Changes with the Drupal Association

The Drupal community is very special because of its culture of adapting to change, determination and passion, but also its fun and friendship. It is a combination that is hard to come by, even in the Open Source world. Our culture enabled us to work through really long, but ground-breaking release cycles, which also prompted us to celebrate the release of Drupal 8 with 240 parties around the world.

Throughout Drupal's 15 years history, that culture has served us really well. As the larger industry around us continues to change -- see my DrupalCon New Orleans keynote for recent examples -- we have been able to evolve Drupal accordingly. Drupal has not only survived massive changes in our industry; it has also helped drive them. Very few open source projects are 15 years old and continue to gain momentum.

Drupal 8 is creating new kinds of opportunities for Drupal. For example, who could have imagined that Lufthansa would be using Drupal 8 to build its next-generation in-flight entertainment system? Drupal 8 changes the kind of end-user experiences people can build, how we think about Drupal, and what kind of people we'll attract to our community. I firmly believe that these changes are positive for Drupal, increase Drupal's impact on the world, and grow the opportunity for our commercial ecosystem.

To seize the big opportunity ahead of us and to adjust to the changing environment, it was the Drupal Association's turn to adapt and carefully realign the Drupal Association's strategic focus.

The last couple of years the Drupal Association invested heavily in Drupal.org to support the development and the release of Drupal 8. Now Drupal 8 is released, the Drupal Association's Board of Directors made the strategic decision to shift some focus from the "contribution journey" to the "evaluator's adoption journey" -- without compromising our ability to build and maintain the Drupal software. The Drupal Association will reduce its efforts on Drupal.org's collaboration tools and expand its efforts to grow Drupal's adoption and to build a larger ecosystem of technology partners.

We believe this is not only the right strategic focus at this point in Drupal 8's lifecycle, but also a necessary decision. While the Drupal Association's revenues continued to grow at a healthy pace, we invested heavily, and exhausted our available reserves supporting the Drupal 8 release. As a result, we have to right-size the organization, balance our income with our expenses, and focus on rebuilding our reserves.

In a blog post today, we provide more details on why we made these decisions and how we will continue to build a healthy long-term organization. The changes we made today help ensure that Drupal will gain momentum for decades to come. We could not make this community what it is without the participation of each and every one of you. Thanks for your support!

Megan Sanicki to become Executive Director at the Drupal Association

This is a time of transition for the Drupal Association. As you might have read on the Drupal Association blog, Holly Ross, our Executive Director, is moving on. Megan Sanicki, who has been with the Drupal Association for almost 6 years, and was working alongside Holly as the Drupal Association's COO, will take over Holly's role as the Executive Director.

Open source stewardship is not easy but in the 3 years Holly was leading the Drupal Association, she lead with passion, determination and transparency. She operationalized the Drupal Association and built a team that truly embraces its mission to serve the community, growing that team by over 50% over three years of her tenure. She established a relationship with the community that wasn't there before, allowing the Drupal Association to help in new ways like supporting the Drupal 8 launch, providing test infrastructure, implementing the Drupal contribution credit system, and more. Holly also matured our DrupalCon, expanding its reach to more users with conferences in Latin America and India. She also executed the Drupal 8 Accelerate Fund, which allowed direct funding of key contributors to help lead Drupal 8 to a successful release.

Holly did a lot for Drupal. She touched all of us in the Drupal community. She helped us become better and work closer together. It is sad to see her leave, but I'm confident she'll find success in future endeavors. Thanks, Holly!

Megan, the Drupal Association staff and the Board of Directors are committed to supporting the Drupal project. In this time of transition, we are focused on the work that Drupal Association must do and looking at how to do that in a sustainable way so we can support the project for many years to come.

Growing Drupal in Latin America

When I visited Brazil in 2011, I was so impressed by the Latin American Drupal community and how active and passionate the people are. The region is fun and beautiful, with some of the most amazing sites I have seen anywhere in the world. It also happens to be a strategic region for the project.

Latin American community members are doing their part to grow the project and the Drupal community. In 2014, the region hosted 19 Global Training Day events to recruit newcomers, and community leaders coordinated many Drupal camps to help convert those new Drupal users into skilled talent. Members of the Latin American community help promote Drupal at local technology and Open Source events, visiting events like FISL (7,000+ participants), Consegi (5,000+ participants) and Latinoware (4,500+ participants).

You can see the results of all the hard work in the growth of the Latin American Drupal business ecosystem. The region has a huge number of talented developers working at agencies large and small. When they aren't creating great Drupal websites like the one for the Rio 2016 Olympics, they are contributing code back to the project. For example, during our recent Global Sprint Weekend, communities in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua participated and made valuable contributions.

