Chat Transcript with Margaret MacRae and Jessica Steiner – Nov 1, 2014

Trey C

I think we can just get started? People can always come in whenever.

Hi everyone, and welcome to our candidate chats! This is the final one of a series of three, 90-minute-long chats with two of our Board candidates – the candidates present today are Margaret MacRae and Jessica Steiner. The purpose of these is to see how candidates interact, both with each other and the public, and to give OTW volunteers and members a chance to ask questions not already covered in their manifestos, bios, and Q&A, as well as to ask individual questions of specific candidates. If you missed the first two, the transcripts of all three chats will be posted publicly on November 4.

We welcome all questions, subject to the following restrictions:

– Please keep them reasonable and polite (I may declare a question out of bounds if necessary, in order to spend our limited time on questions the candidates can reasonably answer).

– As I said earlier, make sure your question is not a repeat of one already answered in the manifestos (http://transformativeworks.org/news/board-candidate-manifestos-qa-and-chats) or the Q&A (http://transformativeworks.org/news/elections-2014-qa-and-chats). If it’s a follow-up, please say so.

– Specify who your question is for, or if it’s for all candidates.

– Raise your hand to speak, like this: o/. You will be called on when it is your turn to speak. Use /done when you’re finished.

I don’t think I have any questions left over any more, so I’ll go ahead and open the floor.

πŸ˜€

Trey C

Anyone?

Jessica S.

Everyone’s still recovering from Halloween parties

Trey C

Point, Jessica xD.

M. J. MacRae

or halloween party fails

Jessica S.

Yeah, I’m sorry MJ :<

Trey C

Alright, I’ll start us off then. This question is aimed at both candidates.

Jessica S.

I didn’t actually attend a Halloween party but I did have nearly 200 children rob my house of candy

Trey C

(Gah, worst thing about Halloween is all the KIDS)

Anyway, yes. What steps would you plan to undertake as a Board director to foster healthy communications between the Board, OTW committees and workgroups and users or OTW members?

Jessica S.

(It totally cramped our Elementary-watching with pausing every 10 seconds)

I can get this one first, MJ?

M. J. MacRae

cool

Jessica S.

I think a lot of it is somewhat outside of my control.

Jessica S.

But on a personal level, I am making a real commitment to listen to feedback, even if there’s that knee-jerk reaction of like “Oh it’s that person” or “No they’re wrong”

One thing that I really truly believe, and this goes back to my background as a writer, that all concrit had something to it

Even if you disagree, the reason why someone is saying what they’re saying is often valid and can indicate legit problems elsewhere that also should be addressed

(And if this makes no sense, I apologize. I’m not yet caffeinated)

I also want to try to encourage the same attitude in my fellow Board members

Trey C

(You’re good, no worries!)

Jessica S.

Furthermore, I want to spend time with each committee, either on some kind of rotation or whatever, so that people feel comfortable coming to me and so I have some idea of what’s going on directly with committees

And finally I intend to maintain office hours

/done

Trey C

MJ?

M. J. MacRae

First, I plan on continuing office hours. Or I should say I plan on having office hours; I can’t speak for anyone else. Overall, I believe in documenting Board’s actions as much as possible. I know that people will not always check minutes, and emails, but the Board’s actions should be clearly documented

that includes soliciting feedback, and listening to it

Elz

o/

M. J. MacRae

Much like Jess I strongly believe that there is value to all constructive criticism, and I think its really important to understand why someone responds they way that they do to a situation

finally, like Jess I am hoping that I will be able to meet with every committee on a rolling basis so that staffers can put a “face” to my name

/done

Trey C

Thank you both! Elz?

briar_pipe

o/

Elz

this is a very nuts-and-bolts kind of question, but do you think there’s anything practical that could be done to get board meeting minutes posted more quickly? I know they have to be approved, but there’s often important information in those, and not everyone is able to attend the meetings in person /done

SunnyB

o/

M. J. MacRae

I’ll take this one first

Yes! I do. So I want to recruit support staff one of whom will be in charge of taking minutes

ideally that person would take them, immediately after a meeting edit them, send the draft to board for review, board comments and votes over email, and the staffer gets them up on the wiki

I am shooting for a 24 hour turn around

BUT board will have to vote on them within that window to make it happen

M. J. MacRae

(which is somewhat outside of my control, but I plan on asking for us to adopt it as a standard practice)

/done

Jessica S.

^this

No but seriously

I’m personally quite curious if every individual person on the Board really needs to vote on minutes – I’m not certain if it’s a bylaw thing or a practice that’s been adopted? But I think if we can’t get to that 24 hour thing, I would suggest looking at that seriously and seeing if we can do a quorum instead, and put the minutes up anyway

/done

M. J. MacRae

(both a bylaw thing an possible a US legal thing. Legal will need to weigh in

the minutes are legal documents that Board can be held liable for.)

Jessica S.

(Yeah if that’s the case then you can’t do anything, obviously :<)

Other than try to really get a commitment from everyone to look at minutes in a timely fashion

/really done?

M. J. MacRae

I think it is quorum right now? I’ll look after this meeting

quorum should be fine

Jessica S.

Cool

Trey C

Alright, moving on for now, I’m sure that’s something you can keep in mind for later. briar_pipe?

briar_pipe

Thanks, Trey.

My question is for both candidates. First, have you seen the latest Drive information from DevMem and Comms? And if so, does that change any of your thoughts on our financial future, which you posted to the Q&A?

/done

M. J. MacRae

my last convo with dan was at the beginning of the drive, and I have not seen the final numbers. Until we can duplicate it I am hesitant to say this is more than a flash in the pan

and no matter how much we raise at drives, I dislike that our fundraising is limited to a single method. /done

Jessica S.

I’ve been following it generally, and I did see the final total. Obviously it is very exciting to blow through our goal so completely, especially since I know we weren’t sure we’d make it

I am slightly concerned people will take this and sit on their laurels. I understand some people (outside the org) are saying “Oh isn’t this great now you don’t need to do a drive in April” which isn’t realistic

And definitely agreed that we need to figure out what we did right and try to reach a consistent number we can rely on, as well as having more ongoing sources of money we can count on regularly for stability

/done

Trey C

Thanks! SunnyB?

SunnyB

thanks Trey

ok, so I had a question typed out, but I’d first like to ask a follow-up question if allowed re: multiple sources of income

Trey C

That’s fine, you can go ahead.

SunnyB

What do you see as possible alternative sources of income for the OTW, outside of Drives? I believe MJ mentioned grants in her Q&A, any others?

Jessica S.

