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INTERNET-DRAFT                                    Donald E. Eastlake 3rd
                                                   Motorola Laboratories
Expires August 2004                                        February 2004

    How to Gain Prominence and Influence in Standards Organizations
    --- -- ---- ---------- --- --------- -- --------- -------------

                         Donald E. Eastlake 3rd

Status of This Document

   Distribution of this document is unlimited. Comments should be sent
   to the author.

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   Following some simple guidelines can make it easier for you to gain
   prominence and influence in most standards organizations.

D. Eastlake 3rd                                                 [Page 1]

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Table of Contents

      Status of This Document....................................1

      Table of Contents..........................................2

      1. Introduction............................................3
      2. Eighty Percent of Success is Showing Up.................3
      3. Sit Up Front............................................4
      4. Break Bread.............................................4
      5. Be Helpful..............................................5
      6. Learn The Traditions, Rules, and Procedures.............5
      7. Develop Some Friends and Mentors........................6
      8. Know the Acronyms and Special Terms.....................6
      9. Technical and Communications Skill......................7
      10. Don't Try Too Hard.....................................7

      11. Informative References.................................8
      Author's Address...........................................8
      Expiration and File Name...................................8

D. Eastlake 3rd                                                 [Page 2]

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1. Introduction

   There are some guidelines that can help your prominence and influence
   in most standards organizations. They can be done with reasonable
   safety and moderate effort assuming you have at least normal
   communications and technical skills.

   All organizations are composed of human beings and give the
   appearance to newcomers of having an inner clique that runs things.
   This is true whether there is a semi-permanent cohesive inside group
   that is actually trying to keep all power in its own hands or those
   in positions of power are genuinely trying to be open and willing to
   share and there is a system for their regular replacement. This is
   just the nature of human society. It always takes time and effort to
   get to know new people. [Carnegie]

   All organizations have procedures. It always takes time and effort to
   learn how things are done in an organization. In an organization of
   any size, those who happen to be in positions of authority just can't
   spend equal time talking with everyone about every issue in the
   organization. Their positions mean they will necessarily be in many
   conversations with each other and fewer conversations with the
   average member. And there really are some types of information that
   should be kept confidential, at least until verified and sometimes
   even then, such as charges against individuals. But by following some
   simple guidelines you can greatly accelerate the rate at which you
   will become favorably known in an organization.

   Favorable prominence can increase your chance of being selected for
   positions such as editorship of documents, secretary or clerk of a
   group (so you get to produce the record of what *actually* happened),
   or possibly even some level of chair or deputy chair position.

2. Eighty Percent of Success is Showing Up

   It's the simplest thing! If you are absent, how can you have much
   prominence or influence?

   This applies to all venues, email/messaging, telephone/video
   conference, and especially in person or face-to-face meetings. You
   don't need 100% attendance but your absences should be rare and, if
   possible, only miss less important events.

   Attendance is obviously most important at meetings of the specific
   body in which you are interested. But you should also be on the look
   out for higher-level or lower-level meetings that are open. Many
   standards groups have a multi-level structure. As well as attending
   the group you are interested in, if there are open meetings of

D. Eastlake 3rd                                                 [Page 3]

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   various group chairs or the like, attending those can be a fast track
   even if you only get to observe and be noticed. And if there are sub-
   groups of the group you are most interested in, consider attending
   them also to become better known more quickly. Higher-level meetings
   may be before the beginning or after the end of the regular member
   meetings so if you are really serious, you should be prepared to
   arrive early and leave late.

3. Sit Up Front

   If a meeting is small enough, it doesn't make as much difference. But
   for meetings of any size, especially when starting with an
   organization, sit up front. Don't be afraid of the first row even if
   it's empty, although the second and sometimes even the third aren't
   too bad. Show up early if you need to, but it's usually not necessary
   as most people are extraordinarily reluctant to put themselves in an
   exposed place, like the front row.

   After you have some experience, there may be some group that sits in
   some part of the audience you want to sit with. But, for larger
   meetings, the prominent people generally sit either up near the
   front, or way at the back. (Being in the back generally means you can
   wander around and talk to people, to some extent, without disrupting

4. Break Bread

   All meetings of any length involve refreshment and meals. Otherwise
   the attendees would starve.

   If there is a group catered meal, try sitting with different groups
   or factions to get an idea of the different viewpoints in the
   organization. Or try to sit at a table and eat with people who have
   some seniority and experience in the organization if they seem

   Usually, for multi-day meetings, there is at least one big social
   event where everyone can get together. From small (attendance under
   100) and medium size (attendance under 500 or so) meetings, it is
   common for most people to go to the social. Typically some alcohol is
   available, people are more relaxed and informal. These are good
   events at which to approach high-level officials to exchange a
   pleasant word or two or even make a small request. But don't count on
   being able to engage in detailed technical discussions. Social events
   are commonly at noisy locations. Sometimes, as organizations get
   larger, over a thousand say, the socials get so large and congested

D. Eastlake 3rd                                                 [Page 4]

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   that many of the most prominent people schedule informal meetings or
   the like opposite them. You will just have to see how it works in
   your organization.

   But there will also be plenty of informal dinner groups and lunch
   groups (unless they are all catered) and other get-togethers. At some
   standards meetings you can more or less invite yourself along to such
   meal groups, unless they are a small confidential group or a group of
   employees of a particular company or the like. Usually people will
   warn you if the group plans to spend much of the meal discussing some
   particular issue and you can then decide if you want to go with them.

5. Be Helpful

   Within reason, volunteer to do some of the drudgery for which you are
   competent, such as taking notes during meetings or helping someone
   else draft a proposal, or volunteering to re-write part of a draft
   for clarity and consistency, even if it is a part you don't care very
   much about.

