[Note: Candidates were limited to 300 words for each answer.]
What do you believe are the 2 most important tasks the OTW has accomplished in the past two years? Why?
The OTW has done some tremendous work in the past two years, but the first thing that stands out for me is the rebuilding of the Finance committee. The Organization’s financial structure was in disarray back in 2015, with our entire finances resting on the shoulders of a single person. The rebirth of Finance has changed the OTW for the better, both from an external and an internal point of view. The new Finance committee members have done a fantastic job at streamlining our internal processes for payment requests, and spent countless hours putting together a coherent, up-to-date record of our expenses and income. It has been a revolution that will make it easier for us all to achieve our goals in the coming years, by facilitating our committees’ access to tools and resources.
To me, the second core task that the OTW has accomplished in the past two years is mending the relationship between Board and the rest of the organization. There is still work to be done for our structure to be perfectly well-oiled, but we are now able to communicate together assuming good faith. This has allowed many committees to move forward with long-standing tasks, and enabled some others to get the help they needed to get back on their feet. It made it possible for us to start thinking forward without constantly wondering if the lights would stay on on a daily basis.
Name one way that you think the OTW needs to change in the next few years. Why is this change important for the organization?
I believe that the best thing that could happen to the OTW would be for its committees to start working more laterally. We have seen some great solo work, but we still struggle with cross-committee cooperation. Many of our more ambitious goals require some degree of involvement from several branches of the organization, and some of our dream projects, such as translating AO3’s interface, would necessitate large-scale work from several committees.
The move to a new discussion platform helped us bridge the divide between committees to some extent, but we still need to find more ways to bring our various branches closer together. Currently, most of our cross-committee interactions happen in a casual context. We would benefit from cultivating these networks in professional settings by encouraging our members to engage in more cooperative work. Any step in this direction will require each committee to clearly outline their needs and constraints: to ensure a sense of reciprocity, any partnership has to integrate every relevant committee’s limitations and objectives. I believe that Board needs to contribute to this process by helping committees identify and document their strengths and weaknesses. It also needs to be able to connect them with each other whenever an opportunity to do so presents itself.
In any case, before such a change can occur, we need to increase our general org-literacy, and organizational flexibility: it is hard to even begin to think about leading cross-committee projects when we all use very different tools, and are never quite sure of what other committees are doing. Making the OTW more collaborative will be challenging, as each committee has its own culture and environment, but it would only make us stronger in the long run.