The Joomla! Community Magazine™

Lessons about openness and transparency from a budget discussion

Written by | Sunday, 01 May 2011 00:00 | Published in 2011 May
Last month, the 2011 Joomla! draft budget was published and community feedback on it was invited. I believe this was the first time that community feedback was invited before our project's budget was formally approved.
Lessons about openness and transparency from a budget discussion illustration by: Yepr

To be honest, I really didn't expect too much interest from the community about our project's draft budget. I was sure wrong about that though, because a total of 63 posts were made in a lively discussion about the budget on the Joomla! People website.

As the posts came in, some included general questions or comments, while others were direct and specific. Some of the posts were complimentary, and others were critical. Some asked for clarification about processes, and others offered suggestions about new processes. During the course of the discussion, seven different leadership team members came forward and responded to the questions and comments posted by community members.

This discussion about the budget revealed some important lessons about openness and transparency in our project. Openness and transparency isn't always comfortable or convenient or fun. It involves extra time and effort for volunteer leadership team members. It also means taking a risk by exposing plans and actions to the scrutiny of our global community.

But openness and transparency come with important benefits. They help insure that Joomla! leadership team members and Open Source Matters board members are accountable. Accountability is important in all organizations, but especially in a community driven project such as ours. When openness and transparency also include a respectful dialog between leadership and the community, doors begin to open and good things happen. Community members not only feel more informed about how the project works, but they also feel more involved in the process and they are more likely to want to contribute. New ideas, perspectives, and suggestions can be considered from those who are most interested and knowledgeable about different aspects of the project. Ultimately, more trust can be built between project leadership and the community. This message was given over and over again by many contributors to the discussion about the budget.

The final approved budget will be published soon, along with goals from each of the Joomla! project's three leadership teams (I believe that publishing goals from all leadership teams represents another first for the project). And based on feedback from the community, multiple improvements will be made to the planning and budget process for next year, and work is also underway now on new and improved processes to increase our project's financial openness and transparency.

Starting today, the Joomla! Community Magazine team is also making a stronger commitment to increased openness and transparency. We have had a private team email list as a primary communications channel since before the JCM launched last July. But partly due to seeing the positive outcomes from the recent public budget discussion, the JCM team voted to change our email list to be public (read only). Please check out the public (read only) JCM team email list if you are interested in following our team's discussions.

Openness and transparency are not always easy concepts to put into practice, but they are definitely important to strengthening our community. And when we strengthen our community, we strengthen our project.

In this issue:

A special thanks to the members of our Joomla! community who contributed articles to this month's issue: Merav Knafo, Anh Tuan Bui, Paul de Raaij, Abolhassan Firoozmandan, and Meta Krujis!

Feature stories

International stories

Website Case Studies

Leadership Connections

JUGs and Events

Developers Workbench

Designer's studio

The Joomla! Haikus

Joomla! Books

Joomla! in the Press/Media

On the lighter side...

In our next issue

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Paul Orwig

Paul Orwig

Paul is a freelance web solutions provider based in Parker, Colorado, USA. He is the President of the board of directors for Open Source Matters, a former member of the Joomla! Community Leadership Team, a former Webmaster for the Joomla! community portal, and he was the founding Lead Editor for the Joomla! Community Magazine.