The IASIG membership is organized into Working Groups based around prominent issues at the time, such as "Downloadable Sounds, "Interactive Composition", etc.
Working Groups are proposed by members who wish to take a leading role in seeing a particular topic discussed and conclusions drawn and published. The IASIG working group is an excellent opportunity for members of various interactive audio industries to accomplish tasks that might otherwise not be possible from within their own domain of control.
Any member who wishes to start a Working Group should review this Sample WG Goals Document and produce one like it for the Steering Committee to review and approve. This is an opportunity for the Steering Committee to suggest changes and offer advice to the potential Working Group Chair. It is also an opportunity for the Steering Committee to inform the member of the Working Group Chairman's Responsibilities.
Once any changes requested by the Steering Committee have been implemented, the Working Group Goals document will be distributed to the General Membership. All interested members may then request to join the Working Group.
If there is sufficient member interest in the group, the Steering Committee will approve the charter and assign a member of the Steering Committee as a representative to work with the Working Group Chair and help manage the effort to completion. If response was not sufficient to convene a Working Group, but the Steering Committee feels that the topic is significant, the Steering Committee may consider alternative actions, such as soliciting formal proposals for discussion or investigating other means for determining consensus on the issue.
Within the limitations and structures defined herein, each working Group will have its own unique character and style of operation. For a discussion of some common Working Group methods see the appropriately titled section below.
Working Group chairs will approve all requests for Working Group membership, keeping in mind that fewer members is likely to be more efficient, yet not wanting to limit the quality and variety of positive contributions. In any case, no request will be unreasonably denied. Administration of all Working Group email lists is handled by a list administrator who will add each member's name to the mailing list reflector for that Working Group.
Working Group Chairs should be IASIG members with a particularly relevant skill set and knowledge base regarding the Working Group's topic. The Working Group Chair is the person who will take personal responsibility for seeing progress made and conclusions generated by the Working Group. Therefore, practical, professional, hands on experience of the topic is required.
The first task (and test) of a potential Working Group Chair is to complete the Working Group Guidelines document. This document outlines the topic, purpose, goals, and schedules of the Working Group. The Guidelines document then serves as the ongoing road map for the activity of the Working Group. It is the Working Group Chair's responsibility to see this Guidelines document turned into a publishable statement of the Working Group findings.
The Working Group Chair is also responsible for keeping track of the schedule outlined in the original Working Group Guidelines document and informing the Steering Committee representative if that schedule needs to be changed. The Working Group Chair's activity is overseen by the assigned representative on the Steering Committee.
The Working Group Chair (or an appointed scribe) must create and continuously edit a document or documents based upon the original Guidelines document that reflect the findings of the Working Group (A Statement Of Findings). In this, the Working Group Chair serves as a filter for all of the information generated by the Working Group. It is the Working Group Chair's responsibility to identify the salient points of an issue, identify the various ideas, camps or proponents, and seek to reach consensus around the most widely acceptable point of view. The procedural details of how this conclusion is to be reached will depend upon the personality and style of the Working Group Chair and the activity level of the membership.
When, in the Working Group Chair's opinion, enough information has been filled into a Statement Of Findings document to warrant publishing, the document should then be sent to Working Group with a call for serious objections, and the Working Group Chair should set a period of time for a response. This period should be no less than two weeks long. At the end of the response period, the Working Group Chair should prepare a formal Statement Of Findings.
Note: Under certain extreme circumstances, such as a deadline for inclusion in a related API or industry wide initiative, the time for response may be set for less than two weeks. In such cases, the Working Group Chair MUST seek and receive the approval of the Steering Committee or an override of such by the IASIG Chairman.
If the Working Group has not reached a specific conclusion, or there are insurmountable objections, it is acceptable and encouraged for the Working Group Chair to create a Statement of Findings that reflects this status, listing the various opinions in a fair, even handed way, yet draws no definitive conclusion.
In any case, serious 'objections' and dissenting opinions need minimally to be included as an appendix in any Statement of Findings (with reference to the person and company affiliation of the objector). Such objections need not appear in any press releases (which need to be clean and concise), but should be included in any reference materials or proceedings which are to be published by the IASIG or MMA.
Working Group Methods
There are a variety of methods for running a successful working group. The following three methods are outlined as reference points. While they are certainly not the only way to generate results, they have proven their worth over the past five years. Other methods may be considered by the IASIG Steering Committee.
