Aline Carrão 2015 Q&A: General Management

How would you describe your management style? Your communication style?

I have a straightforward approach to both management and communication. I’m very talkative and friendly, but when it’s time to talk shop, I trust people to act professionally and communicate what their needs and concerns are. I do my best to be open and approachable so that people can come forward without fear of negative reactions on my part. I believe in setting clear expectations and timeframes as a way to reduce misinformation and conflicts within larger teams, all the while sharing information and progress as widely as possible. I’m also a fan of promoting dialogue among everyone involved in case of conflicts to find compromises and solutions.

You all described your thoughts on “the key responsibilities of a/the Board” in your manifestos. However, with the exception of the bylaws, which are legally rather than functionally focused, there isn’t a clear publicly available list of the duties and responsibilities of the board. Would you be interested in changing that?

Yes, I believe documenting the board’s role and responsibilities is an crucial first step towards accountability. Once we have these public and clearly stated, we can work towards a more productive board that doesn’t get lost in discussions that shouldn’t fall under their actual responsibilities.

There has been a lot of mention of Board micromanagement and workload. What are two things that you would like to see immediately shifted off of the Board agendas to both decrease micromanagement of the organization and free up Board time for focusing on more strategic issues?

Staff approval: This should be a chair-only task, since chairs are in a better position to know the person who has applied. They are the ones who will work with the new staffer, after all. I don’t believe board approval for each individual staffer is necessary at all.

Conflict resolution: Judging by board’s public minutes, interpersonal conflict resolution takes up an extraordinary amount of board’s time. It’s a subject that shows up repeatedly. We should work to move this outside of board’s purview.

The OTW has now spent over 3 years developing a 3-year strategic plan. This seems extremely long based on practices in other organizations and raises concerns both about the relevance of such a plan due to organizational shifts and, from the outside, raises questions about the ability to find consensus in the organization. What are your thoughts on how long it has taken to develop the strategic plan, and what steps would you take as a Board member to improve or streamline the process of both finishing up the current plan and setting up the development of the next iteration of the strategic plan?

The process behind drawing up the plan was ill-thought-out and this shows in the final draft. The dynamic structure of the OTW’s committees and volunteers makes all the data collected outdated in a really small timeframe. This, alongside with the constant delays in implementation, make the current plan out of sync with OTW reality before its implementation has even begun. There is no visible prioritization among goals that are critical to the OTW’s survival and those that are little more than cosmetic bureaucratic improvements. The sheer number of goals (and Strategic Plan’s own stated goal that they would be happy if we reached 50%) all but guarantees that not all will get accomplished, and the lack of clear priorities means we could well reach the end of this SP period with none of the most important changes achieved.

SP needs to work closely with chairs from the start to assess feasibility and reduce the number of revisions required, allowing for a smaller window between drafting a concise, actionable and targeted Strategic Plan and putting it in practice, as well as simplifying the process. This way, we can have a document that addresses current issues and proposes concrete solutions without creating busywork for already overworked volunteers.