The community has also been instrumental in translation efforts. On localize.drupal.org, the top translation is Spanish with 500 contributors, and a significant portion of those contributors come from the Latin America region. Community members are also investing time and energy translating Drupal educational videos, conducting camps in Spanish, and even publishing a Drupal magazine in Spanish. All of these efforts lower the barrier to entry for Spanish speakers, which is incredibly important because Spanish is one of the top spoken languages in the world. While the official language of the Drupal project is English, there can be a language divide for newcomers who primarily speak other languages.

Last but not least, I am excited that we are bringing DrupalCon to Latin America next week. This is the fruit of many hours spent by passionate volunteers in the Latin American local communities, working together with the Drupal Association to figure out how to make a DrupalCon happen in this part of the world. At every DrupalCon we have had so far, we have seen an increase in energy for the project and a bump in engagement. Come for the software, stay for the community! Hasta pronto!

Attitude beats experience

The older I get, the quicker the years seem to fly by. As I begin to reflect on a great 2014, one thing is crystal clear again. People are the most important thing to any organization. Having a great team is more important than having a great idea. A good team will figure out how to make something great happen; they'll pivot, evolve and claw their way to success. I see it every day at Acquia, the Drupal Association or the Drupal community. I'm fortunate to be surrounded by so many great people.

By extension, recruiting is serious business. How do you figure out if someone is a great fit for your organization? Books have been written about finding and attracting the right people, but for me the following quote from Dee Hock, the founder of Visa, sums it up perfectly.

"Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least, experience. Without integrity, motivation is dangerous; without motivation, capacity is impotent; without capacity, understanding is limited; without understanding, knowledge is meaningless; without knowledge, experience is blind." — Dee Hock, founder of Visa.

Most hiring managers get it wrong and focus primarily on experience. While experience can be important, attitude is much more important. Attitude, not experience, is what creates a strong positive culture and what turns users and customers into raving fans.

Announcing the Drupal 8 Accelerate Fund

Today the Drupal Association announced a new program: the Drupal 8 Accelerate Fund. Drupal 8 Accelerate Fund is a $125,000 USD fund to help solve critical issues and accelerate the release of Drupal 8.

The Drupal Association is guaranteeing the funds and will try to raise more from individual members and organizations within the Drupal community. It is the Drupal 8 branch maintainers — Nathaniel Catchpole, Alex Pott, Angie Byron, and myself — who will decide on how the money is spent. The fund provides for both "top-down" (directed by the Drupal 8 branch maintainers) and "bottom-up" (requested by other community members) style grants. The money will be used on things that positively impact the Drupal 8 release date, such as hiring contributors to fix critical bugs, sponsoring code sprints to fix specific issues, and other community proposals.

Since the restructuring of the Drupal Association, I have encouraged the Drupal Association staff and Board of Directors to grow into our ambitious mission; to unite a global open source community to build and promote Drupal. I've also written and talked about the fact that scaling Open Source communities is really hard. The Drupal 8 Accelerate Fund is an experiment with crowdsourcing as a means to help scale our community which is unique compared to other efforts because it is backed by the official non-profit organization that fosters and supports Drupal.

I feel that the establishment of this fund is an important step towards more sustainable core development. My hope is that if this round of funding is successful that this can grow over time to levels that could make an even more meaningful impact on core, particularly if we complement this with other approaches and steps, such as organization credit on Drupal.org.

This is also an opportunity for Drupal companies to give back to Drupal 8 development. The Drupal Association board is challenging itself to raise $62,500 USD (half of the total amount) to support this program. If you are an organization who can help support this challenge, please let us know. If you're a community member with a great idea on how we might be able to spend this money to help accelerate Drupal 8, you can apply for a grant today.

About today’s Drupal Association Board resignation

Today Morten Birch Heide-Jørgensen stepped down from his role on the Drupal Association's Board of Directors. The Drupal Association's Board of Directors supports Morten’s decision. The Drupal Association and the Drupal community value inclusivity and diversity, and our leadership must demonstrate those values as well.

We want to thank Morten for his service; he came to the board with a mission to foster improved transparency and communication. He helped both the board and staff embrace those principles in a way that will carry into the future.

Today’s development underscores the need for a broader discussion that we need to have about inclusivity and diversity. Creating and maintaining the right culture and environment is vital to Drupal's success. Therefore, we have asked the Community Working Group to define a process to help our community address these issues and identify positive, proactive, and concrete steps we can take to ensure that everyone feels welcome in Drupal.