1. The Incremental or Step by Step Method
Presuming that the Working Group is a dynamic, active group where members have much to contribute, then it is the Working Group Chair's job to focus this discussion on the issues presented in the Guidelines document. The Working Group Chair (or scribe) should simultaneously fill in data as it surfaces on the questions and issues outlined in the Working Group's Guidelines document.
If there is unanimous (or close to unanimous) agreement on an issue, than the Working Group Chair (or scribe) should write this into the working draft of Statement of Findings document. The Working Group Chair should then move the discussion on to the next issue.
If there are numerous opinions expressed in the group on an issue, the Working Group Chair should set a period of time in which open debate on the issue proceeds. At the end of that period, the Working Group Chair should draft a proposal that outlines what he or she feels is the most workable solution, submit it to the Working Group with a call for serious objections, and set a period of time for a response. The response period should be no less than two weeks, but no more than one month.
As long as there are not overwhelming objections, the content proposal should be written in to the working draft of Statement of Findings document.
In the case of overwhelming objections, the Working Group Chair and the Steering Committee representative will decide upon the best course of action. Such action may include sending the proposal back for more debate, including multiple opinions in the Statement of Findings, or relegating some of the opinions to the objections appendix of the Statement.
This is by far the most desirable method as it is most likely to represent genuine consensus. It is the least likely to be derailed after long debate because strong opposing opinions have been silent during the process.
This is an open ended method where discussion could go on for long periods of time without much forward progress. It also requires a very high level of energy and commitment from a large number of people that is hard to instigate if it does not occur naturally.
2. The D.I.Y. Method
If a Working Group is mostly inactive or or reactive, but opinionated nonetheless, then the Working Group Chairman MUST take it upon themselves to lead the discussion by putting forth specific ideas as to how particular issues should be resolved. The Working Group Chair must then focus the forthcoming discussion on the pros and cons of that particular solution. If it does not meet with general approval, then the Working Group Chairman should either put forth a different idea or enlist another member of the group to draft and put forth a proposal. In either case submission to the Working Group and the call for objections would function as in the Incremental method.
The maverick nature of this method will be kept in check by the Steering Committee representative. Since there is no formal requirement for a final vote it is the responsibility of the Steering Committee representative to be aware of the overall spectrum of opinion in the Working Group and make sure that it is reasonable represented in any Statement of Findings document.
This method is particularly useful when the Working Group is having a hard time presenting solutions or the topic is highly technical, obscure, or new science. It will tend to move things along rather quickly and remain focused.
This method will tend to limit the inclusion of new ideas from the Working Group at large and not result in a distillation of a broad spectrum of ideas. It further runs the risk of having a Working Group Chair monopolize the process to his own advantage.
3. The End Run Method
It is the express goal of this organization to derive and publish standards and recommended practices. If the Working Group is not producing enough data or able to arrive at any form of consensus through the above methods, the Working Group Chair should be encouraged to find an alternate method of developing a standard or recommended practice or disband the Working Group. Alternate methods or Plans will most often involve soliciting outside sources to create a proposal. Plans might include convening an ad-hoc Working Group of manufacturers who are planning to build a particular type of device, or enlisting an expert in the field to work independently of the Working Group to develop a full proposal. In any case, the goal is for the Working Group Chair to assist these outside resources in completing a reasonable and practical proposal.
If an End Run Plan is considered, the Working Group Chair must submit it to the Steering Committee for approval. If approved, the Steering Committee will expect to be kept apprised of activity and status both internal and external of the Working Group process. If a reasonable proposal arises from the Plan, it should be submitted to the Working Group with a call for serious objections, etc (see method 1 above).
This method will almost always yield a proposal of some kind. Narrowing down the list of contributors (perhaps to one person) makes reaching consensus much easier. The proposal is also very likely to be practical because the Working Group Chair has presumably chosen some one (or ones) who have an in-depth understanding of the problem and real world concerns as to how it is solved.
The proposals generated by this method are not as likely to represent a broad spectrum of opinion and could even be subject to self serving, myopic and/or competitive advantage oriented tactics. There is also a good to very good chance that the Working Group will be isolated from the process, which must not be encouraged. The End Run method is, therefore, to be undertaken with caution, with extreme diplomacy or as a last resort.