RFC-0248: Problem Statement

RFC-0248: Problem Statement
  • Governance

Adds a problem statement phase to the RFC processes and attempts to streamline the process for authors.

Gerrit change
Date submitted (year-month-day)2024-02-22
Date reviewed (year-month-day)2024-05-03

Problem Statement

Fuchsia RFCs sometimes "stall out" and take a long time to converge, or suffer from disagreement about what problem is being solved. There's a perception from some subteams that the RFC process is very slow. This can take a number of forms, but a common anti-pattern is disagreement late in the process about what problem an RFC is actually solving. RFCs can also stall out when it takes a long time to identify stakeholders, or when CL reviewers are slow to provide feedback. We should provide a streamlined process for time-sensitive RFCs and a path to escalate to the Fuchsia Engineering Council (FEC) when needed.


This RFC makes several changes to the RFC process text. These include:

  • Clarifies the importance of agreeing on a problem.
  • Adds the option to reach out to FEC for a facilitator after identifying a problem but before settling on a specific solution.
  • Clarifies places where authors may choose to start a prototype or leave the RFC process.





FEC members: abarth@google.com, cpu@google.com RFC authors: harshanv@google.com, wittrock@google.com


RFC authors: TODO, identify a few folks familiar with the process


This RFC was discussed in multiple FEC meetings and in a number of information-gathering discussions with RFC authors.


  • The RFC process should "fail fast" and help authors avoid investing a lot of time in the wrong problem.
  • The RFC process should have a clear path to escalate when timely feedback is required.
  • The RFC process should avoid putting undue process burden on authors.
  • The RFC process should encourage authors to test out their ideas and "learn by doing".


See RFC template changes. The proposed RFC process phases are:

  • Step 1: Identify the problem
  • Step 2: Problem statement
  • Step 3: Assign facilitator
  • Step 4: Stakeholder discovery
  • Step 5: Socialization
  • Step 6: Draft and iteration
  • Step 7: Last call
  • Step 8: Submit

For many RFCs the process will look quite similar to before, as authors are already writing up problem statements within their RFC. However, frontloading the problem statement and faciliator assignment allows authors to get help from the FEC early to identify and get feedback from stakeholders. The engineering council can act as a point of escalation for any issues moving through the process.

Authors are encouraged to prototype their ideas throughout the process, and especially before doing a full writeup. This will help prove out ideas and discover additional constraints early on and gives author the opportunity to adjust before a lot of time is invested. Additionally, prototypes decrease the chance that the RFC will require later amendments.


Check in the CL about RFC process changes, and give a tech talk to the Fuchsia team about how to navigate the process.


While this change does introduce additional steps in the RFC process, these steps are typically fairly quick. An author who already has a written-up RFC may choose to "speed run" the early phases of the process in a single day so long as they are confident that their problem statement and solution will not prove controversial with stakeholders.

In the case where one of these steps takes longer (for example, the author identifies a problem but gets feedback that this problem isn't framed correctly), the additional delay adds value by allowing the author to course-correct before investing time in a full writeup of their design.

Backwards Compatibility

Older RFCs do not need to be updated.

Security and privacy considerations

By pushing stakeholder identification earlier in the process, this change should encourage earlier involvement from security and privacy teams when relevant.


All relevant documentation changes are included in the RFC CL. These change the RFC process and the RFC template.

Drawbacks, alternatives, and unknowns

We could leave the RFC process as-is. The current issues with the process would remain in place, but could be mitigated by vigilant FEC involvement.