Incubator Project & Working Group Characteristics and Process

Last modified by Patrick Masson on 2018.04.24 at 11:37:30 PDT

Unlocking Member Passions

OSI Operations and Development Model

Model Prior to June of 2013

While the OSI had historically created and managed "working groups" in order to investigate, and propose changes to policy, practices, and the organization, these were primarily driven by the affinity interests of particular directors. The norm at the time was that working groups were committees of the board, as mentioned in the bylaws and thus could not include non-directors, or had to be led actively by a director. Both of these characteristics limited the scope (number and variety of efforts) of what could be achieved.

  • Roles
    • 11-member volunteer board, responsible for executive level leadership, day to day operations, and development/management of initiatives.
    • All actions Board actions
  • Budgeting
    • Limited funding based solely on corporate sponsorships.
  • Outcomes
    • Maximum achievement limited by Board volunteer time

After June 2013

In the Spring of 2013, a new process sought to create input from the growing OSI Constituency (specifically as a result of the new membership programs for individuals and non-profits), as well as to transform the board into a directive rather than an activist body, where the personal priorities of Board Directors could be routed through, still associated but not Board-mandated, development practices. As a result the term "incubator" was identified to refer to a new activity, that might not be within the current practice or scope of responsibility for  the OSI, but would nevertheless contribute to the OSI mission. The label "working group" was reserved for activity related to OSI meta-business like hiring, finance, PR etc. and for input on existing or proposed policy, practices, or operations.

  • Roles
    • OSI Community: All those in which the OSI's Mission serves, users, adopters, developers, etc. of software carrying an OSI Approved Open Source Software License.
    • OSI Constituents: Individual Members, Affiliate Members and Corporate Sponsors" that provides, subject matter expertise and general support (including funding).
    • Individual Member: A person holding a current and valid OSI Membership.
    • Affiliate Member Representative: The primary contact for an OSI Affiliate Member organization.
    • Corporate Sponsor Liaison: The primary contact for an OSI Corporate Sponsor.
    • OSI Incubator Projects: project-oriented initiatives managed by OSI Constituents (Individual/Affiliate Members and or Corporate Sponsors) which furthers the OSI mandate through the development of non-code related artifacts.
    • OSI Working Groups: organizationally-oriented initiatives organized and managed by OSI Individual Members (only), to identify, assess, and/or update OSI policy, practices, and/or operations.
    • OSI Participants: Any person or organization involved in an OSI Incubator Project or Working Group.
    • OSI Board and OSI Staff ensure mission alignment and oversight of OSI Constituents' activity related to approved Incubator Projects and Working Groups to advance OSI mission and objectives, and serve the OSI Community.
      • Board of Directors
        • 10-member board elected by Constituents
          • 5 seats voted on by OSI Individual Members
          • 5 seats voted on by OSI Affiliates Members
        • 1 seat held by General Manager (ex officio)
      • Staff: individuals dedicated to specific tasks in support of the OSI, or specific Incubator Projects and/or Working Groups. Staff may be salary-based or contract-based (part-time/full-time)
    • OSI Sponsor: An OSI Board Director.
  • Budgeting (Funding for Incubator Projects and Working Groups subject to the availability of general funding, or targeting contributions from the OSI Community).
    • General organizational funding:
      • Individual Memberships - Given by individuals who join the OSI through the OSI Membership program. The annual membership fee as of 2018 is $40 (USD).
      • Donations - Given by individuals or organizations (individuals, businesses, non-profits, etc.). These amounts vary based on the wishes of the contributor.
      • Corporate Sponsorships - Given by for-profit companies based on annual corporate revenue.
    • Targeted gifts:
      • One-time Contribution - Given by any Constituent member to support an Incubator Project or Working Group
  • Outcomes
    • Maximum achievement of OSI Working Groups limited by constituent vision, strategy, commitment, and available resources.

Incubator Projects &  Working Groups: A Channel For Supporter Passions

OSI Mission: " educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community."

