W3C’s Domain structure served it and the Web well for most of our first two decades. In the earlier days of the Web, when the platform was relatively simple, technologies fell neatly into different domains. More recently, however, as the platform’s uses and ecosystem have grown and changed, the Domain model has struggled to meet the full potential of the Web.
We tried to make up for Domain-based management’s shortcomings by surrounding the Domains with a number of other management systems focused on cross-domain, industry, and member communications. Buttressed with these additional mechanisms, the Domain-based structure survived, but its foundational flaws need to be repaired. So we will now move to a different, functional, approach to the management of W3C that better accords with the nature of today’s Web and the expectations of its diverse users, developers, and implementers.
To lead the Web to its full potential today requires a flexible team organized to interact with a complex ecosystem of technologies, stakeholders, and industries. It requires well-researched strategy development, rigorous project management, and careful architectural coordination. Above all, it requires us to refocus on our strengths building technical and social consensus on an open interoperable platform with global reach. If we step up to this challenge, we can lead the Web into the 21st century. If we fail to adapt, we risk irrelevance for ourselves and fragmentation of the Web platform.
This document enumerates some of the shortcomings in W3C’s current system, outlines the new functional management structure to address these flaws, and then goes into greater detail on the new functions, team organization, and anticipated workflows.
Some of the cracks in the current system:
To address these flaws this document describes a new structure where leadership roles are more clearly assigned to address the issues.
This is not to say that there aren't important, useful features of the previous Domain oriented organization. W3C has important, unique strengths as a standards organization. These include:
So this reorganization focuses on sustaining and/or improving these features while improving the areas listed above as opportunities for improvement.
The new structure organizes all of W3C differently – starting from the Domains. It replaces the Domain-based organization with a functional structure. The W3C Team becomes a single team working on Web technology together, rather than several stovepiped teams. The top-level organizational map identifies a lead for each functional area and re-classifies the work of technical domains among the multiple functional areas on which technical progress depends: Strategy, Project, and Architecture and Technology management, supported by focus on Industry, Global Participation, Member Satisfaction and Community management. Each area is managed by a functional lead.
Strategy Management has primary responsibility to ensure that we are working on the correct topics to lead the Web to its full potential. Project Management has primary responsibility to ensure that we deliver the specifications that are needed in a timely fashion. Architecture and Technology Management ensures that the collection of specifications works well together to provide an overall architecture for the web.
Success in identifying topics and completing topics increasingly depends on strengthening our relationships with our Members. These relationships enable us to understand Member needs and gain their full participation. Industry Management focuses on Industry needs and liaise with the standards organizations of those industries. Global Participation Management focuses on the essential task of increasing actual Member activity in our groups. Member Satisfaction Management ensures that Members are satisfied with W3C and have channels to recommend improvement. Community Management ensures that we are working with key developers both inside and outside of our Membership.
Other functions (e.g. business development) are reshaped slightly as an
outcome of the new structure.
The ;Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is a long-time publicly visible brand of W3C, and will be kept as a brand and as an Initiative, led by the WAI Director. As reflected in the WAI Sponsorship description, the Initiative ensures a cohesive package of accessibility work to enable partnering of multiple stakeholder groups within the W3C structure, to address coordinated aspects of technical, educational, and standards harmonization work. However, whereas in the past the work was mostly managed by a single Domain, accessibility work is now distributed and integrated across the new functions (primarily Strategy, Project and Architecture & Technology) supported by the WAI specialists and WAI Director, in order to leverage broader commitment to accessibility throughout the organization. The WAI Director will report quarterly to W3M on the effectiveness of the distributed accessibility work in meeting accessibility goals, and as needed if specific issues arise.
With this new leadership structure the focus is on resolving the above shortcomings. Each leader has a major responsibility to improve results in their area. A mapping of shortcomings to functional areas can be found in the Amelioration section in this document.
Each function has a lead who takes overall responsibility for the area. Leads do not perform every action themselves; they lead the entire team in the performance of area activities. In many cases the lead engages exclusively in that function, but there are also functions for which the lead is part-time; spending other time working in other functions.
In many cases this organization style breaks the traditional hierarchical style of a “20th century organization” where individuals were “owned” by a particular manager because they were in a group. The functional organization, with individuals spending time working with multiple functions, is typical of emerging “21st century” collaborative models.
The structure will also help clarify to our stakeholders the various activities that contribute to success. For example, in a recent set of surveys we saw a complete disconnect between W3C Team Contacts and Group Chairs as to the priorities of the work done by Team Contacts. The former emphasized technology expertise and long-term vision whereas the latter emphasized process. This organization will more clearly surface the multi-faceted role of the Team: getting things done (project management) and leading the Web to its full potential (strategy management and architecture). Finally, the structure will help us to move again at Web-speed, to meet the platform where it will be.