I know it’s a somewhat fraught conversation, but the merch store would be an example

M. J. MacRae

capital campaigns

Jessica S.

(fraught because I know lots of people want it, but it’s more complicated than it sounds to set up)

/done for me

M. J. MacRae

developing large donors, corporate gifts (this one is fraught with some hard issues)

the merch store is a great idea and one that is not really fundraising to me. Dan can talk about the ton of development tools that we don’t really make use of as an org…yet

M. J. MacRae

(I have an NP 101 on this planned)

/done

Trey C

Awesome. Feel free to ask your original question, SunnyB.

SunnyB

thx for the answers!

ok, pretyped question: My question is to both candidates. Both of you have mentioned (I think even in the earlier chats) the idea of rotating through committees to learn more about them. How do you intend to for this to happen?

where I’m coming from is that the OTW is not like a RL workspace, where you could just walk into the department and by being present soak up what’s happening

how do you intend to “rotate through the committees”?

/done

Jessica S.

This is something that’s being talked about still, as part of replacing the liaison system.

M. J. MacRae

So, another support staffer for board I want to recruit will do calendaring, and essentially would set up meetings for me and then tell me to be there. I know not every committee has meetings like Legal uses a listserve, but the particulars will get ironed out (I am also assuming that these meetings will be scheduled at the committee’s convenience not mine)

Jessica S.

The basic idea is to attend meetings for those committees that do have meetings, not to participate but to just be there and answer questions if necessary and just to see how things are going

For committees that don’t have meetings, we’ll have to get creative.

M. J. MacRae

in a perfect world I would like to meet with each committee once a quarter but that will need to be tested and figured out

Jessica S.

Either way, it’d depend a lot on what the committee can accommodate and what’s practical. So conversations with chairs will be important to figuring it out

/done

M. J. MacRae

like I don’t want to impose to often or ignore anyone at the same time

/done

Trey C

Okay, I think SunnyB was last in line so we’re open now. Would anyone else like to say anything?

Lady Oscar

o/

Trey C

Yay. LO?

Lady Oscar

It sounds like with the support staff (I’m finding that confusing with Support staff ^^; ) taking over administrative functions and Ombuds handling disputes, Board will have more capacity free for other things. Ideally, what would you like those things to be?

/done

M. J. MacRae

First, working with chairs and volcom to get chair succession plans in place (I hate the term admin staff bc irl suit job the admin staff are treated like second class citizens and it drives me batty. They run the fucking courthouse numnuts!)

second, working with devmem to create and implement a development plan

third, working with AD&T and Systems to figure out how/where/when to hire contractors to offer the most assistance

those are the three off the top of my head./done

Jessica S.

First, figuring out what the Board wants to be! And how to make that happen.

M. J. MacRae

(oh thats a really good place to start)

Jessica S.

+1 to what MJ just said

I see the Board’s proper place is ensuring that the overall work of the org is moving us towards our vision, and that the committees are doing the work they should be doing

I don’t mean that in a micromanaging way, but for example, if a chair disappears, then the Board should be responsive in ensuring that the gap is closed as soon as possible

Or if a committee wants to start a new major project and submits a proposal, the Board shouldn’t be so bogged down in admin work and mediating interpersonal disputes that they can’t respond

So I think a lot of this admin staff idea is less about opening the Board up to doing things they aren’t already doing, but giving them time to actually do that important stuff in a timely fashion as well

/done

M. J. MacRae

in a timely fashion!

yes!!! this!!!

/done

Trey C

Thank you both xD. Any other questions?

(We’ll probably wrap at the hour if there aren’t)

Jessica S.

Well if there aren’t questions, I have one for you guys to finish us off

Trey C

Go on, Jess?

Jessica S.

What’s the first concrete thing that you would like MJ and I to do when we start our work on the Board?

M. J. MacRae

(you can include Sole, we will pass it along)

Jessica S.

(Totally XD)

Elz

o/ in answer

Trey C

Go ahead, Elz.

Elz

figure out how we’re spending our money next year in a way that will build trust with donors and encourage them to continue supporting us /done

Trey C

Anyone else?

briar_pipe

o/

Trey C

Yes, briar_pipe?

Eylul D.

o/

briar_pipe

Restructure Board basic task tracking and documentation to be more efficient and consistent, so that Board members are less stressed and more effective. /done

Jessica S.

Amen

Trey C

Eylul?

M. J. MacRae

word

Eylul D.

pace yourself enough that you can stay for full 3-year term. πŸ™‚ (it is good for the org too)/done

Jessica S.

o7

Trey C

That looks like a salute! Was it a raised hand?

Jessica S.

It was a salute XD

Trey C

Oh! That’s pretty cool.

Alright, I think that’s it for the 2014 elections!

Before we finish off, I’m aware there was some frustration with the format of these chats – please feel free to send in any feedback you have (either about the chats specifically or the elections process as a whole) either via our public form: http://transformativeworks.org/contact/elections or directly to elections@transformativeworks.org

Chat Transcript with Soledad Griffin and Margaret MacRae – Oct 31, 2014

briar_pipe

Hi everyone, and welcome to our candidate chats! This is the second of a series of three, 90-minute-long chats with two of our Board candidates – the candidates present today are Soledad Griffin and Margaret MacRae. The purpose of these is to see how candidates interact, both with each other and the public, and to give OTW volunteers and members a chance to ask questions not already covered in their manifestos, bios, and Q&A, as well as to ask individual questions of specific candidates. Please note that the transcripts of these will be posted publicly.

We welcome all questions, subject to the following restrictions:

– Please keep them reasonable and polite (I may declare a question out of bounds if necessary, in order to spend our limited time on questions the candidates can reasonably answer).

– Please make sure your question is not a repeat of one already answered in the manifestos (http://transformativeworks.org/news/board-candidate-manifestos-qa-and-chats) or the Q&A (http://transformativeworks.org/news/elections-2014-qa-and-chats). If it’s a follow-up to any of those, please say so.

– Specify who your question is for, or if it’s for all candidates.

– Raise your hand to speak, like this: o/. You will be called on when it is your turn to speak. Use /done when you’re finished.

I’m going to start us off before opening the floor. This is another question that was sent in during the Q&A but was aimed specifically at Sole:

“In your answers, you said, “While many committees are great places to work, in general, we do not trust each other in the organization.” Can you clarify the meaning of this? What makes you think so? What experiences led you to this understanding? How do you think they might impact your actions as a director?”

Soledad G.

/typing

briar_pipe

ty ^_^

hele

o/ (unrelated, to MJ)

Soledad G.

