to step down (built up from these kind of
   discussions) and outright dethroning by the community. Both of those are
   very uncomfortable and you typically get strong conservative reactions from
   all those who feel bad sacking one of our community heroes. "I like X, let
   him stay!". A limit on number on consecutive years as board member would
   provide a graceful way of changing the members.
   - *Cultural differences are hard to parry if we don't acknowledge them*.
   Resources for fundraising are spread all over the world. So are
   OWASP committed and work-willing people. But when it comes to applying for a
   board position or as it's often put "step up", people from various cultures
   work very different. Just look at how differently we elect our political
   leaders (gosh, we don't even live in democracies all of us). In my limited
   view I'd say Americans are very used to "stepping up", the natively English
   speaking world has an easier time communicating with Americans so they are
   more likely to step up, other parts of Europe have very tight cultural ties
   to America so we sometimes manage to step up, and then the likelihood gets
   lower for South America, Asia, Middle East, and Africa. Within each cultural
   sphere you have other differences. For instance Asian cultures have much
   more of a master/apprentice structure and Scandinavian cultures have a
   negative attitude towards individuality and success (check Wikipedia for the
   "Jante Law"). If we truly want to maximize fundraising and community
   outreach our official representatives need to be much more global. And if we
   want a Global board we cannot keep asking people to "step up".

   Regards, John

John Wilander, https://twitter.com/johnwilander
Chapter co-leader OWASP Sweden, http://owaspsweden.blogspot.com
<http://owaspsweden.blogspot.com>Co-organizer Global Summit,
<http://www.owasp.org/index.php/Summit_2011>Conf Comm,
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