Morten is vacating a community elected seat. The Board of Directors will discuss how and when to fill this vacancy at the next board meeting.

Respectfully,

Drupal Association Board of Directors

Creating a structure for Drupal governance

Last summer, a number of Drupal community members as well as key figures from other major open source projects met in Portland for the first-ever Drupal governance sprint. The proposal from that sprint recommended the creation of a number of chartered "working groups" to better formalize the existing governance of various aspects of the Drupal project, now that our community is at its current scale. We have now chartered the first of these working groups: the Community Working Group. Thanks very much to everyone who participated in the vigorous community discussion and drafting efforts around this.

However, while the governance proposal coming out of Portland provided some fairly solid direction on the governance of the Drupal project itself, it left some pretty big questions unanswered as it related to the governance of Drupal.org. Drupal.org isn't just some ordinary website. While it was originally a small portal with a few hundred members hosted on a friend's shared server, it is now serving millions of page views to over 2 million unique visitors per month, as well as terabytes of data, and is home to almost a million active members, among them thousands of contributors committing code, reviewing patches, improving documentation, etc. at all hours of the day. The old "do-ocracy" model of getting things done on Drupal.org isn't scaling for our community anymore, and lack of clarity around decision-making has cost us repeatedly, in the form of slow progress on the Drupal.org Drupal 7 upgrade, Drupal Association funding challenges and staff inefficiency, and various community volunteer frustrations.

I've therefore spent time over the past few months talking with a number of members of the Drupal Association, various Drupal.org volunteers, Drupal core/contrib developers, as well as other interested parties, in order to determine how to put into place a structure that clarifies the decision-making processes around Drupal.org. The following is the overall proposal for Drupal.org governance we've come up with, as well as links to more specific draft charters for community review.

Overview

Note: the finer points of this can be found in http://buytaert.net/files/drupal-governance-plan-2013.pdf.

While "governance" can sometimes sound like a scary word, really it's about coming up with a way to:

  • Make decisions fast,
  • In as lightweight a way as possible
  • Allowing affected parties to have a say,
  • With clearly-defined processes and easy to understand decision-making.

Cracking this problem for Drupal.org provides us with less frustration/uncertainty among volunteers, more money and resources funneled into improvements, and better community velocity overall.

Governance mostly comes down to establishing "working groups" around major areas of the project, many of which already have governance in at least an ad-hoc basis. Working groups will consist of a chair, plus 3-5 members who are empowered to make decisions, then a team of N volunteers and/or DA staff to help carry out their tasks/policies. The working groups are only empowered to make decisions as a whole, not on an individual basis.

Drupal project governance / Drupal.org governance compared

For the Drupal project, we are working towards developing a number of working groups related to various aspects of the community (security, documentation, conflict resolution, Drupal core, etc.), with myself as the final decision-maker:

Drupal project governance

The working groups might be compared/contrasted this way:

Community working group Technical working group Security team Documentation team Drupal core X working group
Guarantee a friendly and welcoming community for the Drupal project by upholding the Drupal Code of Conduct. Maintain technical policies, procedures, and standards as required to keep the technical side of our community operating smoothly. Maintain technical policies, procedures, and standards as required to keep our projects secure Make sure that we have high quality technical documentation for Drupal, including the Drupal handbook and API documentation Provide technical leadership and project management for Drupal core development.

In the case of Drupal.org, however, it makes sense for this final decision-maker to be the Drupal Association, since they are ultimately responsible for the website, purchasing hardware, etc.

Drupal website governance

The working groups might be compared/contrasted this way:

Drupal.org infrastructure working group Drupal.org software working group Drupal.org content working group
Responsible for all infrastructure-related needs of the Drupal project, including the servers, Git repositories, mailing lists, DNS management, e-mail management, network, server access and security. Responsible for guiding the planning, architecture, development, and maintenance of the Drupal.org websites. Responsible for maintaining policies around the major content areas on Drupal.org. They also manage the overall look and feel and voice of the website, including its information architecture and design elements.

This means that the existing webmasters group members can choose to participate in either the Drupal.org software working group or Drupal.org content working group, or both.

Needless to say, groups will often have to work together. For example, to answer the question of whether to keep developing project module or move our collaboration tools to Github, we'll have to get the following groups together: (i) the Drupal.org software working group because it affects the features of drupal.org, (ii) the Drupal.org hardware working group because they may need to host new features, (iii) the technical Working Group because it impacts how we collaborate on software development, and (iv) the Drupal Association Board of Directors because they have to write the check.