When I started as a tag-wrangler, the relationship between the staff and the volunteers wasn’t… the best and the root of it was that many wranglers did not trust the staff to have their own best interests at heart. (That wasn’t the case.) When I was in Cat Change, I saw that same fear and it’s a fear that’s specially about the Board not being competent/making bad choices.
Now, this doesn’t mean I believe that we should never question the choices the Board makes, but good faith in our discussions is central and pivotal.

Michelle D.

o/ (unrelated, question for both)

Soledad G.

That’s what I mean by trust – not always agreeing, just believing that every other staffer also believes in this org and what we are doing.
Many times, we believe the worst. And that’s not a productive starting point, at all. So as a Director I will trust you, in the sense that I will belive you’re giving me your honest opinion and that you, in turn, know that I’m here to work honestly. /done

briar_pipe

Thanks, Sole. Hele, you had a question for MJ?

hele

yes!

In question seven, you answered, among other things:

“If it comes down to it, until we can develop new funding sources, the org would need to deliberately slow its growth.”

how do you envision that happening? Because practically speaking I see no way, since even closing account creation would not slow the Archive’s. /done

(which is our bigger expense, I mean)

M. J. MacRae

practically, I think it would be a nightmare and anything that we did could have long term affects that aren’t worth it. If we were close account creation we could lose a huge group of fans who move on to other things. Limiting the amount of space people can use i.e. you can only upload so much data in a certain time would also mean people going to other places

hele

I don’t want to interrupt

briar_pipe

hele, please let MJ finish.

hele

but I think our biggest growth factor is consumer users

briar_pipe

Then I’ll call you for a follow-up.

M. J. MacRae

(still typing I will say done.) Personally, I would like our fundraising to be more prospective than reactive

hele

(it’s not a new question, I’m clarifying a tech detail)

M. J. MacRae

which ideally would avoid an issue with an operating deficit

briar_pipe

(*nods* I’ll call you for a follow-up, I promise)

M. J. MacRae

however, its proven to be hard to predict the rate that the archive will grow, or at least that is my understanding.

I am totally opposed, personally and as a member of the org, to charging for any part of the archive which means that we can’t use price to control growth.

What I said was a worst case situation, but if things were truly dire I would absolutely consider every option that would ensure the org survived./done

briar_pipe

Ok, hele, did you want to ask a follow-up?

hele

(no need for follow up, I just wanted to know if MJ had concrete ideas she was referencing)

briar_pipe

Ah, ok, thanks hele and MJ. ^_^
Michelle, you had a question for both?

Michelle D.

yes, thanks! One of the potential goals for the strategic plan is creating an alliance/coalition with at least 3 orgs. What is one org that you think would be a good fit for an alliance with the OTW? (If no specific org, what kind of org do you think would make a good alliance?)

Renay

o/ (new question for both)

hele

o/ (new question for MJ)

Michelle D.

(sorry, I was done!)

M. J. MacRae

Well shooting for the moon, I would love to work with Google’s Made with Code or Girls who Code

Soledad G.

Personally, I admit I haven’t thought of specific orgs (well, I have been researching local academical groups that might be interesting to work alongside with), but I think that other groups that work with copyright law.

/done

M. J. MacRae

since many fans are young women who are also under represented in tech fields I think that fanworks are a great way to get young women interested in coding

/done

briar_pipe

Thanks, Michelle, MJ, and Sole.
Renay, a question for both?

Renay

What are your thoughts on chair track training, or on other methods you see in the org (or would like to see in the org) to attract volunteer leaders to the OTW? /done

Soledad G.

THAT IT’S THE BEST IDEA EVER.

That’s my reaction as a soon-to-retire chair.

M. J. MacRae

WORD

Should I go into more detail?

Soledad G.

As a soon-to-be Board member, I think it’s incredibly important we do attract people willing to lead to the org.

A lot of chairs are people who *had* to become Chairs and might be more comfortable in other positions. Chairing requires management skills that are not necessarily staff skils. Plus chair training is something we really need /done

Renay

If you have more detail, sure? πŸ™‚ (But it’s fine if not)

M. J. MacRae

because simply put I think that we have to start recruiting specifically for people with management skills or interest in developing management skills and entering management roles. I don’t know what else to say other than I think Volcom knows that I will give them any support they need to make this happen

/done

briar_pipe

Thanks Renay, Sole, and MJ!

hele, you have a question for MJ?

hele

yes! pretyped and everything

This is a short one! In question 6 you said “Of course, it’s impossible to please everybody anytime, or anybody all the time, and I assume that there will be times that the org’s needs will upset individual committees.” Did you have concrete ideas in mind, or was that just a ‘it could happen’? (I literally can’t imagine an idea that would upset a committee, vs individual people in committees, so I would love an example that illustrated the concept)

/done

(pretyped everything but that >_<)

M. J. MacRae

Well, I could seeing a situation where you told a committee, we won’t be able to fund your proposal this quarter because we have decided that buying a new server is the number one priority for the org right now.

(there proposal might be to hire a contract graphic designer which is important)

(wrong there, it was their)

I can also see a committee coming to Board with a great idea that is somewhat outside their purveiw and Board having to say we love this idea, but right now you are understaffed and not fulfilling your duties already

like if SP had said to board we want to do the NP 101 sessions instead of finishing surveying the org, that wouldn’t really work. /done

hele

that makes sense, thanks!

briar_pipe

Thanks, hele and MJ!

Are there any other questions right now?

Michelle D.

o/

briar_pipe

Go ahead, Michelle.

Michelle D.

(thanks!) to both: do you have any goals for your first three months as a Director? /done

M. J. MacRae

not cry? I would like to have support staff in place for Board and have met with each chair

Soledad G.

Retire from I&O in a reasonable manner./done

M. J. MacRae

/done

Soledad G.

Those are great goals. I’m stealing them./done

briar_pipe

^_^

hele

o/ (for MJ)

briar_pipe

Go ahead, hele.

hele

You mentioned in question…

sorry, less prepared now

13Β°

“Personally, I hate that the org talks about things in terms of β€œcan’t, won’t, no!””

As someone who _is_ currently somewhat opposed to some of the Board’s plans, I find that phrasing curious — can you detail where ‘the org’ is opposing stuff like 3yos?

/done

(or, more neutrally phrased: opposed to things unreasonably)

M. J. MacRae

Let me clarify, I didn’t mean we should force consensus or that disagreements are bad

briar_pipe

(Thanks for rephrasing, hele.)

hele

o/ (brief non-question clarification)

M. J. MacRae

I am going to use a irl example here: so my coworker’s 14 yr old daughter wanted to spend Friday night with her friends instead of trick-er-treating with her family even though her dad is leaving on a two week work trip right afterwards.