  • OSI Incubator Projects may be proposed for any activity that advances the OSI mission.
  • OSI Working Groups may be proposed for any activity that improves the delivery of the OSI mission.
  • OSI Constituents involved in OSI Working Groups are "OSI Participants"
    • OSI Incubator Projects must be chaired by an OSI Member. All Incubator Project Participants must have an official affiliation with the OSI (member or sponsor).
    • OSI Working Groups must be chaired by an OSI Member. Working Group Participants are comprised of OSI members (Individual or Affiliate) only.
  • Incubator Projects are:
    • Board-chartered,
    • deliverable-focused, and
    • time-bounded
  • Working Groups are:
    • Board-chartered,
    • goal-oriented, and
    • may be ongoing.
  • Life-cycle:
    • Propose
    • Charter
    • Deliver
    • Sustainability Plan
    • End-of-Project Transition

Anything in an OSI Incubator Project or Working Group Charter that conflicts with requirements of the Bylaws of the Open Source Initiative is void.

Anything in an OSI Incubator Project or Working Group Charter that conflicts with the parameters of this guideline on OSI Working Group Characteristics and Process must be ratified by the OSI Board.

General Approach

In support of reusing what works, and within the context of the OSI's own mandate, we generally model the OSI Incubator Project and Working Group structure and governance upon the business patterns outlined in section 6 of the World Wide Web Consortium Process Document. (Here is a useful example.)

Incubator Project & Working Group Charter Proposal Requirements

  • ONLY OSI Individual Members may put forward a proposal for an Incubator Project.
  • Any OSI Constituent or Board Director may put forward a proposal for a Working Group
  • Proposals to the OSI via the OSI Contact Form.
  • Your feedback on this structure and process is welcome. Please contact the OSI General Manager 

The Initial Charter Proposal (see template) must include:

  • Start date
  • Initial Participants
    • Name of Chair(s)
    • Name of OSI Board Sponsor(s)
    • OSI General Manager
    • Other participants
  • Resources needed by project/group (mailing list, virtual server, budget, etc)
  • For Incubator Projects
    • Deliverable(s) that will be created
    • Description of how that deliverable satisfies a part of OSI's mission
  • For Working Groups
    • Issue(s) to be addressed.
    • Alignment with, and relevance to current or deficient policies and/or practices.
  • Target completion date

A full Charter must also include

  • Sustainability Plan
    • OSI staff responsibilities?
    • OSI infrastructure needs?
    • Impact on on constituency and on community?
    • If ongoing costs involved, how they are met?
    • A Incubator Project deliverable approved by the OSI Board will be sustained by an external organization.
    • A Working Group outcome accepted by the OSI Board will be sustained by OSI.
  • End-of-Project Transition
    • Communications with Project/Group Participants.
    • Suitable disposition of Project/Group artifacts, i.e. files, records, websites, URLs, etc.

Decisions to Initiate, Approve and Amend an Incubator Project or Working Group Charter

  • To initiate an Incubator Project or Working Group, the OSI Board
    • Reviews proposal
    • Determines viability, bona fides and mission match
    • Initiate and give tentative approval to a preliminary Working Group Charter, under version number 0.XX, which is sufficient for the Working Group to commence activities.  
  • Within 3 months of initiation a Working Group is expected to maintain a minimum of 5 participants during its active life. 
  • Am Incubator Project  Working Group must have at least 5 Participants approve to change its Charter (e.g. goals, scope, deliverables). This requires a 2/3 majority of votes cast (more than 66%), followed by ratification by the OSI Board. 
  • The Incubator Project or Working Group may make minor corrections to the charter (e.g. deliverable dates, list of dependences and liaisons) via the 3-layer decision process described below without the amendment process.
  • The incubator Project or Working Group must post their proposal and membership to the OSI wiki under the projects space within 3 months of the preliminary Working Group Charter, 0.XX.

OSI Working Group Decision Process

The OSI's Incubator Project and Working Group Decision Process draws upon approaches used by [ W3C], [ IETF], and similar communities.

