A Handbook for Elected Officers of The Open Group Forums and Work Groups
Prepared by Andrew Josey, VP, Standards & Certification
Copyright © 2012-2018, The Open Group
This document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike 3.0 United States License; see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0. You are free to copy, modify, adapt, and distribute the contents of this document provided you prominently display the attribution “Provided under a Creative Commons license by The Open Group www.opengroup.org”.
The views expressed in this Guide are not necessarily those of any particular member of The Open Group.
Document Number: I122
Published by The Open Group, 2018
Comments relating to the material contained in this document may be submitted to:
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The Open Group is a global consortium that enables the achievement of business objectives through technology standards. Our diverse membership of more than 750 organizations includes customers, systems and solutions suppliers, tools vendors, integrators, academics, and consultants across multiple industries.
The mission of The Open Group is to drive the creation of Boundaryless Information Flow™ achieved by:
• Working with customers to capture, understand, and address current and emerging requirements, establish policies, and share best practices
• Working with suppliers, consortia, and standards bodies to develop consensus and facilitate interoperability, to evolve and integrate specifications and open source technologies
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Further information on The Open Group is available at www.opengroup.org.
The Open Group publishes a wide range of technical documentation, most of which is focused on development of standards and guides, but which also includes white papers, technical studies, certification and testing documentation, and business titles. Full details and a catalog are available at www.opengroup.org/library.
This document provides a Handbook for individuals who are elected to serve as Chairs, Co-Chairs, or Vice-Chairs of a Forum or Work Group within The Open Group. It includes descriptions of the responsibilities for Elected Officers and guidance on leading meetings and the consensus decision-making process. This document should be read in conjunction with the Handbook for the Consensus Decision-Making Process; see .
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The Open Group acknowledges that some sections of this text are based in part on the Wikipedia Article on Consensus Decision-Making (see ), which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
The following documents are referenced in this Guide.
(Please note that the links below are good at the time of writing but cannot be guaranteed for the future.)
 Wikipedia Article on Consensus Decision-Making; refer to: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_decision-making.
 A Handbook for the Consensus Decision-Making Process (I121), July 2018, published by The Open Group; refer to: www.opengroup.org/library/i121.
The work of The Open Group relies on cooperation among a broad cultural diversity of organizations, peoples, ideas, and communication styles.
This document provides guidance for the Elected Officers of The Open Group Forums and Work Groups as we work together to develop multiple, interoperable technologies for Boundaryless Information Flow™.
This document supplements and defers to The Open Group standard governance procedures contained in The Open Group Standards Process. Elected Officers are expected to be familiar with The Open Group Standards Process (available at: www.opengroup.org/standardsprocess).
All the Forum/Work Group decisions, and decision-making processes, will be based on principles that are agreed by, and openly accessible to, members of the Forum/Work Group.
We are committed to the achievement of The Open Group vision, mission, and to adhere to its principles: Openness, Consensus, Public Availability of Published Standards, No Legal Impediment to Implementation or Adoption, Confidentiality, and Executable Standards.
Everything we do is done through goodwill, trust, and collaboration:
• The Forum/Work Group must be inviting, open to hearing everyone’s voice
• We need to express rationale, not just positions
• Decision-making is collaborative and informed
Our shared purpose is to advance a common standard:
• Everyone has a business rationale for participation
• Everyone has come here to make the industry better
• Everyone shares the credit and the benefit
We follow formal processes for planning, operations, decisionmaking, and reaching consensus.
The higher up you are, the more you serve the Forum/Work Group and its members:
• The obligation of the Chair/Vice-Chair(s) is to facilitate the Forum/Work Group to pursue its agreed objectives, and to enable it to make its decisions balanced by consensus, fairness, and the voluntary nature of the organization
• Although a Chair/Vice-Chair may often have special expertise in an area, they recognize that this is secondary to their obligations in the facilitation role and ensure that they are impartial and objective
Seek to collaborate and understand:
• By validating assumptions and inferences
• By clarifying the meaning of special words used
The Elected Officers of a Forum/Work Group consist of the Chair, and/or Co-Chairs, and Vice-Chair(s).
A Chair is elected by the members of the Forum/Work Group and is accountable to the membership of that body and to The Open Group Governing Board for operation and achievements of the Forum/Work Group.
A Chair is supported by a designated staff member of The Open Group (a Forum Director or other Staff Liaison).
A Chair heads the Leadership Team for a Forum/Work Group, which consists of the Co-Chairs, Vice-Chairs, and the Forum Director/The Open Group Staff Liaison.
The term of office is defined in the Forum/Work Group
Operating Charter, and typically is one to two years.