Instead of fighting her parents, she asked if her friends could join the family, which was a great compromise

hele

o/ (correct that to follow up question, sorry)

M. J. MacRae

I realize that its not always possible to offer solutions, but I really appreciate when someone says “hey thats not going to work for XYZ but if we do ABC instead we will get to the same place.”

Or “I think your ultimate goal is wrong, but if we do this we can accomplish this part of it which is why you want that goal to begin with.”

does that make sense?/done

briar_pipe

hele, go ahead. ^_^

hele

First, to clarify, I didn’t take your answer to mean that disagreements are bad or anything like that! However, it does worry me that you’re qualifying current disagreement like one would qualify a child’s — as being unreasonable.

so I’m not looking for how to would define reasonable disagreement in general

(I think we probably agree in general terms)

but rather, you made assertions about the org as it is

I’m interested in what disagreements you would qualify as unreasonable currently

/done

briar_pipe

(I’ll allow this one, but I do ask that we focus more on questions for the candidates, rather than outright discussion for now.)

(Hopefully there will be opportunities to have full discussions in later contexts.)

hele

(I’m not looking to discuss! Purely informative about MJ’s opinions)

M. J. MacRae

I don’t actually see the issue as disagreements, but a cultural attitude of thinking that things are impossible. I know that at least one of the goals that I suggested at the retreat was shot down because it was going to be hard and a stretch for the org.

I would rather someone come to board with an ambitious proposal then say its impossible to hire the coders that we need because it costs to much.

lets identify the problem, and work together to create a solution instead of starting with “no we can’t do that.”

/done

Renay

o/ (new question for both!)

briar_pipe

Thanks, hele and MJ! Renay, go ahead.

Renay

What specific project management skills will you bring to the organization as part of the Board? Do you have any experience with risk management (either formal or informal)? πŸ™‚ /done

M. J. MacRae

are we talking like legal risk managment?

Soledad G.

(I’m. googling what that means >.<)

M. J. MacRae

i.e accessing the org’s legal liability for certain decisions?

briar_pipe

Renay, if you would like to clarify, please do.

Renay

Sure, sorry. πŸ™‚

Risk management is the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks during the planning stages of a project or initiative.

How things might go wrong — and how we’ll deal with them if they do.

Soledad G.

Ah, okay.

M. J. MacRae

thanks, you say risk management and I am like of course I can access whether a decision opens up to a lawsuit its what I do all day.

Soledad G.

I’d say I have experience with it (informally). In my RL volunteering, we have to reassess whether what we are doing opens us up to new risks all the time.

M. J. MacRae

assess not access

Soledad G.

(Risks that range from ‘kids will be bored’ to ‘this is opens up to lawsuits :D’)

We create new projects all the time and that’s an intengral part of it.

M. J. MacRae

outside of the legal arena, and I really have only dealt with employment law, civil rights, and criminal liability, I understand the concept but its not something I have directly dealt with

Soledad G.

/done

M. J. MacRae

/done
I am not sure that I answered your question?

briar_pipe

Thanks Renay, Sol, and MJ.

Renay

no, it did!
Thank you!

Soledad G.

[For the record, I’m leaving tomorrow for a 10000+ people HUGE EVENT OF HUGENESS. I might not be. at my best.]

briar_pipe

Are there any more questions?
Ok, if no more questions appear in the next minute or so, what I’d like to do is ask each candidate to choose a topic they would like to talk about that either hasn’t been discussed yet or that you have more thoughts on that you weren’t able to express earlier, and tell us about it.
So please be thinking of topics while we wait to see if there are any questions.

M. J. MacRae

I would love to ask anyone who feels up to talking about it, why they think we don’t have more people interested in running for Board?

briar_pipe

Is that a question for the room, or a topic you’d like to talk about yourself?

M. J. MacRae

several people have brought up that our lack of contested elections is less than ideal, which I agree with, but I don’t really have solutions to offer since my mindset clear is “well, I’ll run then.”

Soledad G.

That was my exact reaction lol

M. J. MacRae

As I said in my Q&A I don’t think I am the right person to at least identify the factors that make people hesitant to run. Iam happy to work on fixing those problems though

Soledad G.

Yes, more than… a subject I’d like to talk about I have a few questions I want to ask?

Or rather, i could talk about why questions are the basis of leadership for me.

M. J. MacRae

(mine is really just a topic.)/done

briar_pipe

Ok

Soledad G.

You want to go first, MJ?

briar_pipe

This is kind of flipped from the intent, but it’s a small group, so maybe we could make this work?

Soledad G.

Let’s try, at least πŸ™‚

briar_pipe

MJ or Sole, if you want to ask questions, people could raise their hands to answer?

M. J. MacRae

If no one wants to talk about it I understand, but developing more Board candidates is a longterm goal for me and I really want to know what are the big road blocks right now. So if anyone wants to jump in please do /done

briar_pipe

Is that ok with both of you?

Soledad G.

It’s okay, yep

M. J. MacRae

yes.

briar_pipe

Ok, so MJ has a question about the lack of board candidates. Does anyone want to answer from their own perspective?

Renay

o/

briar_pipe

Renay?

Renay

I’m speaking just for myself here, not my committee (want to be clear!)
But the reason I have not run for Board in the last two years (when I was interested in doing so) is because there was no position description and I had no clue what kind of hourly commitment I was making.
That’s since been fixed, but those PDs are new and haven’t been stress tested
There’s no training at all
There is no hint to how the body handles tasks internally
It’s very opaque about work distribution and task management, and just very very daunting. /done

Soledad G.

You’re making me rconsider, Renay.

Renay

Too late. The only way out is through. πŸ˜›

M. J. MacRae

I am writing a list to start fixing each of these. They are such good issues, Renay

Soledad G.

Yes, it’s so. concrete.

briar_pipe

Thanks, Renay. Does anyone else want to answer MJ’s question?

Jessica S.

/claps

briar_pipe

Ok, Sole or MJ, do you have any other questions you’d like to ask the room?Soledad G.

Hm, yes.
It’s a very simple question, actually. What do you expect Board to do?
/done

briar_pipe

Does anyone want to answer? Feel free to raise your hand.

Renay

o/

briar_pipe

Renay?