It is important to note that nothing in this document changes the role of the Director or the W3C Process.
The “products” of W3C are Recommendations that collectively lead the Web to its full potential. The W3C Strategy Management Lead is responsible for ensuring that we are developing the right collection of specifications to achieve W3C’s mission. Specific responsibilities include:
To provide assistance in organizing all of this work, we create the role of Strategy Specialists. The Strategy Specialists spend some of their time working with the Strategy Management Lead on a set of areas that evolve in time based on current importance. The areas we start with are: Accessibility (WAI) & Internationalization, Security and Privacy, Payments, Core (HTML, CSS, Perf, …), Media and RTC, Devices (WoT, Sensors, …), Digital Publishing, Data. The Strategy Management Leader will lead other areas until a Specialist emerges.
The Strategy Management Lead might be a Strategy Specialist for one or more areas. Most Strategy Specialists also work in other functions in the organization; in many cases, the same person might have both the role of Strategy Specialist and Technology Specialists (defined below).
W3C succeeds only if it actually gets the work done that it is committed to deliver. The W3C Project Management Lead focuses on meeting all of the milestones of all of the groups, facilitating the work of Team Contacts, Chairs, and Editors to ensure that the work is moving forward appropriately, and driving the work necessary to achieve operational success. Specific responsibilities include:
To provide assistance in managing and tracking all of this work, we create the role of Project Specialists. The Project Specialists spend some of their time working with the Project Management Lead on a set of groups. The exact number of groups per specialist and the number of specialist will vary in time as they provide a primary role mostly for workload balancing. The Project Management Lead will lead groups directly if there is no Specialist assigned. Project Specialists may also need to temporarily sit-in for Team Contacts if those are away.
The Project Management Lead might be a Project Specialist for one or more areas. Most Project Specialists also work in other functions in the organization.
Given the large amount of tracking required, it is anticipated that the Project Management Lead will work with Systems to develop tools to make it easy for Team Contacts to self-report and reduce the administrative load on the Project Management Lead.
To avoid conflict of interest, the Project Management Lead should not represent the Director during transition calls.
Project Management drives projects to be completed on schedule. However, in reality, there are multiple causes of schedule slip and some can be resolved strictly within the project management function. Many relate to basic project management issues: getting sufficient participation from editors, resolving issues in a timely basis, getting test cases, etc. In those cases, the Team Contact works with the project specialists and the Project Management Lead to ensure that the W3C Process is adhered to, but the project tries to achieve its schedule.
In some cases, project delays result from technical, architectural disputes. There could be disputes whether a project has the correct overall technical design, has sufficient horizontal review, or has some specific technical bug. In those cases, the Team contact gets support from the relevant technical specialist(s) (described below). In difficult cases, the A&T Lead and Project Management Lead would work together to resolve the correct direction.
Or, delays could develop because of disputes about which parts of the in-scope specification are needed for this spec; and which can wait for the next version. In those cases, the Team Contact may get support from the relevant strategy specialist(s) with resolution between the Strategy Management Lead and the Project Management Lead.
The Architecture and Technology Lead directly supports the Director to ensure that the complex set of technologies that W3C develops in numerous Working Groups hold together cohesively. Specific responsibilities include:
To provide assistance in organizing all of this work, we create the position of Technology Specialists. The Technology Specialists spend some of their time working with the Architecture and Technology Lead on a set of areas that evolve in time based on what is looking important. We start with: Accessibility (WAI) & Internationalization, Security and Privacy, Payments, Core (HTML, CSS, Perf, …), Media and RTC, Devices (WoT, Sensors, …), Digital Publishing, Data.
The Architecture and Technology Lead might be a Technology Specialist for one or more areas. Most Technology Specialists also work in other functions in the organization; in many cases, the same person might have both the role of Strategy Specialists (defined above) and Technology Specialist.
The Industry Lead is the primary person responsible for ensuring that W3C has excellent relationships with Industry; including having mutually reinforcing visions; and working well in their ecosystems. The Industry Lead also identifies new requirements for W3C Working Groups and works with Strategy Management to get those implemented in W3C Working Groups.
Specific responsibilities include:
As of now, the current industries we are focused on are: Entertainment, Publishing, Telecommunications, Web of Things, Automotive, and Financial Services/Retail (with respect to payments and e-commerce).
