Steve McMahon

Plone integrator, developer, trainer and long-time community volunteer.

I'm currently finishing my sixth term on the board, having been secretary for most of that time. I'd be happy to do it again.

There are pros and cons to having such a long-standing board member.


I know a lot of the history of Plone and of the Plone Foundation. I've also learned a lot about the operation of US-based tax-exempt organizations. That knowledge helps me deal with the PF as an organization and make sure it gets important things done. It also helps me to support newer board members and help them implement their goals.


The old Santayana maxim tells us that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." The flip side of that is that those who know too much history can always tell you why something has been tried before and didn't work. That's my long-winded way of saying that an organization needs new blood as well as old. I encourage you to take this into account when you select the 2014-15 board.

Things I'm Proud Of

I'm good at administrative responsibilities, and think I've done a fine job of the mechanical parts of board work, particularly keeping up with board communications and the secretarial chores;

I believe it was Jon Stahl or I that came up with the idea of funding strategic sprints. I think it's not only helped spur development, but helped the Plone community meet face-to-face and welcome newcomers.

It wasn't my idea to start with, but I've very much enjoyed helping refine the foundation's code of conduct. Even when it doesn't need enforcement, it's a good statement of our community values.

Things I'm Not Proud Of

Every board I've been part of has wanted to do something to improve marketing and encourage evangelism. Every board has failed — for a variety of reasons. It's intrinsically hard, and the community also lacks strategic consensus. Nothing to do but keep trying.

Challenges for Plone

I can't resist the soapbox. An issue that regularly comes up is the role of the Plone Foundation and its board in directing development of Plone. Over the years, the PF board has historically tried to stay out of any formal direction of Plone development. This is not just to avoid violating a church/state sort taboo. The Plone Foundation would need to be dramatically reoriented in order to have the practical power to direct development. Follow the money: the annual budget of the foundation is typically around 30,000 to 40,000 USD — insufficient to fund even a single developer or marketer. So, if a board direction discourages even one developer or marketer without producing another, it may be counterproductive.

This puts the PF board in the position of needing to "lead from behind." We are not like a corporate board that can issue orders to employees and expect them to be executed. Instead, we generally need to work at building consensus for the desirability of an action, then helping to enable it. I think our most successful initiative in recent years has been making seed money available for organizing strategic sprints. We've discovered that if we have a company or set of individuals willing to organize a sprint, that making some money available early — typically a fraction of the total expenses for the sprint — can help make it happen.

When a community voice says that something needs to happen, and that the PF should make it happen, they may be right about the first part. That thing may need to happen; we may need that development or marketing effort. But the foundation, as it is currently organized, is not going to be able to do much to make it happen.

So, what should you do if you want a change? If you think that the PF board could help build a consensus for the change, and that some seed funding could help encourage it, then please, please, please join the board. You'll find friends who will help. But also be ready to do the harder work of building consensus among developers and their employers. If you can't find that consensus, build a company or consortium to do it yourself; the Plone Foundation will be happy to work with you!


Érico Andrei
Kim Nguyen
Paul Roeland