Renay

That’s really open-ended! So just some ideas off the top of my head: financial care, spending our money wisely, investing in our future via reserves or actual investments if that is something that’s possible

Michelle D.

o/

Renay

Outreach to other orgs to continue building relationships and partnerships

Investment in organization leadership (chairs, staff) so directors can step back and have more *time* for strategic direction
Also, documentation. Docs for the whole Board! For everything. \o/ /done

briar_pipe

Thanks, Renay. Michelle?

Michelle D.

similar to one of Renay’s points, networking to increase visibility, resources/skills available to the org, and support fans in new ways (if possible!) /done

briar_pipe

Thanks, Michelle.
Does anyone else have an answer for Sole?

briar_pipe
Ok, we have about 5 minutes left. Are there any additional questions for Sole or MJ?
Ok, Sole and MJ, do either of you have further questions for the folks here?

M. J. MacRae

No. I just want to thank everyone for coming
and for letting us turn the tables on them

Soledad G.

Me too. And I’ll warn you that I will keep asking questions. πŸ˜€

Michelle D.

thank you MJ and Sole! and Mei for modding!

briar_pipe

Thanks for coming, everyone!

Renay

Thanks for all your answers! πŸ™‚

briar_pipe

I doubt this is an issue this time, but we’ll be accepting follow-up questions based on anything in this chat for the next hour, via our public form: http://transformativeworks.org/contact/elections

The final chat, with Jessica and MJ, will take place on Saturday at 15:00 UTC: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?iso=20141101T1500

Feel free to hang out here if you like, but I’m going to declare us done 30 seconds early. ^_^

Chat Transcript with Soledad Griffin and Jessica Steiner – Oct 29, 2014

Trey C

Hi everyone, and welcome to our candidate chats! This is the first of a series of three, 90-minute-long chats with two of our Board candidates – the candidates present today are Soledad Griffin and Jessica Steiner. The purpose of these is to see how candidates interact, both with each other and the public, and to give OTW volunteers and members a chance to ask questions not already covered in their manifestos, bios, and Q&A, as well as to ask individual questions of specific candidates. Please note that the transcripts of these will be posted publicly.

We welcome all questions, subject to the following restrictions:

– Please keep them reasonable and polite (I may declare a question out of bounds if necessary, in order to spend our limited time on questions the candidates can reasonably answer).

– Please make sure your question is not a repeat of one already answered in the manifestos (http://transformativeworks.org/news-topic-tags/otw-sections/elections or the Q&A (http://transformativeworks.org/news/board-candidate-manifestos-qa-and-chats). If it’s a follow-up to any of those, please say so.

– Specify who your question is for, or if it’s for all candidates.

– Raise your hand to speak, like this: o/. You will be called on when it is your turn to speak. Use /done when you’re finished.

I’m going to start us off before opening the floor, with a question that came up a couple of times during the Q&A but was aimed specifically at Sole, and so was not included.

Afterwards, anyone can feel free to go ahead.

Your manifesto states that you are also currently chair of Internalization and Outreach. Being a chair is a job which can be just as challenging and time-consuming as being a Board member, even more so for this specific committee, which is in “a very long and occasionally confusing process of re-organization and re-defining its goals and work methods”. How do you realistically plan to fulfill both jobs so that neither of them gets neglected?

Soledad G.

I don’t.

I’ve already started my chair sucession plans.

So the job, currently, is more about training my sucessor and set realistic goals for I&O than about the day-to-day chairing of I&O.

*setting

I plan to stay as a staffer for a while longer, to support my sucessor and the committee.

But in terms of chairing, I don’t plan to fulfill both jobs.

/done

Trey C

Okay, thanks, Sole. Does anyone have a follow-up to that, or would anyone like to ask about something else?

hele

o/

Trey C

hele! Go ahead.

hele

ok! For Jess
you mention in the AO3 question — let me check the number

8) AO3’s continued survival currently depends on a small handful of volunteers…

that one

that you feel that fandom will supply if we lose one of more of our lynchpins there — AD&T has actually recruited relatively recently (unlike, say, the situation with accountants that was discused in one of the SP chats)

why do you think we have been unable to get duplication on those posts anyway?

/done

Trey C

(You can go ahead and answer without the whole o/ thing, Jess)

hele

(one *or* more — sorry for typos)

Jessica S.

I…honestly don’t know. I’m not in a position to know exactly what AD&T has done in terms of recruitment, or where they advertised, or how difficult such positions might be to find

So I’m not really sure how I can answer this question in any intelligent way.

/done

hele

I think it was regular advertisement like other positions in the org

so: the org’s news outlets

thanks, anyway!

Jessica S.

Okay well, I’m sure mumble could probably tell you better than I can

Lady Oscar

o/

matty

o/

hele

(I think mumble sustains that experienced ruby coders are just hard to get ;))

Jessica S.

(I’d buy that)

Trey C

Alright, I think we’ll move on.

LO?

Lady Oscar

I’m not mumble, but am a member of AD&T. I wanted to clarify that yes, we did advertise for experienced Ruby coders and did not get results.

/done

Curtis J.

o/

Trey C

matty?

matty

My question is for both candidates:

There were a few statements posted earlier in the Q&A that showed a lack of understanding in how certain committees work and the problems they face. (this is also something we’ve seen with current board members) This combined with phasing out the liaison roles worries me. Asides from requiring committees submit reports, which frankly never seem to be acknowledged, what measures do you think can Board can take to combat this?

(some examples – board not knowing the differences between support/abuse, or telling people with fanlore issues to contact support via ao3, or not understanding how our servers work and why we need to buy them at certain times, etc) /done

Jessica S.

o/ I can go first if you want?

Trey C

Sure, Jess, go ahead.

Jessica S.

ok, so the issue of not being plugged in with committees as well as we’d like was a long-discussed topic at the retreat that doesn’t have a clear solution as of yet

One of the things that SP found quite clearly in our data gathering was that the liaison system wasn’t working well in most cases and I think that’s generally acknowledged

Part of the hopes of the feedback round is that we’ll be able to generate ideas about good ways of keeping things plugged in – not to phase out liaisoning without a replacement

I agree that the report idea didn’t seem to be working

An idea that was kicked around was some kind of rotating system where the Board members come and visit with all the committees from time to time rather than a single liaison + committee structure

So tl;dr ideas would be great coming from all quarters at this point, and I hope that a great solution will be found soon and included in the strategic plan

/done

Soledad G.

I’ll go now then πŸ™‚

First, I’d like to know if/which mistakes I made in my Q&A if that was at all possible.

Second, I don’t think the liaisoning system was working. If the lack of understanding was happening even now, then it’s not the answer.

I admit that I don’t have an idea because the obvious one (reports), as you mentioned, isn’t working either.