The Global Participation Lead is responsible for ensuring excellent participation from our global community. Responsibilities include:
The Member Satisfaction Lead is responsible for ensuring excellent relationships with our Members. Responsibilities include:
The Community Lead is responsible for ensuring excellent relationships with and participation from our growing and diverse community. Responsibilities include:
The Business Development Lead is responsible for maximizing the revenue achieved by W3C. There are some activities that Business Development works on today (e.g. MRM program, retention, some work on industry relationships) that are moved out of Business Development so that Business Development focuses very narrowly and specifically on new revenue attainment. Specific responsibilities of the business development function include:
The function of the Administration and Operations Lead is to coordinate with all of the Hosts on administrative functions and coordinate W3C-wide operations. Responsibilities include:
This is unchanged from today, but will require different conversations with a different kind of a leadership team to get their requirements. Additionally, more focus is needed in several areas, especially:
This is unchanged from today, but will require different conversations to get their requirements. Additionally, more focus is needed in several areas, especially:
This is unchanged from today, but will require different conversations with a different kind of leadership team.
With a functional style leadership, how do we maintain the hallmark of W3C - the subject matter expertise?
There are several elements which should actually improve the subject matter expertise. First, there is the Architecture and Technology function. For the first time there is a top level leader (other than the Director) whose job it is to ensure that we stitch together the rapidly moving elements of Web technology into a cohesive whole.
Beyond that we have identified roughly ten specialization areas.
Strategy and technology specialists play an important role to ensure
that we continue the strong domain expertise. Additionally, Team
Contacts will continue their role as technical participants and
technical experts in their groups.
Since the new organization structure is motivated by the shortcomings in the organization referenced above, we review the problems and how the new organization addresses them:
|Strategy and Technology Development||Amelioration|
|We need more attention to getting new Working Groups started in new areas, such as Digital Marketing, WoT Working Group, WebRTC NV, privacy, and standardizing vocabularies.||There is a Strategy Management Lead whose primary responsibility is to get us started in new areas.|
|We have encountered major pushback from Members when we submitted proposed WG charters in specific areas.||Strategy Management assures a proposed charter meets clear needs. Member satisfaction is enhancing our understanding of individual Member needs.|
|With the growing complexity of Web architecture, we need to improve our Team efficiency. Workload is growing faster than we can hire to grow the staff. Rather than ask people to spend more hours, we need processes and tools to improve productivity and coordination.||We have an Architecture & Technology Management Lead whose primary responsibility is to focus on the overall architecture.|
|Many specifications are getting stuck in CR, we are not moving our products (RECs) at the pace that we need to.||We have a Project Management Lead to ensure that significant specifications are moving forward.|
|As the overall complexity of Web architecture is increasing, our ability to support the Director and a well-defined, clean, secure platform is not scaling to match.||We have specialization, and potentially improved tooling to enhance productivity of Team Contacts. Architecture & Technology Management provides oversight on the platform architecture.|
|Stakeholder and Industry Engagement||Amelioration|
|It is getting harder to get participation from Members: Specifications depend on people to raise issues, edit documents, chair, test. A stronger focus is required.||There is a Strategy Management Lead to notice the problem and raise a concern internally to the Team. There is a Community Management Lead who will be closer than ever to Members and be able to command attention to get resources assigned.|
|Industry champions have not uniformly been able to achieve a high level of engagement and common vision with their industries. Across most industries there is insufficient engagement at senior levels. We have more business development opportunity than what we have achieved.||There is now an Industry Management Lead whose primary responsibility is to engage with industries.|
|We need a higher level of engagement with industry groups that rely on W3C for their next generation technology.||There is now an Industry Management Lead whose primary responsibility is to engage with industries.|
|We are not adequately succeeding in getting sufficient participation in Asia.||There is a Global Participation Management Lead who has significant responsibility to help overcome issues in time zone, language, and culture.|
|We are not getting the level of partnership we need with the WHATWG.||We have a Community Management Lead who by working directly with the WHATWG; and by using influence with key Members will ensure that we enhance the partnership.|
|We continue to struggle with prioritization, including resource allocation, across W3C. A ZBB exercise has not reached consensus even on a framework, so its impact is highly questionable.||There is a Strategy Management Lead who has significant responsibility to prioritize resources to where they are needed.|
|Communication across individuals in the Team needs to be improved.||By breaking up Domain silos we move to a more collaborative structure across the Team.|
|The fiscal year 2016 new member revenue attainment was the lowest since 2010, despite large opportunity in several growth areas.||Business Development focuses solely on bringing in new revenue and not on other aspects of member relationship management or retention.|
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