   This sort of thing will get you noticed and put some people in your
   debt, at least in a minor way. But be careful not to volunteer for
   more than you can actually do. Failing to follow through will damage
   your reputation. If you do get over committed, seek help as soon as
   you realize it. The worst possible thing is to fail to meet your
   promises and not let anyone know about it until it is too late for
   them to recover.

6. Learn The Traditions, Rules, and Procedures

   It is quite important to know the traditions of an organization, how
   things get done, what rules are ignored, how rules are interpreted,
   and what rules are rigorously enforced.

   While traditions are more important, it can't hurt to know the
   official rules and procedures. The probability that the lowest level
   groups in the organization actually operate according to the
   officially adopted rules and procedures in minute detail is quite low
   unless the organization has pretty informal rules.  But don't try to
   gain prominence by objecting to procedure just for the sake of
   objecting. If you invoke little known and rarely used official rules
   in small matters, it is a sure way to make people assume that what
   you have to say is silly or obstructionst until proven otherwise. If
   you invoke the official rules so as to override tradition in an
   important matter, be aware that you are playing with a weapon of mass
   destruction. You may or may not accomplish your immediate goal but

D. Eastlake 3rd                                                 [Page 5]

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   the blowback will probably damage your future efforts in that

   Conversely, while it is always the path of least resistance to follow
   tradition, knowing the official rules makes you aware of when they
   could be invoked against you. This may enable you to adopt a path
   that is reasonably congruent with both the traditions and the rules,
   maximizing your chances of success.

7. Develop Some Friends and Mentors

   Trying to get things done and learn what's going on entirely by
   yourself is very hard. If you can, find a few people with more
   experience that you can go to with questions.

   Introduce yourself to people and be friendly. But don't necessarily
   link up with the first people you meet. You want people who are
   knowledgeable and of whom their is a favorable impression within the

   If you follow the advice in Section 5 above, you should have plenty
   of opportunity to get to know experienced people in an organization.

8. Know the Acronyms and Special Terms

   Essentially all technical standards efforts wallow in acronyms and
   special "terms of art". It sometimes seems as if no effort or sub-
   effort is really rolling until it has come up with several non-
   obvious terms to confuse those who have not been involved for a
   while. Nor are acronyms constant. Especially in the early part of a
   standards effort, when ideas are flopping around, acronyms and
   special terms frequently change for further confusion of those not in
   the most active part of the group.

   In fact, if you read an explanation of some deep technical matter
   written so someone outside that field can understand it, you can be
   virtually certain that it is not how experts in the field communicate
   with each other, verbally or in writing. This is true of all fields.
   Read something about engineering big "air vents" and "water pipes"?
   Experts use "plenum" and "penstock".

   It is not a good strategy to get lost in acronyms you don't know, so
   you can't understand what people are talking about and may make a
   fool of yourself if you guess wrong. The best thing is to find out
   about and learn the acronyms in advance. Failing that, unless it
   would be very embarrassing, ask about what acronyms or strange terms

D. Eastlake 3rd                                                 [Page 6]

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   mean as soon as you can, preferably the first time you encounter
   them. Making a written note of their meaning couldn't hurt. Usually
   there will be others who also wanted to ask but were afraid to and
   will be grateful you took the initiative.

9. Technical and Communications Skill

   You may be surprised that I have said very little about technical and
   communication skills although in the Introduction above, it was
   assumed that you had normal skills in these areas.  Certainly, you
   need to understand the technical aspects of what's going on so that
   you can't be easily bamboozled.

   If you are very strong technically and can make substantial
   contributions, this can be helpful in accomplishing your goals if you
   can do it in a way that does not offend too many people. But,
   especially in a large technical standards body, not everyone can be a
   strong technical contributor.

   If you have strong verbal and written communications skills, this can
   also be helpful in accomplishing your goals. But if you are not
   fluent in the dominant language of the standards organization you are
   interested in, you will be at a disadvantage. While the standards
   organization should make some attempt to be approachable by those for
   whom its dominent language is a second language, the best thing to do
   is to put in the time and effort to become fluent. [Farber] As a stop
   gap, you can team up with someone with whom you communicate well and
   who is fluent in the standards organization language. They can speak
   for you in meetings and co-author written contributions with you.

   If you are the rare genius with superb technical, communication, and
   interpersonal skills, you are wasting your time reading this and
   might be able to get away with doing exactly the opposite of some of
   its recommendations. But I wouldn't count on it...

10. Don't Try Too Hard

   Lastly, after you've given it a bit of time and settled into an
   organization, be reasonably assertive but don't be too pushy. And try
   to never lose your temper.

   Unless you are a genius at inter-personal relations, you will not
   gain substantial prominence and influence in a standards organization
   overnight. These things take time and patience.

D. Eastlake 3rd                                                 [Page 7]

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11. Informative References

   [Carnegie] - "How To Win Friends And Influence People", Dale
   Carnegie, 1990, ISBN 0671723650.

   [Farber] - "How to Learn Any Language", Barry Farber, 1991, ISBN

Author's Address

   Donald E. Eastlake 3rd
   Motorola Laboratories
   155 Beaver Street
   Milford, MA 01757 USA

   Telephone:   +1 508-786-7554 (w)
                +1 508-634-2066 (h)
   EMail:       Donald.Eastlake@motorola.com

Expiration and File Name

   This draft expires August 2004.

   Its file name is draft-eastlake-prominence-00.txt.

D. Eastlake 3rd                                                 [Page 8]

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