TBH, from my personal stand-point, there is little Board can do but to ask honest questions about what committees need and how they work. There are entire areas of the org I know very little about.

/done

Jessica S.

(Also yes, please tell me if I messed something up, too!)

Lady Oscar

o/

Trey C

Alright. I think we can just treat matty’s point as a general observation and move on from this one? Curtis, you can go ahead.

Lady Oscar

nm

Trey C

(Curtis, can you confirm if you’re still typing?)

Lady Oscar

I’ll re-raise o/

Curtis J.

One issue that has been cited over the past couple of years in public spaces regarding the org is volunteer burnout and retention. Do you see this as an issue from within the org, and, if so, what steps do you think should be taken to address it? (Sorry side issue came up.)

Trey C

No worries! /done?

Curtis J.

/done

Soledad G.

I can go first this round πŸ™‚

Jessica S.

By all means XD

Soledad G.

I’m currently chairing a two people committee

(Well, me, a staffer and a Boar dmember.)

So it is an issue for me.

Leaving aside I&O’s… particular situation, it’s a problem across the org. For example, see the problems LO mentioned about recruiting coders with Ruby on Rails experience.

There are several factors that I think impact in the situation. One is the stressful idea that nobody else can do the work we do. That kind of pressure worsens over time and people leave because they must and not because they. want.

Volunteers will retire over time – that is a reality. The problem is that the org runs through people at a fast rate.

There’s also the problem of the org atmosphere. It can harsh and unforgiving, people’s work may not be respected.

So, as Board, I think one of the steps we can take is to focus on duplicating and documenting roles.

The problem with the org atmosphere is more vague, but I think it’s important to listen to staffers and volunteers to identify specific problems. And it’s important for us to ask questions, even questions that seem obvious. /done

Jessica S.

Man, Sole totally said everything that I was going to say

I know I talked a lot about self-care in my Q&A answers but I think it’s really important that we all be in a position to feel like we can take time off if we need to. Otherwise, like Sole said, you’ll wind up flaming out by necessity and then there’s a hole left

I think succession planning is really key, and that includes key positions other than chairs. Having someone as a backup so you can take time off is so important

And I’m probably going to gush about SP a lot tonight, but oh well.

But one of the things that I think has made us successful is that we all back each other up and even though two of us decided to jump ship to the board it won’t cause a ripple

hele

(o/ follow up to this)

Jessica S.

And I’m rambling repeating what Sole said, so /done

briar_pipe

o/

Jessica S.

Oh sorry, can I add to my answer?

I just remembered something else I was going to say

Trey C

Sure!

Jessica S.

I think we also need to recognize that volunteers are not always going to stick around in as many numbers as we’d like. People will fall away because there’s nothing really keeping them here but their passion and desire to be here

So just because people leave doesn’t always mean there’s something wrong

But if we forget this, then we’ll drive people away by mistreating them

/really done

Trey C

Alright, we’ll go to hele’s follow-up first so we can wrap this up, and then get back to LO. hele?

hele

yes! OK, actually, related to Jessica’s last point!

do you think getting duplication will be harder for some posts than for others? Because, while I feel I can totally document my posts in the org so that someone with reasonable will and desire to do so can do my work, james documenting his wouldn’t really mean anyone can go in adn sysadmin, in my view. /done

Jessica S.

Oh, for sure. Yeah, naturally it’ll be harder.

Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be persistent in trying, though, and have that as a goal until it’s achieved.

/done

Soledad G.

I agree, hele.

hele

makes sense, Jess!

Soledad G.
And also – evey sysadmin post has its quirks. If somebody else was going to work with/instead of james, they’d need that info /done

hele

(of course!)

Trey C

Okay! Moving on then, LO?

Lady Oscar

Sorry, my question is also partially a followup.

Trey C

That’s okay xD.

Lady Oscar

First, yes, I totally agree that we will always have attrition and need to recruit to make up for that. And I think hele’s point that having extra people-power isn’t a solution for some posts.

One thing that has bothered me with Board over the time I’ve been here is that there haven’t been a lot of AO3-committee people on it. Given the failure of the liaisoning system, I feel that’s a strong concern.

And that has led, I feel to the fact that the concern that volunteers leave because their work is not respected to mainly come down to volunteers not having their work respected _by our Board_.

At least in my experience, our fellow committees may have communications issues (which I feel are definitely improving!) but the main friction is the concern that Board don’t understand the concerns, goals, and skills of the AO3 committees.

I’d like to hear thoughts from the candidates on those subjects.

/done, and sorry for being wordy ^^;

Soledad G.

I can go first.

Jessica S.

Go for it :3

Soledad G.

First, I *am* a AO3-committee person. Yes, I’ve spent the last year mostly in I&O, but most of my OTW work has been AO3-related.

I respect the work you do and understand the basics. Except for coding, which is really not my expertise at all.

Second, and more importantly, I do not claim to know *everything* about the work you do. I said it already, but I’m going to ask questions. It’s impossible to expect that the Board will know everything about everything when they start out.

But it’s also important to say that, currently, there are no Fanlore people either.

That does not mean we cannot grasp what Fanlore needs or wants. I can always ask.

Lady Oscar

follwup o/

Soledad G.

/done

Lady Oscar
er +o

Jessica S.

Should I do my answer first or LO’s follow up?

Lady Oscar

go ahead

Trey C

You go ahead, Jessica.

Jessica S.

OK

So I guess my first thought when you were asking your question is that if there aren’t enough AO3 people on the Board it’s because none have stepped up to do it, which is sort of obvious and not very helpful I know :/

I can certainly say for myself that I came to the org exclusively through AO3. I literally did not know about any of the other org projects until I joined SP

I have a lot of respect for what each and every person does, and feel that every one of our committees are doing something very important

But talk is cheap and I can say that. I can only say that I intend that my behaviour over the next few years will bear that out and I hope that if I ever seem to act with disrespect towards the work that someone is doing that someone will let me know so I can correct it.

And I feel that every other Board member should feel the same way. And indeed, every other person in the org.

/done

hele

o/ (non follow up, so I believe after Mei sometime!)

briar_pipe

o/ (mine was actually a follow-up to Curtis)

Michelle D.

o/

Curtis J.

o/

Alison Watson

o/ (not follow up)

Trey C

LO, you can go ahead but I’m going to interrupt here with a tiny request to re-focus questions so they are actual questions, because your original one was very open-ended, and the point of these chats is to try to get to know candidates.

And then we’ll move to briar_pipe.

Lady Oscar

Er…I’m not sure what to do with that?

I kind of thought something open-ended that let people talk would let us get to know people?

