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[802SEC] Report of the dominance ad hoc


I have attached the notes from the dominance ad hoc meeting on Wednesday at the July plenary.

I also met with the 802.11 leadership Thursday evening and gave a brief presentation to 802.11 on Friday.

I want to pass on some thoughts I had after the meetings Tuesday and Thursday. This was incorporated into my talk to 802.11 on Friday.

Anytime we have a controversial topic that gets an approve vote, there is support by more than 75% of those present. There is almost always some way one can draw a line around most of that 75% and say it represents dominance by some interest category - especially if you are willing to define the interest category broadly - e.g. all those who support proposal X over proposal Y.

And anytime we are not able to get an approve vote, there is opposition by more than 25% of those present. It is even easier to draw a line around most of them and say they form an interest category.

The IEEE and ANSI definitions of dominance include "to the exclusion of fair and equitable consideration of other viewpoints" but usually when we get embroiled in disputes, the losing side doesn't feel it got fair and equitable consideration. That doesn't help much to clarify.

Rather than steping into a witchhunt for dominance, it is often best to take a deep calming breath and ask different questions. Instead of asking "Is this dominance?", try "Why don't we agree?", "Is there a direction better for all of us?"

For example, when working on IEEE P802.3ap Backplane Ethernet, there were two competing proposals for the auto-negotiation part of the standard. The September 04 meeting (the agreed upon date for feature selection) came and one of the proposals won the vote by a little over 75%, but those on the other side had significant concerns. Rather than focusing on the how of the decision (was there dominance) we focused on the why (why did people prefer that solution). Based on that analysis, a proposal was developed that had the best characteristics of both proposals - it was presented at the November 04 meeting and there was general interest but people wanted time to review the proposal. At the January 05 meeting, the vote to approve the proposal was 100%.

When I spoke to Tony Jeffery later, he had another example - perhaps he can fill in the details. In 802.1Q, there was an intense debate on whether address learning should be shared across the VLANS, SVL, or independent per VLAN, IVL. There was more support for IVL, but in the end they decided to allow both in the standard.

We need to give people the tools to address dominance when the system breaks down, heated disagreement breeds distrust on both sides and cooler heads fail to prevail, but we should also remind our members that the process works best when we keep an open mind and are willing to explore alternatives.


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Attachment: Dominance notes_July2008.docx
Description: Dominance notes_July2008.docx