Chair Succession


...a steady stream of conferences is ensuing in steady state. You need to identify a stream of suitable conference chairs to lead the conferences.

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Effective leadership most often emerges from experience. On one hand, you want to choose a conference chair who will draw people to the conference, and that implies that the individual has community visibility and credibility. However, in the pattern community, people tend not to come to the conference based on the credibility of its technical program, so the program chair personality is of little consequence in marketing. Attendees have little enough insight into the organizational abilities of the conference chair to be able to make a decision to attend based on who fills that position.

The conference chair should have close ties to the geographic proximity of the venue.

Hillside membership could be a criterion for being a chair, but the qualifications for such membership are not well delineated. The nomination and membership process is sufficiently informal as to not constitute a quality gate. Yet it would be good for the successor to bear some community credentials.

One could train conference chairs, but structured training is difficult in a geographically distributed community. However, each conference community comes together at a single venue annually, and that provides a focus for bringing the new chair on board.

Therefore: Create a lineage of chair succession. This year's program chair is next year's conference chair. Next year's program chair is chosen by this year's conference chair and program chair.

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This has the conjectural problem that one person fills two different skill sets: one for program chair, and one for conference chair. However, in most PLoPs these two roles blur and are differentiated largely by the connection the conference chair has to the venue. Because ChairSuccession causes the role to change, it may lead to a mismatch between the chair and the venue. To fix this, use ?VenueFollowChair (as is done for VikingPLoP) or ?SmallConference (which implies that the constituency for a conference is small enough that all of the organizers can be local people, as has been the tradition for KoalaPLoP).

This pattern was started almost from the beginning at EuroPLoP, which has found it to be successful. Lack of this pattern at other PLoPs has caused decisions that are out of line with widely agreed policies and even with the culture of the community.

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Last edited October 31, 2004
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