If you don’t want me to address the issue of attrition and why there aren’t more AO3 people volunteering to join Board, we can move on.

Trey C

That was a ‘go ahead with your follow-up’, with a general point to everyone here.

Lady Oscar

No, go ahead, I’m not sure I understand the distinction.

Trey C

LO? I can move on if you’d like.

Alright, I’ll sit down with you later. briar_pipe?

briar_pipe

Thanks!

To build on Curtis’s question about turnover: I’d like to ask about staff training, as separate from documentation (skills, not knowledge base).

Do you have any ideas for developing our training systems as an org to improve staff retention and quality of work, and more specifically for the Board itself? And as a follow-up, how do you plan to approach your own training, after you join the Board? /done

Jessica S.

My turn to go first I think

Firstly, ideas about developing our training systems as an org

I am a huge supporter of mentorship and cross-training.

I know that training can sometimes seem like the last priority when there are fires everywhere, but I do feel that we need to be greater emphasis on training from the very moment a new person is inducted

I know that Volcom is working on some awesome stuff that I’m so excited to see be developed.

I’m also super excited about ideas being tossed around about a Board track, where people who would potentially be interested in someday joining the Board could take part in directed skill development and learn about the org as well, so that when and if they choose to take that leap

They actually would already have the skills and knowledge needed.

These are things that I hope to be directly involved in developing as time goes on

Secondly, about my own training, I’m thankful that I have a decent knowledge base about the org generally because of SP

My plan over the next 3 months and beyond is to lean hugely on the existing board members for mentorship and guidance, as well as make specific effort to familiarize myself even more with the org by attending more chats, trawlign the wiki more and just basically paying a lot of attention

I’m sure that once I actually begin Board work, the learning curve will be steep, and I’m prepared for that /done

Soledad G.

Well, we keep agreeing, Jess. Regarding my own training, I do plan to read all the documentation, read all the chat transcripts and just listen in general at first.

I am lucky that my RL background has trained me in some skills I believe are mega important for a Board member (ie., how to listen, how to build consensus, how to manage my stress.)

In terms of general training, it’s one of the areas where I will rely on the experts here and listen to VolComm. (I actually manage and help train volunteers in RL, but it’s a totally different context.) But mentoring is central! /done

Trey C

Alright. I think hele was next? We only have about 7 minutes left, so hele will probably be last. πŸ™

hele

I’ll try to be quick!

a question just for Jess

you said:

Some of the reasons for that lack of trust are historical, and some of it is due to the reality that there really is nothing about the process of selecting Board members that ensures that they’re any more qualified to make such decisions than anyone else in the org.

do you think that all actions that led to that lack of trust are historical?

/done

(by historical I mean ‘done by board members that are no longer on the Board)

Jessica S.

(h/o I’m just quickly refreshing myself on the context. What was the number of that question, hele?)

hele

let me find it one sec

Jessica S.

nm I found it

hele

12Βͺ
ahh, too late, the story of my life πŸ˜›

Jessica S.

Haha, no worries

No, I don’t think all actions that have shaken trust in the Board have been taken by Board members who are no longer on the Board.

/done

Trey C

Okay, I think we’ll wrap up now so we don’t finish late. Sorry, Michelle, Curtis and Alison! We’ll be accepting follow-up questions based on anything in this chat for the next hour, via our public form: http://transformativeworks.org/contact/elections

Feel free to send them in, or attend one of the next two at these times: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?iso=20141031T0001 and http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?iso=20141101T1500

Thanks for turning up, everyone! πŸ˜€ We hope to see you again next time.

Soledad Griffin – Elections Q&A (Part 5)

16) How would you respond if you saw a fellow director speaking harshly to a volunteer in a public chat?

I believe the best course of action when the tone of the discussion is veering towards the aggressive is to first steer the conversation to a more productive subject and diffuse the conflict, independent of who is being harsh. When it is another Board member, there should be an apology on behalf of the Board and then a private discussion with the director. I would not chastise another director in front of staffers, volunteers, or the general public because it might do more harm than do. The Board is a collection of individuals, but it should act as one body in public.

This is what I hope would happen if I were to act aggressively or lose sight of my position as Board director, as well. We all lose control of our emotions sometimes, and it is important to take responsibility for that and to be held accountable.

17) It’s been shared by past Directors that Board work is both incredibly time-consuming and stressful and this can sometimes bring out “the worst” in people and can lead to negative interactions within the organization that have a lasting impact. From your outside observations so far, what difficulties have you noticed? Do you have any ideas for how to combat this issue that you will try to implement either for yourself or others during your Board service and how might you encourage self-care for yourself, your fellow Directors, and OTW personnel at-large?

One of the things I noticed is a vicious circle – previous negative interactions with the Board as an entity means there’s a general distrust and lack of faith in it, aside from specific problems with the current Board make-up. It is also easy to tell when a Board member is stressed out and lashing out, losing patience more easily. The tenor of the conversations between the Board and the staffers can become very combative.

Another thing I have noticed is that the expectations for the Board are very muddled and alternately sky-high or non-existent. There are also many assumptions (by the Board and about the Board) that complicate the situation even further.

From an organizational standpoint, I would strive to make staffers and volunteers more comfortable with me by listening to them and asking honest questions to understand their point of view. Thanks to my meatspace volunteering background and my work in the org, I have a lot of experience in managing difficult conversations that have become very sensitive over time. With the combined power of open, honest conversations and more concrete actions in my Board work, I would hope that there would be more faith in what the Board can do in the future.

There are several key factors to avoiding burnout. The first one would be that volunteers and staffers feel capable and trained for the job they are doing, and that they also feel an ownership towards that work. Committed volunteers are responsible volunteers, after all. But the Board should make sure that work is recognised and that ownership is not only a feeling, but a reality. We all build this org together, after all.

But it is also important to take care of each other. One thing I have seen repeatedly in this org is a sense that, if you do not your job, nobody else will. That stress of having no backup can and often does lead to burnout. Knowing when to rest and when to walk away are important traits in a volunteer. The Board should try to stamp out this problem, ensuring that nobody is irreplaceable. Saying that may sound cruel, but we should be able to leave this org feeling that it will go on and be great without us, rather than leave because we believe it is a sinking ship.

18) How do you plan to avoid burnout as a director?

To continue with my reasoning from the previous question, my really honest and quite terrible answer to this is that I know when to walk away. I love this org, and it has actually been rewarding to me over the years, but if it is better for me and for the org that I walk away, I will do so. I feel no guilt regarding this, and I have no delusion that I am indeed so great it will fall if I leave. However, I am a hard worker with ideas and relevant experience, so I hope I would make a good director.

