Cor Nouws self nomination for Board of Directors of The Document Foundation

Dear trustees,

I’m happy to stand again for membership of the Board of Directors.

Full name: Cor Nouws,
Affiliations: Collabora, Nou&Off
I will provide information on all future changes in the above as soon as possible.

I have been active in the community since 2004. Besides my activities for my company Nou&Off and, since 2019, also for Collabora, I have done a significant amount of volunteer work in almost all areas of our product and community.
I live in the Netherlands with a wonderful family, lovely activities in music, some sports and many other blessings I may receive.
One of the most interesting and important challenges, lessons, in life is to not let the consequences of our human imperfections damage our relationships and enjoyment of working together.

75 words statement.
I am Cor Nouws and believe we can not only keep our community together, but also show a clear new vision to help us grow, which - looking at all the technical challenges - is really needed. I look forward to making some modest contributions and supporting fellow board members with my experience of the past 4 years.

Looking forward answering any questions.


AFAICT if elected that would be your 4th consecutive term. I note also that during the past term you were part of the board majority (AFAIK never voting against the winning option), yet given your candidacy I assume that you think the “work is not done” and feel you have something more to bring to TDF governance.

  • What are you most proud of to have accomplished during previous term(s)? In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently?
  • Concretely (beyond “supporting fellow board members”), what do you feel a 4th term can bring that the past 3 didn’t?
  • Purely arithmetically the next board seems likely to be split as well. If elected you might, or might not, be in the majority. How do you envision your coming term in a minority position, esp. with regard to past board dynamics you’ve been involved in? If on the other hand you happen to be in the majority opinion, then do you envision your next term differently than the previous one(s)?

I […] believe we can […] show a clear new vision to help us grow, which […] is really needed.

What is the “clear new vision”? 18 months ago (from your own minuting of a meeting with TDF staff) some of us expressed our disappointment that we still didn’t have a new manifesto 2.5y after the previous one expired. I asked about your (both yours personally as well as the BoD’s) vision for the project, and was baffled by the lack of clarity in your reply. Did it gain clarity since then? If so, then again what was blocking you from rolling out that agenda during the past term?

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Hi Guilhem,

Thanks for your questions!

Something as a board majority has never been that interesting: the board has always worked to make decisions in consensus. It is only during the last two board terms, despite IMO endless efforts by the chairs and most directors, that compromising seemed to be no option any more mostly.
Talking about achievements, I think we did a great job in keeping most of the board together, making sure that people could listen and talk respectful in an environment where aggressive and hostile behavior are clearly present.
To me one of the important lessons is, that we must put deadlines, end dates, on first versions of rules, policies and the like, when at the time of the decision it is clear that evolving of the work to a better, more mature version is important.

It is no coincidence of course that I write the following ‘universal’ statement in my nomination:

I’ve written before about the unhealthy situation with few people, in staff and wider community, seemingly stuck in old unhappy feelings to an extend where even talking is avoided. Not only affecting on a personal level, it also makes working together harder - when people that were (almost close) friends in the past are writing now, every sentence is a potential hand-grenade. On community level, unresolved issues create a fertile ground for exploiting by populist agendas.

During the current board term the work to resolve this situation and create an environment that makes it easier to overcome situations of stress and disappointment, to mediate conflicts, started. Such a process, while being urgent after all these years, deserves care and time and therefore is still ongoing.
Apart from that: with most of the directors of the current board not willing to stand again, having some continuity is important, even if every new board will face fresh challenges :wink:

There have been decisions in the past that I consented to, while having expressed ‘quite nuanced positions’ during the preceding discussions. Trying to reach consensus remains important and we will learn soon if the composition of the next board has particular challenges in that regard.

Good question again. The example of LibreOffice online shows that we cannot underestimate the challenges of growing a community that contributes to all parts of the effort. I think that is also since LOOL is (apart from individuals running private servers) of interest for commercially motivated entities. Under the hood of TDF it became something giving rise to divisive discussions rather than a great example of growing a wider contributor base towards a sustainable project.
I do see a clear potential however to attract people and grow funding of development in the vision for a collaborative desktop (as drafted by Simon), allowing all users to be collaborative, independent from hosted services. If one would want to use the terms ‘empowering’ and ‘new chances’ I think that is the right place.

I suggest to look at that issue in a broader context than one meeting, where I’m of course careful against the background of an ongoing discussion in the board. Still, there is an was information and communication. For example the board communicated clearly with the trustees about e.g. strategic goals, ways to engage, the 2 days long face to face meeting in Budapest, that also included a plan to come to an update of the manifesto, outcome of the community survey. What I hope we will be able to achieve together in the next board term, is getting more people moving from being somehow disappointed to actively engaging in running projects and new opportunities. I hope that makes sense.