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Comment: Added ODK Convening Summary email

Table of Contents


Concept Notes / Future Organization Models for ODK

Direct links to Concept Notes: 

  • Note A Join an Existing Foundation
  • Note B New ODK Nonprofit with Paid Staff
  • Note C Become Part of a New Nonprofit Foundation of Software for Social Good
  • Note D Hybrid – Establish New Nonprofit Partnering with Small Consortium of ODK-related Companies to Maintain and Further Develop ODK
  • Note E Existing for-Profit Company
  • Note F The (Nearly) “Nothing” Approach


From a community survey conducted as input to this event (presented by Waylon):

Raw fe

Outcomes / ODK Convening Summary

(The following ODK Convening Summary was emailed to all attendees 13 July 2017.)

Re: ODK Convening Summary


Thank you for your contributions to the ODK convening two weeks ago, it was a pleasure to meet in person, and to have thoughtful, important discussions on the future of ODK.  We are happy how the convening came out, and look forward to future gatherings of the ODK community.


This email summarizes some of the key takeaways from the convening.  The PMC will be sending out email in about two weeks communicating the next steps on the ODK transition, including details on the structure and mandate of the transition team.


This docs master list links to over 35 documents.  While you all did an excellent job of taking readable, useful notes, that’s still a lot to go through, so here are some highlights:


Project Timeline


To clarify the timelines for both Nafundi and UW with respect to ODK, the PMC provided an update followed by Q&A.  You can read the notes from that discussion.   Here are the timelines that were presented:

  • ODK 1.0
    • UW support ends September 2017
    • Nafundi continues involvement for a period of 2-3 years
      • Continued community building
      • Continued core software development
      • Documentation
      • Support
  • ODK 2.0
    • UW support continues through 2018
      • Core software development winding down at end of 2017
      • Switch focus to working with partners on field deployments
      • Documentation 
      • Support


Transition Planning


As an outcome of the convening, we determined that we would expand the PMC to a “transition team” to help with the planning of the projects through the end of the year.  You can read about a transition planning session here.  The PMC is using the discussion from this session as well as earlier sessions as a guide to formalize a plan.  The PMC intends to announce some initial plans on the structure and mandate of the transition team after soliciting further feedback through the concept notes.   We will likely move forward in the next month with technical steering committees for ODK 1.0 and ODK 2.0, as well as an advisory group for the transition.


Takeaways from the Concept Note Discussion


The discussions of the concept notes generated a lot of useful feedback.  This included ideas on funding, governance, community feedback, and the technical roadmap.   Based on this feedback, two new concept notes are being written, creatively named Note G, and Note H.  Here are some questions that kept recurring:


  • What are the key priorities of ODK, and what outcomes do they result in?  
  • How do we get the necessary resources?
  • How separately should ODK 1.0 and ODK  2.0 be treated? ODK 2.0 does not subsume ODK 1.0, so the numbering is confusing.
  • How can we promote innovation without overextension of resources and disruption of things that are working?
  • What are the specific organizations willing to participate in any of these structures?  Whether we adapt a specific structure depends on whether anyone actually wants to take the leadership roles each model needs.


We’ve summarized the feedback in this doc.  It will help guide the transition team going forward.


If you are interested, please take the time to review the notes for the sessions you participated in and rescue any great ideas or find any action items you committed to.  The docs are no longer editable, but you should still be able to comment on them as needed, and we can always edit them for you if there’s a pressing need.


Other Plans, Proposals and Outcomes


A variety of other proposals and plans emerged from the sessions.  The transition team will be aided by ODK 1.0 and ODK 2.0-specific steering committees and there will also be regular ODK 1.0 and ODK 2.0 specific dev calls.  Here’s a forum thread for the ODK 1.0 call and a forum thread for the ODK 2.0 call.  For those interested in ODK 1.0 and ODK 2.0 individually there are notes from the ODK 1.0 breakout session and ODK 2.0 breakout session.


The need for a discussion of goals and priorities became clear early on.  From that discussion came the first draft of a mission statement, which you can find here.  If you’re interested in helping refining that draft into a final version, please comment on the thread.  We are also looking for someone to lead that process, so if you want to try your hand at community consensus-building, here is a chance.


The breakout session on ways for non-coders to get involved was hugely successful, thanks in large part to Allie Lieber’s leadership.  Check out her post on the forum, which includes a link to the session notes as well as a “living spreadsheet” documenting ways for non-coders to get involved and who to contact to help.


Improving Our Communication


One of the lessons we learned at the convening is how important it is for us to improve our communication.  We were surprised to discover that most attendees didn’t know Nafundi had launched a big documentation effort with a paid tech writer.  There are also several ongoing ODK 2.0 implementations that people were not aware of.  We clearly need to improve our communication inside and outside of the project.


We had several breakout sessions related to communication and knowledge management.  The most focused of these was the ‘Communications Tools & Strategies’ session from Day 2, but the curious might also want to check out the Documentation Strategy & Tactics session (also from Day 2) as well as the Information Architecture unconference session.


Here are two of the forum threads relating to communication improvement:


Takeaways from Wrap-Up Session


A number of other important ideas came out of the wrap-up session:


  • The PMC should be more transparent about works in progress.
  • Default to action!  When it doubt, make a suggestion, ask your question, submit your PR!
  • We’re already seeing results from working more openly and collaboratively - more contributions, more downloads/active users, better software health metrics.  
  • Convenings are fun and productive, let’s do more of them!


Thank you again for helping to make the convening so successful.  Let’s continue discussing ODK and how to improve it on the forum!


-Richard, Waylon, Yaw and Carl


More Photos

Day 1 introduction on challenges of maintaining open source global good software (by Richard Anderson from UW):