My just as honest but less terrible answer is that I am used to stress in this organization. I know my limits because I learnt them by trial and error. I can recognise when I need to rest and when I need to delegate responsibility.

back to the candidate | Q&A: 1 2 3 4 5

Soledad Griffin – Elections Q&A (Part 4)

12) There has been a lot of discussion and confusion both within and outside the OTW related to the concept of ‘transparency’ and what that means in relation to the work of the Board and the work of the organization as a whole. How would you define transparency in these contexts and what steps would you take both to ensure everyone is clear on what transparency means and to hold the Board and the organization accountable to that definition?

In terms of the Board and transparency, I would define it as decision making being as public as possible, when this does not interfere with confidential matters. The Board has a duty to make sure that the reasoning behind their decisions and the process that led to them is clear and public (even if it is after the fact and not during the decision-making process itself). The main challenge is making this information not just easily available, but also easy to understand.

In terms of the organization as a whole, there are more confidentiality conflicts that could arise, but whatever part of each committee’s work can be public and publicized should be.

The problem is that, many times, information that is already publicly available is either hard to find, not advertised, or difficult to understand for people who are not volunteers in the org. One of the steps I would take is to assess more ways to advertise what already is public and to develop guidelines to make sure we remember that what makes sense in an org context may not make much sense for the public.

13) The OTW has had issues with regards to clashing perceptions of authority and hierarchy between the Board and committees. Staffers and volunteers vocally resist both steps that are perceived as attempts to verticalize the org’s structure and any Board decisions that are understood as top-down orders. What is your perspective on this issue?

I do not want an org where the Board imposes their will on the rest of the volunteers and where there is no consensus or acceptance of the Board’s decisions, because conflict is not conducive to efficiency – it’s conducive to burnout.

But the organization has changed, and horizontality has its costs too. There are more than 400 people in the org now. How can we be sure everybody makes their voice heard and not only the loudest? How can we avoid the pitfalls of having no structure? For example, if committees have an absolute right to decide on their purview – what happens when they make a decision the rest of the org disagrees with? ‘Staffers and volunteers’ is not a monolith, no more than the Board is.

Basically, I believe that neither position is productive. The Board has a duty to make sure the reasons for their decisions are understood and that feedback is sought before making them, but the Board’s job is still to make those decisions.

14) How do you see your role on the Board in relation to OTW staffers and volunteers and OTW members? How do you plan to reconcile different staffers’ visions for the org? How do you think a Board member should act when staffers disagree with decisions that are under Board purview?

The Board should work as a representative and governing body, that works by seeking consensus and compromise. Board members should be open to changing their minds and open about receiving criticism and feedback. The Board should seek feedback as often as they possibly can.

Conflicts regarding the priorities of the org and just general Board decisions are bound to arise, but my plan would be, simply, to first and foremost explain my own reasoning behind my decisions and then listen to others’, trying to find where the disagreement stems from. Once that is done, my answer would be to find common ground and adjust my position to accommodate those objections if it is at all possible. However, some disagreements are simply impossible to solve. A Board member should not become angry at staffers who disagree, but it is important to note that, as the question itself stated, staffers themselves have differing views of the org – every decision will anger somebody.

15) What do you think are the unique challenges in interacting with a staff comprised entirely of volunteers as opposed to paid staff? How do you plan to navigate this?

The main and unique challenge of a fully volunteer workforce is the fact that people will leave if the org isn’t a good fit for them. If they do not see the results of their work or if that work is not recognised, for example, they will feel disatisfied and likely leave. If the org’s atmosphere is hostile or uncomfortable, there will be more burnout as well. So the Board’s role, in regards to this, is to take steps towards improving our efficiency and recognising and facilitating the work that our volunteers do. The Board should also work to fix the org’s general atmosphere.

Another issue is that, even in the best of situations, volunteers leave on a more consistent basis – and more suddenly – than paid employees. It’s important to document how we work so that people can pick up where the previous volunteer left off, and it’s important to solve the issue of people simply vanishing, which happens a lot in the org.

back to the candidate | Q&A: 1 2 3 4 5

Soledad Griffin – Elections Q&A (Part 3)

9) All candidates’ manifestos mention the rapid growth of the OTW, and therefore the need to grow a better internal infrastructure. What kind of infrastructure are you aiming for? In addition to that, what do you think should be the future role of the OTW Board? Advisory? Executive? Something else?

Rather than growing a new structure, I believe we should clarify the structure we already have and correct some issues with it. We need to delineate official, clear, concrete communication lines. Information loss is an issue, even when committees are good at documentation (and the OTW, as a whole, is not good at documentation). The OTW, in many respects, still works like an organization that has a quarter of the volunteers we actually have.

From experience, a part of that infraestructure we need – infrastructure in a wide sense – is better training and mentoring for chairs so that they can better support their committees. We have some rather amazing chairs and chairs that are great at training and mentoring, but this is not official and more importantly, it is not codified. It leaves training up to chance.

It might be a more controversial point, but in order to do this, we should clarify what the Board’s role actually is. Personally, I do not think Board should be doing much executive work on a detailed level, but characterizing the Board as ‘advisory’ is not something I am convinced of either. The Board should be a guiding voice in the org, deciding on the org’s priorities and goals, instead of an advisor.

10) If it were up to you alone, what steps and structural changes would you suggest to transition the Board out of doing day-to-day work?

I have mentioned some of them in the previous question. One of the most time consuming aspects of Board work is liasioning. Better communication and less information loss would mean that there would be absolutely no need to do that sort of close monitoring of committees – which many times does not get the desired results, after all. The clarification of the Board’s purview is another step that needs to be taken, as well as documenting the procedures (which has been a goal for several years already). Better support for chairs and committees in generals means that the organization would be working better, with no committees in critical condition.

11) If you could make one concrete change in the OTW tomorrow, what would you do?

I would pick a nice shade of purple for our colour scheme instead of the current one because I believe it’s a prettier colour.

My more serious answer is that the changes we need to see are not so concrete. There are changes and goals that I would like to see accomplished in a magical way that range from standard documentation across the org or having a pre-approved yearly budgets to a clearer procedure for important org-wide decisions. But more importantly, all these changes would be in the service of a bigger, less concrete and admittedly far more vague one – that is, a deep change in org culture. Or rather, the org admitting that many things have changed and making those changes explicit. We need to let go of certain ideas – that, for example, structurelessness is good or that this is primarily a fandom spaces doing things the fandom way – in order to move forward.

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