As part of my exit from the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship, I was asked for my feedback of the Foundation, its processes, and its communication. I feel compelled to share this here perhaps for future Fellows, but more so as a reflection for myself of what it was like to work with such an innovative, forward thinking, and yet somewhat young Foundation. Some of this feedback I can relate to my own businesses as well. I copied this nearly verbatim from my email:

The Amazing

The fellowship model is incredible. I feel wonderfully supported and encouraged by the other fellows, and inspired everyday by what each person is doing. Catching up with everyone during the weekly text chat ‘fellow-ups’ is awesome, especially to see all the positive encouragement from others, and have an abundant offering of resources, advice, and connections always available.

Having so many open advocates and movers and shakers under one roof is something very special and powerful. I feel that. Its good for the spirit to see so many others fighting the same fight but in such vastly different ways. I feel privileged to be a part of it and know that I will continue to gain a lot of value from being a Shuttleworth Fellow.

Meeting face-to-face for bi-annual Gatherings was very special to me and delineates the Fellowship from other programs. I love the emphasis on people, not projects, and how that carries over into other operations of the Foundation. My first Gathering I didn’t know what to expect. It was so soon into my fellowship that I was scared and intimidated. All of that went away as soon as I stepped into the conference room. The feeling of community, the sharing of common goals, and the genuine excitement in the room combined with the incredible openness of everyone allowed me to feel right at home. Post gathering, I felt a much stronger sense of camaraderie during the fellow-ups. All of this was strengthened during my second gathering, and its incredible that I can continue joining for Gatherings to come.

The autonomy and minimal bureaucracy and reporting was very nice. The quarterly updates were reasonable to do, and the bi-monthly check-ins + weekly fellow-ups was a winning combination to stay connected.

The Foundation staff is amazing. Yes, you! You are amazing – honest! I’m never going to forget having drinks on an island in the Mediterranean, and going swimming in our underwear, and sharing a meal down the Danube, and laughing together at Gunner’s amazingness, and wearing the same shoes as you all, and being inspired and fired up about the open future. So thank you for being the awesome people that you are, and sharing that with me!


A Mediterranean cruise with the Foundation at the end of the Malta Gathering – October 2014

The Mediocre

It seems that the Foundation is growing fast and can’t support the Fellows to the best extent it could. Communication was sometimes sluggish, and was often postponed or cancelled. I understand with some staff members leaving that there may be a shortage contributing to this, and that there is only one person who regularly interfaces with the fellows – a lot for one person’s plate! I think that to maintain the more personal and involved role that makes the Foundation so special, more staff need to be in place before expanding the number of active Fellows.

I was somewhat struck by the disproportionate gender ratio of the Fellows. Perhaps this is an issue of a disproportionate number of women applying. I think it would be great to actively work to close this gap.

After my re-application was not accepted, I lost a little faith in the ‘people not projects’ mantra. It seems there was/is disappointment and disinterest in how much of my time I focus on OpenFarm over FarmBot. Perhaps the project *is* more important to the Foundation than admitted, in which case, I think that should be owned up to and communicated. Or perhaps I was/am not as rockstar of a person as the Foundation desires, and my performance wasn’t up to par. If that was/is the case, I would have liked to hear it straight. Apologies for speculating to what I imagine is a very complex decision and situation.

The Terrible

I’ve been very frustrated and disappointed with the lack of communication during my last 2 months of Fellowship. Its been so absent that I’ve felt ignored and have been wondering if I did something wrong! It sounds like an issue of being short staffed on the Foundation’s side, which I think can and should be remedied as soon as possible.