CyberTech Rambler

December 13, 2009

Alex Brown started an unnecessary confrontation

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:43 am

When I read that Alex Brown put his frustration about P members putting in objections but did not bother the turn up at the meeting, then at the next paragraph congratulate ITTF for throwing non-participating members out, I know we are heading for a controntation. Sure enough, if you read the comments to the post, and reply from void life(void), you know we have a confrontation on our hand.

I understand the frustration of having people voting against something then did not turn up to the meeting to discuss it. I myself had been in the receiving end lately. In my case, someone put something in the meeting agenda that involved my area of responsibility and on the day of meeting, did not bother to show up. That was frustrating because I attended the two hour long meeting for that single agenda item. Understandably, I am not happy.

I am not a diplomatic person, I would had exploded. Luckily for me the chairman took it to himself to put it in the meeting minutes that tell everyone who put an agenda item to turn up as there were a few attendees in the same boat as me. To me, to put something on the agenda then not turn up is very unprofessional, especially no travel was involved in this case: The meeting was held at their workplace.

Essentially, to me the frustration was not that they did not turn up, but did not bother to inform the organizer that they are not planning to turn up. That is one thing I learned from that meeting, It takes only a very small amount of your time to type up an email saying that you are not going to go to a meeting, it makes a lot of difference when people are expecting you. Failing that, sending an apology later would smooth temper.

The other thing I learned is how the meeting’s secretary dealt with them. She called them up individually and asked why they did not attend and remind them when the next meeting is. That makes them take attention on what they had done. Crucially, she did not take a confrontational approach, something I would had done.

In Alex Brown’s case, while I am not excusing Brazil or Malaysia’s behaviour (Declaration of interest: I am Malaysian working in UK, in the same town as Alex Brown), I can see mitigating factors here. First, it is utterly unfair to insist that one have to turn up for a meeting simply because someone has a disagreement with you, i.e., placed an objection in this case. To do so is unhelpful, and can be seen as a means to silence disenting voices. Second. There is a significant amount of travel involved and the participants has to find their own money to fund it.

That is why while I understand Alex Brown’s frustration, I believed he could had handled the issue better. A private chat/email to the National Bodies/persons involved would be sufficient. He should not had written that on his blog, let alone suggesting that they should be thrown off the P member list by mentioning the fact that he supports ITTF recent decision to throws people of the list.

When I saw the two offending paragraphs, I was shocked. Part of the reason is for an English man in general, for someone from Cambridge in particular, the statement was extremely strong. It is also something I did not expect from Alex Brown. After about 5 seconds, and being a blogger myself, I think he was simply writing a post, ranting about his frustration about Brazil and Malaysia’s non-attendance, let his mind wander into ITTF territory and hit the publish button without sitting back and properly read the post to see what the readers will perceive.

Unfortunately, for any writing, it is not what the writer want to communicate that counts, but what readers perceive that count. It is dissapointing that after finding himself having to clarify his intention in two separate reply, he did not find the time to put a clarification note on the original post. I would had done that. Whether readers misread his intention was inmaterial in inserting a clarification, but the fact that some readers do read it wrongly. Without the clarification, I am afraid I am increasingly leaning towards the opinion that Alex Brown was indeed suggesting the two NB to be thrown out of the P member list.

The correct way to handle it is to send a letter to the expected participants and the National Bodies expressing one’s displeasure. Handle this privately, preferably without a paper trail. However, if Alex Brown thinks that a paper trail is necessary, then the letter approach should suffice.

If Alex Brown wants to throw P members countries out of the list, he just have to wait a bit longer. A lot of people, including me, believe that a lot of new “P members” that turn up for OOXML BRM is there only for that vote. We simply have to wait a while longer before we know whether we are right or not. If we are, then he can take his whip out and lashs them until he is content with the punishment, they deserve it.

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