There may be in some instances one or more Co-Chairs that share the role, in which case the Operating Charter will document the details of the role-sharing.
Specific responsibilities of the Chair include:
• Convening meetings and agreeing the objectives and agenda for each meeting with the rest of the Leadership Team for the Forum/Work Group
• Chairing meetings of the Forum/Work Group and the Leadership Team; managing the Forum/Work Group
meetings to achieve their objectives within the published agenda
• Convening meetings of the Leadership Team
• Reporting to The Open Group Governing Board when requested (and any ad hoc groups established by The Open Group Governing Board) on the activities of the Forum/Work Group
• Reporting any direction given by The Open Group Governing Board to the members of the Forum/Work Group
• Monitoring the activities of the Forum/Work Group and bringing to the attention of the Leadership Team any matter where there does not appear to be sufficient consensus to meet the formal governance requirements of The Open Group
• Liaison with the Chairs of other Forums or Work Groups to remain aware of other activities in order to avoid duplication of effort and encourage adoption of appropriate deliverables from other groups
• Ensuring that the consensus process is adhered to for all decisions of the Forum/Work Group
• Ensuring that all sub-committees and projects within the Forum/Work Group are documented in the annual plan and roadmap of deliverables
• Ensuring that all projects within the Forum/Work Group have open accessibility in participation to all Forum/Work Group members and that all deliverables are regularly accessible
Where a Forum/Work Group has a Vice-Chair, the role is elected by the members of the Forum/Work Group. The Vice-Chair is responsible for supporting the activities of the Chair as needed, including active participation as defined in Section 2.3. In the event that the Chair is unable to attend a meeting, the Vice-Chair shall assume the role of Chair.
There may be in some instances one or more Co-Vice-Chairs that share the role, in which case the Forum/Work Group will document the details of the role-sharing in the Operating Charter.
The Elected Officers are responsible for coordinating the activities of the Forum/Work Group on behalf of the membership of the body. Their primary role is to enhance the effectiveness of the Forum/Work Group by formulating recommendations for approval by the members of the body. However, the Elected Officers are authorized to take decisions on behalf of the Forum/Work Group, where warranted, subject to subsequent ratification by the body. The Elected Officers do not have any executive authority to make commitments on behalf of The Open Group nor to direct its staff.
Specific responsibilities of the Elected Officers include:
• Agreeing the schedule of meetings and teleconferences to progress the work of the Forum/Work Group
• Soliciting input from Forum/Work Group members with respect to the content of all meetings of the Forum/Work Group
• Agreeing the objectives and agenda for each meeting
• Ensuring that an Acting Chair is identified and briefed on the objectives and agenda for meetings which both the elected Chair and Vice-Chair(s) are unable to attend
• Formulation of proposals for:
- Changes to the structure of the Forum/Work Group and its operating procedures as documented in the Operating Charter
- Establishment of new projects; changes in scope of projects; termination of projects
- New subcommittees; changes in scope of subcommittees; closure of subcommittees ◦ Resolution of issues
Note that this does not preclude any other members of the Forum/Work Group from making such proposals.
• Acting as an escalation vehicle to handle any issues arising from the Forum/Work Group membership
• Working with the Forum Director or The Open Group Staff Liaison to develop and maintain the Forum/Work Group annual plan and roadmap of deliverables
• Ensuring that new work items follow the established governance guidelines for starting new work items within The Open Group
An Elected Officer may represent The Open Group at external events for the purpose of presenting and discussing the Forum/Work Group and its activities and goals, provided approval has been obtained in advance from The Open Group Staff Liaison. Such individuals may represent themselves as speaking for The Open Group Forum/Work Group.
When an Elected Officer represents the Forum/Work Group at an external event, he or she may not in any way imply or suggest approval or endorsement of any products, goods, services, or specifications of any member or non-member organization. This does not apply to discussing specifications, standards, and activities in standards-setting organizations such as the ISO/IEC JTC 1 in which The Open Group is actively involved in pursuit of its purpose and goals.
When an Elected Officer represents the Forum/Work Group at an external event, he or she will respect the confidential nature of information within the Forum/Work Group and not disclose information that has not been cleared for public release. If the representation includes presentation material, then prior approval of the material should be sought from The Open Group Staff Liaison.
In general, Forums and Work Groups are encouraged to use the consensus decision-making process. The consensus decisionmaking process is a decision-making process that not only seeks the agreement of most participants, but also resolves or mitigates the objections of the minority in order to achieve the most agreeable decision. The consensus decision-making process is covered in detail in the Handbook for the Consensus Decision-Making Process; see .
