I say this because from time to time, I have to remind people of this. Yes, very infrequently I will write blog posts that are intended to factually present the news of the day before I give all of you my take on it. Here's an example from 2011. Here's another from 2012. But it's not my usual thing.(1) Usually, I'm content to point you at the news or assume that you know it, then give you my opinion of it. This is an opinion blog. That's what I do here. If you want news, there are two perfectly serviceable EVE news websites linked off to the right.
I want to make sure I'm being clear on this because when I talk about the CSM Summit minutes which I'm going to do in a whole series of posts, I want you (and interested CSM members) to know that these are my opinions, not the facts. Want the facts? Read the Summit Minutes, or read a news site's coverage. Ready? OK.
Focus: CSM Summit Minutes, "CSM as Stakeholder" session
In September, I appeared on the Declarations of War pod-cast with CSM Chair Seleene, Alekseyev Karrde, and Hans Jagerblitzen. At that time, I asked them what they thought their accomplishments as a CSM were. They were quick to point to the unprecedented length and detail of the May Summit Minutes. And then they talked for quite a while about their efforts to make the CSM's stake-holder status mean something concrete. For months, I have been told that one of the reasons that the CSM were staying relatively quiet was because they were working on this goal, they had NDA concerns around it, and they didn't want to threaten the success of this endeavor. Discussion of this goal is still the most recent post on Seleene's blog, more than three months later.
And in this regard, the Summit Minutes show CSM7 has failed in their objective. Their attempts to make stake-holder status mean something concrete have not been successful.
Reading pages 19 through 25 of the Summit Minutes was an emotional experience for me: I felt inspired, depressed, surprised, and angry, all at the same time. Hidden in seven pages of dry management speak is a blue-print for a total break-down in stated objectives and communications. It really is heart-breaking. Hell, read this one little quote alone:
Two step: What we were told at the summit was [the feature] was going to be player-to-player [service] contracts, and the next thing we hear, without any input from us, was that it was going to be bounty hunting. Our expectation was going to be that we were going to be consulted about decisions like that -- and we didn't even know there was a decision being made.Ouch! CCP couldn't even bother to communicate to the CSM what the signature feature of Retribution was going to be, much less get them involved early enough or often enough in the development process for the actual feature. That's a rather horrific communications break-down. No wonder a lot of CSM7 is so dispirited lately.
At another point, CCP Ripley admits that there were six sprint reviews on the Bounty Hunting feature and the CSM was only directly involved in the third one... and that one only very late! Once asked, the CSM clearly did their job:
Trebor: One thing that came out of the first iteration is that we proved we can execute within your time requirements."You got included very late in the process," Ripley adds before (probably sheepishly) admitting "there was not a lot of freedom to act on your feedback." Ouch again.
Ripley: I can confirm that. In my interactions with you guys, we talked about things and you were just on it.
Now, to his credit, CCP Unifex opened the session by clearly stating that the buck stopped with him, he recognized that the experiment had failed, and the failure was mostly -- potentially almost entirely -- on CCP's side. To his further credit, he still agrees with the approach and wants to iterate on it and continue its development. That's good news: CSM as Stakeholder is not going to be dropped by CCP. CCP Seagull and CCP Ripley were both present at the session, also bought into this strategy, and both communicate in the Minutes that they want to engage the CSM as part of their respective processes, Seagull focusing on getting CSM input on future plans, and Ripley on using the CSM as a stake-holder during the actual development schedule.
The right things are being said. Now. Before...
Seleene: ...later we found out that the people in the team were not even aware we were involved [as stakeholders].So there's clearly some work to be done here. Whether I'm on it or not, I hope CSM8 will continue that work.
Hans: One of the telling things was that in the spring review we received, there was a document visible on the screen that listed the stakeholders, and CSM was not listed.
Two step: Part of the problem for us is that we not only don't know about the decisions until after they're made, we don't even know they are being made.
A bit like Frodo, CSM7 has gotten the One Ring to the base of Mount Doom. That's the good news. The bad news is that Frodo seems to be dying there. ;-) The idea of "CSM as Stakeholder" is going to need a bit more help at this point. The failed experiment can still succeed.
(1) In both cases, I factually presented the news only because I was not confident of a lack of bias covering the story from the news sites in question but don't tell them that. ;-)