Leadership Interviews: Robert Deutz
Robert Deutz has been involved in the community for a long time, mostly in Production roles. He decided to run for president after a failed election, thinking it was a good idea to have someone relatively ‘fresh’ on the OSM board. In this interview done just a few days after he took up the role, we try to know a bit more about him and his ideas for Joomla.
Thanks, Robert, for joining us in this interview. Could you tell us a little more about yourself?
I was born in Aachen, Germany and still live there. I have studied electrotechnics, and I am working as a developer in my own company. So Joomla! is my daily business. Besides my own company, together with David and Lukas Jardin, I founded BackupMonkey, a Software as a Service, to support other companies managing Joomla Websites. We have built a dashboard to manage Joomla installations, and our unique feature is that we can test if Backups are working.
When I am not at my desk, I try to get some fresh air, ride my bike and meet friends.
Why did you decide to run for President?
I thought it would be a good idea to have someone who was not involved in the recent events. We need to rebuild trust in OSM and in the Joomla Leadership. I have been involved long enough and have good connections; I think these are good conditions for a restart.
How will you use your presidency to move Joomla forward, and what do you want to achieve by the end of your term? And in the long run?
Like everywhere in Joomla, you need help. You can't do things on your own. I am more a person who is good at building teams, giving the team a good start and letting the team do the work.
I can not give a list of things, but I am sure when I let someone else take over, the situation will be much better as it is now.
What is your first goal as President?
I think it is evident that we need to solve the problem with the financial investigation we are in and bring the ship back on track. Joomla 4 has been released, and this is what we all should have the focus on. I don't want to have Joomla in an extended lawsuit with little to no chance to get something back at the end.
How can we all help you in achieving this goal?
Give OSM a little bit of time; I want to share information as soon as possible with the community about how we want to go forward. But most importantly, work with the new release of Joomla 4, help to improve it and let us make it the best Joomla ever.
What do you love most about Joomla?
That's easy: the community. I like to meet people and work as a team for a common goal. Joomla is big, and it is a lot of fun to work on something so widely used.
In your manifesto, you wrote about “Hippie or big business”: the paradox of Joomla as a volunteer organisation while people are making money out of it. You suggested companies offer to lend people to the project. Could you elaborate on that idea?
It is not a new idea; we tried this in the past. The challenge is in the management of the time companies will spend. It would help a lot when a company gives their employees a fixed time in the week or month to work within the community. What we need is to offer a way for the time to be used in a good and effective manner.
I think companies would be open to this idea if they are sure that the time is well used, and the employees also get something back.
So what we have to solve is the management problem. This will also need a mind shift in the leadership. Our leadership is too much involved in the daily business instead of building and leading teams.
You also emphasised local communities. Why are they so important, and what can we do to make them flourish?
We all know that there is not a long line before the door with people who want to spend time working on Joomla. If we have a larger active community, people will join the global community. We have seen this in the past: when the local community was healthy and well organised, we had more people from the local community working in the global community working.
What we need is help for people in local communities to organise meetings or other things. Sometimes they only need a little money to start; sometimes, they just need ideas. We have to go out to the people and help them. It will take time, but I genuinely believe we need to start and even if it is not easy, not doing it is not an option.
We’ve had our struggles over the last year(s). How can we look forward when there is so much to look back at?
Looking back makes only sense when there is something to learn for the future. It doesn't make sense to me to spend too much time washing dirty laundry. We all make mistakes, and I expect people to be critical of what they did. Just pointing fingers at others is too easy.
Is there anything we forgot to ask but should have asked you?
Maybe a lot. There is one thing I want to make clear. I have the feeling that people expect a lot from the president. In our organisation the president doesn’t have that much power; I can't tell people what and how they have to do their job. I can only try to convince people of what I believe is right. So it will take time and discussions to move forward.
I would like to invite everyone to join me to work on some ideas and bring Joomla forward.