Choosing a Chair

  • A Chair's duties include:
    • Driving inclusiveness, identifying consensus within the project/group, and recording decisions.
    • Ensuring compliance with all OSI rules applicable to the project/group.
    • Being a liaison between the project/group and all projects/groups with which the project/group is coordinating.
    • Organizing the smooth operation of the project/group.
    • Engaging with current and potential partners and media, performing outreach, and ensuring the transparent operation of the project/group.
  • Chairs for Incubator Projects must be current Individual Members of the OSI and are elected by the project's Participants for a 2 year term. There may be up to two Chairs at any given time. There are no limits to how often chairs can be re-elected by the project Participants.
  • Chairs for Working Groups may be any current Individual Member, Affiliate Member Representative, or Corporate Sponsor Liaison of the OSI, and are elected by the group's Participants for a 2 year term. There may be up to two Chairs at any given time. There are no limits to how often chairs can be re-elected by the project Participants.
  • For an Participant to run for election, they must be nominated by at least 2 people (other than themselves or an acting chair) and agree to the nomination. The nomination period lasts 14 days. Once an election date is set, each candidate has one week to submit a position statement about their qualifications to chair the group. The voting poll will stay open for a minimum of 14 days and the candidate with the most votes wins. If there is only one candidate at the end of the 14 day nomination period, that person immediately becomes the chair.
  • Chairs may be removed from their duties through a simple no-confidence vote, following the “Formal Vote” provisions below.  A Chair who has been removed may stand for re-election.

Decision Processes

OSI Incubator Project and Working Groups must conduct their work transparently, e.g. on a public email list that is archived online, though a wiki or other publicly accessible web-based platform, supplemented by various face-to-face, online chat or teleconference discussions.  The decision making processes within the terms of an Incubator Project or Working Group Charter may advance through three levels, and a decision is accepted as soon as it meets the requirements of any one of the levels, in the sequence described below. Decisions to initiate, approve or amend an Incubator Project or Working Group Charter are handled separately (below).

Three Levels of Decision Under a Charter

  1. Working Consensus:  Routine decisions can be made via discussion on the email list, face-to-face, online chat or teleconference via straw polls with all either “in favour" or "abstained", but no Participants are "opposed". Decisions reached in non-archived venues must be confirmed on the email list. If working consensus cannot be reached, then proceed to the second level.
  2. Chair Decision:  The Chair will propose that the matter be discussed further via the email list, face-to-face, online chat or teleconference. When the Participants discuss an issue and there is a request from a Participant to formally assess consensus, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should ask for votes, and record a decision together with any objections (with reasons if these have been expressed). If at least 3 Participants agree to take the matter to a formal general vote, then proceed to the third level.
  3. Formal Vote: If all efforts to achieve working consensus thus far have failed and yet at least 3 Participants consider that a determination must be made within limited time, the project/group may sets aside "working consensus" on an specific written issue, to initiate a simple majority vote. (This includes if they feel the Chair has not accurately determined the votes of the project/group or if they feel the Chair has refused to assess consensus.) Only Participants of the Incubator Project or Working Group prior to the initial call for a formal vote may participate in the vote. Within 7 days of such a request, the Chair must announce the start and end dates, and the venue for the vote. Such a vote must be open at least 7 days and should be no more than 14 days, using a structured online voting solution, ensuring that no member votes more than once. In these cases, a decision shall be based on a simple majority of the votes cast (more than 50%). 

The Chair is accountable to both the OSI Board and to Working Group participants to ensure that all deliberation and decision processes are fair, respectful, aligned with these guidelines, and neither favouring or discriminating against any participant or their associates (incl. employer).

Incubator Project Deliverables and Working Group Outcomes

  • Incubator Project Deliverables
    • Collectively creates/advances deliverable.
    • Presents deliverable to OSI Board by end date.
      • OSI Board will choose to accept or reject deliverable.
    • Includes sustaining/archiving plan.
  • Working Group
    • Collectively creates/advances policy/practice.
    • Presents policy/practice to Board by end date.
      • OSI Board will choose to accept or reject policy/practice.
    • Includes sustaining/archiving plan.
  • OSI Board
    • Reviews new deliverable or policy/practice.
    • Determines if deliverable or policy/practice requires revision prior to adoption as an OSI asset.
    • Rejects or approves the deliverable or policy/practice as an OSI asset.
Created by Patrick Masson on 2014.01.07 at 07:32:34 PST

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