3 minutes reading time (628 words)

A lighter structure for Open Source Matters, Inc.


Back in 2017, Open Source Matters, Inc. changed completely its governance structure, after a long transition phase and merging the "three-heads" that governed the project in the past. 

The previous leadership

Prior to the transition to the new structure, the Joomla Project was governed by three bodies: PLT, CLT and OSM.

PLT was the "Production Leadership Team" and was meant to govern the "Product", so all the aspects and teams related to software, its development, maintenance, test and so on.

CLT was the "Community Leadership Team" and was meant to govern the "People", so all the aspects and teams related to the community, recruiting, engagement, events, outreach and so on.

OSM standed for "Open Source Matters" and was the legal entity, the not-for-profit organization behind the project who took care of all the legal and financial aspects: trademark, sponsorships, budgets and so on.

In the last years of this structure several issues emerged, including overlap of function and responsibilities and endless discussions on who had the "authority" over the project, which of the "three heads" was the most powerful and other aspects that triggered a very long discussion around a deep reform of the governance structure.

The need of a new structure

This brought many people together working on a restructural plan in which the whole governance system has been examinated and reconsidered. At the end, after several proposals, adjustments and votes by the Community, the new system has been finally deployed in early 2017, with the Transition Team (created for the purpose) championing the first election round with the new methodology.

The major changes were:

  • merging the leadership in only one body
  • transforming the organization into a membership corporation
  • identifying three class of membership
  • creating 6 departments and assigning teams to them based on their activity
  • creating a Board of Directors with representative of all the departments plus the 4 Officers.

This new structure brought a lot of improvements and tried to break some "silos" between teams.

Continuous changes

Since 2017, many changes occurred, like the transition to a flat voting system that gives one vote to each member of the organization. Another change has been moving to self-nomination procedure, in which the candidate for a Board position shall nominate themselves and propose a Manifesto / Plan of activities / Vision.

An oversized organization

Currently, Open Source Matters has a complex and well structured organization chart, designed taking into account the "size" of the organization at the time in which the new leadership structure was in discussion phase. At that time, OSM had roughly 200 members.

Over the time and for several reasons, the membership base shrunk, so the structure in place could result a bit overcomplicated / oversized. 

The membership base at the latest officer elections held during the summer of 2021 counted only 87 members.

Also, there are departments that host just one or two official teams, making the leadership a bit unbalanced.

The proposal

A proposal is currently in the discussion phase either within the Board and the Community itself.

Such proposal aims to resize the Board and the organization by merging 2 Departments and moving some of the teams in the most appropriate Department.

The proposed structure would have 4 Departments (instead of the current 6), the Board would have 8 members (4 Officers + 4 Directors) instead of 10. 

The full proposal is available in the Discussion repository in which is receiving feedback and suggestions by the Community.

Once there is a general consensus, the proposal will go through the Bylaws amendment path, with a dedicated Special Members Meeting and the related Members motion to accept the changes.

If you have any comment, proposal, feedback or suggestions on such proposal, please feel free to post on the discussion repository.

Read the full proposal

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