Doing the Right Things?

Jeanette Hofmann jeanette at
Mon Jun 2 15:27:14 CEST 2003

On 2 Jun 2003 at 11:03, john.loughney at wrote:

> > Different working groups might need slightly different mechanisms depending
> > on size, diversity of interests, and the variety of levels of 
> > expertise.
> Agreed.  Also, I think it is the WG chairs' job to be list moderators as well.
> That means interveaning before the attacks get personal; summarizing the
> discussions; etc.  When the mailing list becomes free-form & unstructured,
> I doubt much can come from it.

Do you think that all working groups should appoint a moderator? 
> > b. It's been repeatedly observed for several years that face-to-face meeting
> > time isn't used effectively - it's often taken up almost entirely by
> > presentations of material that could have been read in advance, leaving very
> > little time for activities that really do need face-to-face interaction -
> > like resolving tricky technical disagreements.  Persistent instructions from
> > various ADs to WGs have had little effect.
> > 
> > Powerpoint-style presentations (not that it really matters which tool is used)
> > tend to lull people into passivity, if not sleep.  Video projectors can be
> > great for high quality drawings, or very occasionally, animations to
> > illustrate how something works - but using them to put up words (with fancy
> > backgrounds) that are just repeated by the speaker is to make a really
> > ineffective use of high-bandwidth meeting time.
> > 
> > We need to understand why we are stuck in these ineffective modes,

Judging from the improvements you and Keith suggest, the answer seems to 
be simple: making effective use of face-to-face meeting time means more 
preparatory work. 


> > changes that could get us out of this mode, and implement them for all
> > working groups.  Even the way the room is arranged can make a difference in
> > the effectiveness of a discussion, but right now it's impossible to get the
> > room set up in anything other than theatre style seating which puts people
> > to sleep.  Having lots of people in the room who aren't participating or even
> > listening also has an undesirable effect.
> > 
> > Maybe we need to ban laptops in the rooms.  Maybe we need to have separate
> > orientation sessions for newcomers to the WG so that they don't use the
> > normal meeting time getting up to speed.  Maybe we need to require 
> > participants to pass a basic competency test before entering the meeting room.
> > Maybe we need to get rid of video projectors and put up whiteboards.
> How about better time management; better meeting management, etc? Stronger
> leadership is needed & perhaps a stronger requirement for getting a WG
> slot at an IETF meeting is needed.  The transport area is fairly strict
> about IETF meeting time, by the way.
> One real-life problem that I have in my working group is that we are coming
> to the point where we need to start some protocol work.  I know there will
> be a land-grab, where many people try to bring forward proposals.  In past
> IETFs, I've noticed having 5 presentations on the same topic (but different
> individual drafts) tend to be mind-numbing.  I've been toying with the idea
> of having a group discussing (almost a roundtable) where the different
> parties interested in the protocol work get together and have a common
> discussion time at the IETF up front - highlighting similarities & differences
> between the proposals & general open issues.
> > I suggest that the WG identify what kinds of things need to take place in
> > face-to-face meetings; that these things be given priority on meeting
> > agendas, that ADs check the agendas to ensure that the WG is planning
> > to use meeting time appropriately.  Also we should not assume that
> > face-to-face meetings have to be narrowly focused on the WG; face-to-face
> > meetings can also be good times to resolve differences with other WGs or other
> > interests that aren't represented by WGs.
> I definately agree.   
> John

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