astolat (astolat) wrote,

ideas for the coming term

Hey guys, alas RL intervened and in the end I wasn't able to make today's candidate chat. I'll be putting together answers to the questions asked there shortly, but in the meantime I thought I would share a few thoughts I had been hoping to toss out in the chat, to make up for not being there.

One technical question that a few people have asked me: it's fine to link to my OTW posts in my fannish lj with my rl name. I put it as the journal-of-reference on the elections site because that's where my OTW self lives and all my historical posts about the org, and while I do prefer to keep my RL and fannish spaces separate, I am fortunate that this is for my comfort rather than my safety, and I care more about sharing the backstory and preserving info for the sake of transparency than I do about that. If you happen to think of it, you can just link using Naomi N and that will cut down on the googleability, but don't stress it, as nothing bad is going to happen to me other than someone coming to my lj to demand why I am writing archive code or Thor fic instead of next book. *sneaks guilty look over shoulder*

Apart from that, I have always felt that elections are awesome for spurring us to consider new ideas, and in response to some of the discussions I've seen online, I've been asking myself more about what I'd really like to see the OTW doing new/differently in the next few years, and have come up with some more specific ideas on top of the making the internal wiki public idea I talked about in my last post.

To add a little more about the internal wiki: making it public would require a big initial effort to move things that are confidential out into our other tools like Basecamp, and then a conscious push in the org to encourage people to keep using the internal wiki for anything that didn't clearly have to be kept confidential, without having committees get gun-shy about sharing their messy internal workings out there for everyone to see. (We'd also have to go over the change with each committee and find solutions for any issues it might cause them.)

As one general example of ways to address that concern I'm thinking we might ideally set up something like a popup when a user who's not logged in comes to the site saying, "This is an internal tool and may be messy, incomplete, out of date, and include random brainstorming by anyone in the org from Board members to brand-new volunteers. Your input and feedback on anything you see here is welcome to the relevant committees and/or to our Communications team, but please don't get either too excited or too angry about anything you find, because that understanding is what we need in order to keep this kind of information out in the open." And then I think people will get that if given that context.

Also I've been doing a bunch of reading via links people sent me about effective team management after my post the other day, and I have thought of a few additional specific things that we could add to our org procedures that would hopefully be improvements and not problematic workload-wise:

** weekly 1:1 meetings (I have been sold by google's Oxygen project. *g*) -- in the case of the org, between board liaison and the chairs they liaise with, between chairs and their committee members (and possibly between committee members and volunteers? that level would be trickier because not all committee members necessarily are up for managing, some committees have loads of volunteers, etc -- so I might start with the first two levels and then go from there). For practical reasons, I don't think we'd mandate anything heavy-duty -- I am thinking just, ask people to make sure they have everyone they should 1:1 with on their chat program of choice, and msg back and forth privately at least once a week.

** message from the Board: a once a month report (Board members could rotate the job of drafting it so not a big added burden) emailed to all volunteers (and members? if we could let members opt-out?) of the org, summing up what's going on in the org, where things are at in various committees, and including at the end the current contact info for all board members and chairs (so if any volunteer wants to reach a chair or board member, they never have to look further than digging back through their email a bit, and gets a regular bit of encouragement to go ahead and reach out).

I also think this would be a really good framework to help the Board to do more (and more meaningful) giving of kudos within the org -- using the monthly message to list volunteers by name from all over the org who've done something particularly cool that month would not just feel more awesome for the person who gets the kudos, but their teammates as well, and also help people feel like they recognize other people in the org and know what they are working on.

Plus I think this would actually also be a really good thing for the Board itself -- Maia came up with celebrating our achievements as a thing to do in ADT meetings, as a way to end, and I think having the Board collect and celebrate org achievements themselves at each meeting to go into the monthly report would be a good way to help make Board meetings end on a positive note.

** associated with these two: I'd also like to cut down our internal gatekeeping procedures some more within the org, to empower people who want to get stuff done, have the time and the skills, but are unsure about what they're allowed to do. I'm thinking something like, if you want to do something, contact the relevant committee, if you don't hear objections in 3 days go for it assuming it's something you can do (i.e. have access for), and if you don't have access feel free to nudge again, or nudge upwards to a board member. And the regular message with contact info could include a copy of this policy & encourage people to do this . (I hasten to add, with caveats obviously to understand if the committee is already working on something like this, or other things that prevent them from helping or granting access, with respect for other volunteers' time, etc). Just generally reducing the amount of gatekeeping procedure in the way of work getting done, and also encouraging more flow of communication and ideas internally.

And something fun to end with!

I would really love to see us put on an OTW Con in a couple years. I'm lucky enough to live geographically close to a lot of fellow fen, and in a city a lot of people swing by to visit, and those meetings and visits are often amazing for generating energy and new projects. I think it would be great to arrange a con that could provide that experience for many other people, and hopefully benefit the org, and serve a mission of outreach -- something halfway between a fannish con and a professional conference with a masquerade and a vid dance party too. :D

Because we are distributed, one location would be tough, but I am thinking maybe we could do it as a con-in-parallel: a bunch of smaller conventions connected virtually in some way, but with the freedom for each one to adjust its programming and space to meet their needs. And maybe some kind of exchange between those, where we send say one organizer from each con to one of the other OTW cons for the actual event, to be a liaison and strengthen the networking. (ie con A sends someone to con B who sends someone to con C etc)

Anyway this one is a blue-sky idea and still very hazy in case you can't tell, but I think something we could do; there's a bunch of experience in fandom with putting on cons and in the org with having virtual meetings that we could marshal effectively for this, and it doesn't have to cost a ton to put on.

And I will get my answers in to the questions asked in chat as quickly as I can -- RL and the big deploy we're working on are eating my head right now so if I don't get them in in the 24-hour window I hope you guys will understand, and I'll post a link here when I do. :) And do feel free to also hit me with other questions as well.

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Tags: ao3, otw

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