I think Maggie has done a good job of comments on Nate’s points and thus won’t repeat what she said (although I agree and support them).
I did want to comment on one specific aspect of the Blog post that spoke to why you (Nate) were not as supportive as you had been…the specific comment was:
“As the merger has moved forward however, I have become less supportive of an immediate merger, only because I have seen it generate sufficient friction within the Sakai community that I believe could be a damaging distraction to other important work.”
I think (hope) that those who know me know that I work hard to find consensus when working with groups and much prefer collaboration over “friction”. This said, I have certainly come to feel that “friction” and disagreement is a fact of life in our communities and, to a large degree, is part of the open community-based decision making process. All organizations have internal “arguments” when it comes to strategic decisions but in many contexts these are done behind closed doors or only at the senior management level. A core value of community-based decisions (imo) is that these “arguments” are done in much more of a public light…the downside is that everyone gets to see people’s strong emotions about their opinions…but that is also a big benefit.
Thus, although I would prefer there to always be consensus in our communities I know that is not practical and, to some extent, would not be healthy. The current friction we are seeing I think is the result of where we are in this decision making process and the outcome of a healthy and important debate. I also think it is worthwhile pointing out that we have seen this type of “friction” many times in Sakai’s history whether it was around the merging with OSP or the work over the past few years around OAE. I think in both cases our communities were better off because of the debates that took place around these decisions in the same way we will be better for with this one.
I don’t want to leave the wrong impression. I have been aware of what I might characterize as unprofessional or immature behavior in some of the discussions that have taken place. Although I think these often flow from the fact that our community has a lot of passionate people in it (a strength) who can become very emotional about these issues (as I sometimes do myself), this type of behavior is not productive and can distract from the decision making process I noted above. I think the cases of these have been very limited and generally not done “in public” but I would agree that it would be best if things remains civil and professional.
So, yes, we have seen some heated debates around the merger issues and there has been some friction caused by them. Should we delay or slow down the merger planning because of this friction? I, fairly strongly, do not think so as I believe this friction is a natural outcome of our community decision process. I would also suggest that we reflect on where we would be if we backed off decisions, such as OAE, when they caused similar friction.
I’m glad that you (Nate) took the time to post your thoughts and hope that this dialog and others continue.