New ways to do things (Re: Doing the Right Things?)

Dave Crocker dhc at
Tue Jun 3 16:46:21 CEST 2003

Keith and Harald,

KM> 3. We need to see if there are specific kinds of areas or activities that we
KM> need to engage in, for which our WG processes don't work well.

1. We do have some other mechanisms. IAB retreats and individual
submissions are two examples. And though we often make humorous,
dismissive reference to them, I believe Bar BOFs are a real and very
productive part of our repertoire.

2. Absent specific suggestions, the basic claim that we ought to have
different formal categories of groups sounds entirely reasonable.
However practical alternatives are not obvious, to me at least. That is,
I do not understand what functional differences are needed, to produce
better results. (The labels are not the issue to me; but the structure
and operational style are.)

HTA> I think that for each solution path to be pursued, a core team with
HTA> competence and energy to drive the process is needed, no matter what - and
HTA> that once we have that, it almost doesn't matter how long the formal
HTA> process to start the thing is; they can go to work right away, and do
HTA> course corrections as part of the chartering process, rather than waiting
HTA> for the "formalities" to complete before starting work.

I heartily agree with this.  When a group is motivated enough to start
doing the real work, independent of IESG approval, then the latter is
usually assured.

The danger, of course, is that those "course corrections" might turn out
to be "starting over" and that's not such a good thing.  On the other
hand, my own experience is that a group that has a strong enough sense
of needing to delivery something, so that it does not wait for the IESG,
usually has a compelling goal and effort.

HTA> There are working groups that function in a number of different modes:
HTA> Would we be better off if we developed a few terms different from "working
HTA> group"

This is one of those things that sounds completely reasonable, except
for lacking the detail needed to be concrete.

Yes, different projects have different goals. Some are cleanup
exercises. Some are intended to invent whole new systems. Some are
intended to create nicely-modular capabilities. Some involve
well-understood problems and possible solutions. Some involve a great
deal of fuzziness.

But all of them are established to produce one or more documents,
usually specifying a protocol.

Absent concrete details about the operational differences that are
appropriate to these different writing exercises, my own belief
continues to be that any group that is sufficiently clear about the
problem it is solving, and the benefit of that solution, and further
that has a sense of urgency about providing it, will operate just fine
as a working group.

It is easy to create lots of distinguishing labels.  But what will be
the real benefit?

We need to be careful not to make distinctions that lack essential

MW> We've been trying to figure out the *right* way to run a
MW> non-standards-oriented function in the IETF -- specifically
MW> internal education/training.
MW> I suppose that we could have an internal education directorate,
MW> but that wouldn't help to make our efforts more visible and/or
MW> allow for wide community input.

MW> So, maybe we need a WG?  It would be a weird WG, but a WG
MW> seems preferable to continuing to conduct this effort in
MW> a back-room effort...

I believe the core construct that you are citing is one of an *on-going*
effort. Indeed this is something that we have never figured out
comfortably. The history of open-ended working groups is quite poor, so
this is a case in which we well might want to create a different
category. However, we need to be very clear about its nature and
obligations. What will it do that is different from a working group?

Hmmm.  Is it slightly similar to kind of IAB, in the sense of providing a
home for a collection of experts so that they can provide strategic
guidance about one or more topics, with the intent that other groups
then follow through on the work?

 Dave Crocker <mailto:dcrocker at>
 Brandenburg InternetWorking <>
 Sunnyvale, CA  USA <tel:+1.408.246.8253>, <fax:+1.866.358.5301>

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