Draft charters for review

This is a work in progress. Please help shape the future of Drupal.org governance by reviewing and commenting on the following proposals:

Our plan is to allow everyone in the community to provide feedback during the next 3 weeks. Then, around the end of March I will post updated drafts based on community feedback, with the aim to finalize the charters by the mid-April.

Onward and upward

I'm really excited about the possibilities for Drupal.org in the future with this governance structure. My hope is that this helps address some of the ambiguity and confusion around the current structure, while at the same time not being overly constrictive.

Thanks in advance to everyone for their participation in helping to shape the future of Drupal.org!

Thank you Jacob!

Today is bittersweet for the Drupal Association, as Jacob Redding has transitioned the Executive Director role to Holly Ross. Jacob did a phenomenal job growing the Drupal Association, Drupal.org and Drupal as a whole. Jacob’s special attention to the community has helped create a culture that many of us are proud to be a part of; his passion and dedication for Drupal has always been evident.

Under Jacob’s leadership we have broadened our activities, streamlined operations and significantly increased revenues. The Drupal community members grew by 1143% to 800,000 and we gained 3286% more committers to 23,000 in just three years. That said, our DrupalCon sizes and attendance expanded, which has helped increase Drupal adoption throughout the world. The Drupal Association staff of 12 has settled into Portland and is well positioned in Oregon's active open source community.

With Holly onboard, our vision remains to become the largest open source, non-profit organization that continually increases its support to the community and project. Jacob, thank you for all your hard work and tenacity! I look forward to continuing to work with you in the community.

Holly Ross to join Drupal Association as Executive Director

I'm pleased to announce that the Drupal Association's Board of Directors has appointed Holly Ross as its new Executive Director. Holly is a well-known visionary leader in the nonprofit technology community with a proven track record of developing and implementing organizational strategies that provide direct community benefit.

Most recently, Holly was responsible for NTEN, the Nonprofit Technology Network, which works to help nonprofits use technology to create the change that they want to see in the world. During Holly’s ten years at NTEN, she helped grow the community from just a handful of individuals to over 60,000 people. NTEN has also been using Drupal for the last six years, so she is no stranger to our community.

Holly shared her excitement with the Drupal Association Board of Directors about her new role, saying, “I am thrilled to be making this move, which allows me to capitalize on my experience building community and embrace the added challenge of helping this international community collaborate on the Drupal project. I can’t wait to get started and be a part of a group of colleagues who share the values and passion for technology that I do.”

We are fortunate to have someone like Holly step up to lead the Drupal Association. Holly will start on February 1st, 2013. Like the rest of the Board of Directors, I look forward to working with Holly to grow the Drupal Association and to support the Drupal project.

Holly succeeds outgoing Co-Managing Director Jacob Redding and interim Managing Director Megan Sanicki, who both led the Drupal Association during the search process and have prepared it for new leadership over the last few months. The Board and the entire Drupal Association thanks Jacob for his hard work and dedication over the last several years. He has architected a strong foundation for the Drupal Association that allows Holly to take the organization to the next level. We wish Jacob best of luck with his new ventures. We are excited to have Megan continue with the Drupal Association as Chief Operating Officer, focused on Operations and Business Development.

Holly is looking forward to connecting with our community, and you should feel free to reach out to her with your feedback and ideas at holly@association.drupal.org.

Update on Drupal Association Executive Director search

In June, Jacob Redding, our Executive Director at the Drupal Association, decided that it was time for him to transition out of the Executive Director role to pursue new challenges. Hence, the Drupal Association Board of Directors started a search for a new Executive Director. We have had some very promising conversations, which we feel will lead to a strong placement that will strengthen and grow the Drupal Association and the community.

The Board understands the importance of the Executive Director search and is conducting it with diligence and thoroughness. Since that means there is a chance that the next Executive Director will not be secured by Jacob's departure, the Board has worked with the Association staff to implement a continuity and transition plan for the organization. For the next four months, Megan Sanicki, former Director of Sales & Business Development at the Drupal Association, and Jacob Redding will both serve as Managing Directors of the Association. Megan has already worked closely with Jacob over the last two years to build the Drupal Association and set direction. In the event that there is a gap of time between Executive Directors, Megan will be well prepared to bridge that gap and ensure operations continue without missing a beat. And, in this new role, she will focus on optimizing Drupal Association operations, so we will be positioned for the new Executive Director to start strong on his or her first day.

Please welcome Megan to her new position at the Drupal Association.

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