Daniel Lamson 2015 Q&A: OTW Culture and Communication, Group 1

Note: Dan has withdrawn from the race, but he completed his answers before withdrawing, so they will be posted to the site.

How do you plan to engage staff and volunteers in dialogue regarding Board decisions and the direction of the organization? How about the membership?

I intend to be open and up front, but also friendly. I am really not the kind of person can be intentionally mean or I’d never try to belittle those around me. I would always try to convey quickly and succinctly, but when an explanation is needed I’d give one.

Two examples, I am talking about something board is approving, then the message can be short, ‘thank you for submitting it and it is approved.’ If it is something board has questions about or needs more info about, I would expand the scope of the message to include the ‘what we need,’ and not just say, ‘we didn’t have enough information, so let’s talk about it.’

Sure, there are some things board can’t talk about and it sucks, but confidentiality is important and if legal or our policies says something needs to be confidential then I would not be talking about it.

As to members, I think it is important to be open with them as well. On DevMem, we have been talking for a long time about sending out regular (every other month or quarterly) emails to the membership just to let them know what’s going on with the OTW. Many nonprofits send out emails like this, and it would be nothing intrusive or annoying (hopefully!) but it would allow us to communicate better with the membership about where the org is going. I do not think it would be out of place to ask board to contribute something here regularly, so they can have a more direct line to the members to talk about issues and successes the org has had. I hope this project moves forward with DevMem if I am elected to the board.

Talk about one thing a committee you served with did really well and how this taught you something valuable about collaboration in the OTW.

Last October, I was a pretty new chair of DevMem, my co-chair had just resigned and there was a drive (my first as chair, and second ever) two weeks away. Needless to say I was stressed. DevMem was smaller then, and so we had less people doing the work. It was a pretty crazy time for us, getting all the things ready for it.

We had to coordinate with translation, board, ADT and several other committees to make everything work, and I was kind of lost. I had a great committee, but there was a lot of work that we had to do with other committees that I’d never done before. It was really hard. It was also a bad time for me in my real life job, so it was additionally stressful.

But at the end of the day, the org came together, we got everything we could done and the drive was a huge success. I learned a lot about the OTW that week and how well our volunteers can function together, and how we can get huge things done by working together. These are lessons I use even today as I do org work, so I’m very glad to have learned them.

What are three things you think Board can learn from committees?

I think board can learn from committees, for sure. I think sometimes board is a bit separated from the rest of the org and its committees. Sure, some are in focus with them depending on what’s going on, but on whole, there’s not the same level of communication from board to committees/chairs as there is from committee to committee. I think this could be a good thing to bring the OTW closer together and to have the board more a part of a ‘us’ as opposed to a ‘them.’

What are your thoughts on a more public ‘in person’ presence being established by the Org? How might you see this balanced with the desire and in some cases need for privacy?

Personally, I have no problem mixing my fandom identity with my real life one. But this is not true of everyone. I do not think there should ever be anything that forces the unwilling to ‘out’ themselves.

I do think the in-person stuff has some strong reasons to exist, because can get a lot done together in person. Communication is sometimes easier and faster and being together can bolster productivity, and keep you focused on one task to figure it out faster.

That said, I do not think anyone should be forced to breach someone’s need for privacy. To my knowledge, no one has been forced to go on the retreats or to any other in-person meetings. I would be against anyone trying their fandom/org identity to a real life identity against their will. I believe everyone has the right to privacy—as much or as little as they want. This might mean that someone can’t participate in a certain event, which is a shame, but I respect their choice to protect themselves.