Magento and the ecosystem at large have long benefited from a host of independent publications, events, and activities, because they encompass much more than Magento's corporate priorities and goals. Independent activities such as Meet Magento apply to the community at large because they better reflect the realities of business as experienced by everyone in the ecosystem.
Because independence is so vital, Magento and Germany's Meet Magento Association have spent the past few years working towards a shared mission of supporting the ecosystem that supports us all. Through this partnership, in 2017 both organizations recognized the need for even closer collaboration around Meet Magento and an expansion of the scope and resources behind Meet Magento Association's activities. Thus we decided to transition Meet Magento Association into a new, US-based nonprofit named the Magento Association (MA).
Magento Association Task Force
Creating a nonprofit association to support a global community is a massive undertaking and not at all in my area of expertise. To assist in this, we reviewed several association management companies, and SmithBucklin was the overwhelming choice due to their pioneering history and long-term management of other tech-focused communities. Magento gladly facilitates SmithBucklin's past and ongoing involvement, as the value of their service cannot be overstated. They bring an experience-refined process which has allowed us to do the following:
- Capture community mindset and recognize under-reached/under-served segments (e.g. merchants)
- Responsibly empanel a diverse group of community leaders to lay the foundation for the MA
- Conduct an initial Board selection which follows best practices in evaluation and propriety
I've blogged several times about these activities as they've happened:
- Hosting multiple ideation sessions with community members, to give us a general direction
- Creating the MA Task Force to define the mission, scope, and initial strategy of the MA, as well as select the inaugural Board
- Hosting open applications for the inaugural Board
- Selecting the Board from over 100 applicants
Process & FAQ
Several community members have reached out to me and others involved to better understand the process around many of these activities. I'd like to share some insights there.
How was the Task Force selected? Shouldn't the meetings have been open to everyone?
In forming the task force, Magento and SmithBucklin relied on the information gathering sessions to empanel a group which represented much of the diversity in our community. We invited people who we knew could commit several hours/week for several months, and could make decisions effectively and collaboratively. It's worth noting that several people turned down this invitation, citing personal commitments, something for which I am grateful.
As for being open to everyone, I struggled with not having these meetings totally out in the open and subject for feedback from all. However, design-by-committee is hard enough (we've probably all experienced this at one time or another in our jobs). Design-by-all is untenable, especially when trying to execute rapidly. In the end, the results of these efforts are visible in our mission statement, our bylaws, and the Board itself. More details can be found at https://www.magentoassociation.org/about
How did the Task Force account for all of the diversity in the Magento Ecosystem?
Given the diversity of the Magento ecosystem and the moral imperative to make our industry better reflect the world we live in, the Task Force constantly challenged itself to consider each topic and to conduct each activity with inclusiveness and outreach in mind. While not every possible demographic, business profile, etc. was personally represented by Task Force members, each was chosen in part for their work and exposure across many of the profiles that make up the Magento ecosystem. It's easy to look at a name – or face – and consider only one dimension of that person, while not recognizing their significant insight and experience outside of that bucket.
How was the Board selected? Why wasn't I invited to apply?
Everyone in the Magento community was welcome to apply for a Board seat, and over one hundred people did (an unprecedented number in SmithBucklin's experience). These were scored by Task Force members alone (not by Magento or SmithBucklin staff). Scoring was anonymized to a reasonable degree (i.e. names were removed). It is important to note that Task Force members recused themselves from scoring themselves, family, coworkers, and close contacts. From these rankings we identified almost 30 suitable Board members, from whom we selected the top 20 in-depth interviews. The Task Force also instituted diversity requirements of those 20 interviewees to ensure that merchants, women and members from developing countries were properly represented. These live interviews were conducted by two or more Task Force members, and were recorded so that all Task Force members could review in order to have a fully-informed final ranking. The top candidates from this group are the Board that we have today!
Why doesn't the Board mirror community demographics? How will the Board account for all of the diversity in the Magento Ecosystem?
The Task Force focused on seating a Board that is diverse in both representation and in thought. In representation we have ticked several boxes, while several remain unticked. While nine total seats are far too few for every member of the Magento community to look and see themselves mirrored in the leadership, this number represents a healthy mix of voices while allowing for efficient decision making.
It is imperative that the Association ensures constant outreach to ensure that all voices are heard and all perspectives are considered. We believe one of the first things we need to do is empower the community to self-organize areas of interest. These committees can aggregate regional, social, and economic information and feedback, which will facilitate increased awareness for all and become a powerful conduit for shaping the Association's as well as Magento's priorities.
How long do Board members serve? How will they be chosen in the future?
In the future, per the Magento Association bylaws, the Board election will take place annually. All Board members will serve two-year terms, with the exception of 3 formational Board members serving one 3 year term, and will be required to run for re-election if they wish to continue to serve. All Magento Association members in good standing will be able to apply for the Board. An Election Committee consisting of a few appointed Board members and member volunteers will review the applications, determine who will be interviewed and present a suggested Board slate to the membership. All voting-eligible Magento Association members will have the opportunity to either approve or decline the slate. Once quorum is reached, the slate will be approved or rejected. The membership is key to the election process moving forward. Under these guidelines, the first Magento Association election will take place in the spring of 2021.
What are the official bylaws of the Magento Association?
Please find the bylaws via this permalink: https://magentoassociation.org/bylaws
What are the next steps for the Magento Association?
In addition to continuing management of the Meet Magento brand of events, the Board is spending its first couple of meetings ensuring that the fundamental functions, activities, and processes are in place. Even as this is being completed, we will be reaching out to the community to determine areas of interest, be they geographical (e.g. “Magento in XYZ”), business role (e.g. “Store Owner Advocacy”)… anything that you consider important. The Magento Association serves at the pleasure and in the interest of the Magento ecosystem, and it is a goal to ensure that your voices are heard by fellow community members and by Magento itself. Given the passion of the Magento community, we look forward to the challenge before us, and to your enthusiastic involvement. In the coming days we will post another blog with more details on these next steps.