There are occasions when voting is required:
• Decisions relating to approval of The Open Group Standards
(which must use the approved Company Review process)
• Elections of Officers
• Elections of Liaison Representatives When voting:
• The consensus process must always be applied before a vote is taken
• Keep a clear record of all decisions made with rationale (the Consent Log)
• Votes are always one company, one vote
• A super majority is required; that is, 75% of voting (not counting abstentions) for approval
To promote consensus requires Chairs to ensure that Forums and Work Groups consider all legitimate views and objections, and endeavor to resolve them, whether these views and objections are expressed by the active participants or by others (e.g., another Forum or Work Group, or a group in another organization). Decisions may be made during meetings (face-toface or distributed) as well as through email.
By default, the set of members eligible to participate in a decision is the set of Forum or Work Group members. The Open Group Standards Process does not require a quorum for decisions. Instead, the call for consensus is sent to all members eligible to participate.
Where unanimity is not possible, a Forum or Work Group is recommended to make consensus decisions where there is significant support and few abstentions. The Open Group Standards Process does not require a particular percentage of eligible members to agree to a motion in order for a decision to be made, but there must be sufficient evidence to demonstrate the consensus.
The consensus decision-making process is described in detail in the Handbook for the Consensus Decision-Making Process; see [ 2]. Consensus must be established over a time period sufficient to give any interested party an equal chance to participate. A single teleconference of one (1) hour is not sufficient for this. Electronic means – such as email, electronic vote, or Wiki discussions – may be used, or a series of teleconferences could be held.
This chapter provides brief guidance on leading meetings:
• Plan an agenda that can be accomplished in the time allotted for your meeting
• Prioritize agenda items by placing the most important items first and items of lower importance later
• Consider estimating the time allotted for each agenda item and enlisting a timekeeper
• Ensure the meeting has an appointed notes-taker (who understands the role and format required for minutes)
• Start meetings on time and end meetings on time
• Establish “ground rules” for the meeting
For example, only one person talks at a time, everyone refrains from side conversations, the leader sticks to the agenda, everyone follows time allotments for agenda items, everyone shows respect for others, etc.
• Ensure an attendance list is recorded for the minutes
• Ensure minutes are published after the meeting in a timely fashion (within two weeks and prior to the next meeting)
• Use the consensus decision-making process as an alternative to voting
• The consensus decision-making process is a decision-making process that not only seeks the agreement of most participants, but also resolves or mitigates the objections of the minority in order to achieve the most agreeable decision
(refer to the Handbook for the Consensus Decision-Making Process  for more details)
• When consensus cannot be reached remind participants of the options for progress, such as the unanimity minus two (or U-2) rule, modifying the proposal, and options for dissenters to declare reservations or stand aside (refer to the Handbook for the Consensus Decision-Making Process for more details)
• Be prepared to deal with difficult behaviors and the people who exhibit them
Some suggestions for tackling such individuals:
- Meet individually with people before the meeting to discuss what behaviors they might stop and behaviors they might continue to contribute to a successful meeting
Be clear about what you need while asking them how they can help you accomplish your goals.
- Meet with other group members who have a history of responding inappropriately to disruptive behaviors
Discuss how they can confront the behavior calmly and honestly, keep to the agenda, and avoid encouraging further disruptive behavior.
• Talk at a break with people who seem to be seeking attention by their behavior
Give them feedback in private as to how their behavior affects you and how you think it affects the group. Ask for their help in improving the situation.
• Draw out non-contributing attendees by asking their opinion and complimenting them after they have spoken
Some facilitators begin with an activity that solicits every person’s opinion such as issues they have on a particular topic. This makes it easier for more reticent attendees to contribute later.
• Keep everyone focused on the agenda
If attendees focus on small points and miss the larger picture, refer again to the agenda. Request that distracting issues are set aside for later discussion (e.g., on a white board).
This section contains a number of requirements for managing operations of a Forum/Work Group:
• Announce face-to-face meetings at least 30 days in advance:
- All meetings have to publish minutes
- Use a calendar (such as the Plato events diary)
• Develop an annual plan and roadmap of deliverables for each year (or two-year period):
- An effective technique is to maintain this as a Spotlight presentation
- Based on member proposals
- Based on member consensus
• Work to the plan and roadmap of deliverables, report regularly on progress, and update
• Maintain an Issues List:
- A list of issues where no consensus has been reached; a way to “park” an issue
For example: Issue identifier: How to best organize the specification, should it be a single monolithic document or split into modules?
• Maintain a Consent List (decision log):
- A list of key decisions
For example: Identifier: AGREED. New feature xyz should be incorporated into the specification.
• Maintain a Document Repository:
- A register of Forum/Work Group documents
- Use a Plato site, with categories for different types of document
- Enable all members to upload materials to it
- Ensure all minutes and meeting materials are posted
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