Katarina Harju 2015 Q&A: General Management

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

I tend to assume that the people I’m managing know how to do their job, and that they will ask for help if they need it. Of course it’s still my job to notice if someone is struggling and to remind everyone that they can and should ask for help.

My communication style tends to often be short and to the point. I know that while I see it as efficient, in other cultures this can be perceived as terse, which is why when communicating in English I have always paid attention to not sacrifice politeness for the sake of brevity.

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 think it is extremely important to have documentation that clearly states the duties and responsibilities of the Board. It would make it easier for Board members to do their work, and for everyone else to interact with Board members if everyone had a clear understanding of what the duties of Board members were.

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?

I don’t have an answer to this questions, because I don’t know what items would be on the Board agenda, or in fact if the Board has any clear agenda or idea of what its responsibilities are. In fact, I’m not even certain of what the current Board does with all the time its members claim to use for their work in the OTW: Board’s day-to-day work, short of their weekly meetings—which often get cancelled—isn’t visible at all from the outside. Once I find out what takes up the bulk of Board’s time, I may have practical suggestions as to what could help improve their workload.

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?

I’m afraid that if it takes this long to develop the strategic plan then it can never actually be relevant for the current situation. I’m fully of the opinion that making a strategic plan should not take this long. At the time of this writing, the Board is having their annual in-person meeting, at which, it is my understanding, the current strategic plan should be approved to start implementation—a plan for which they started gathering information in 2012, and that in last year’s retreat they decided to start implementing in January 2015. So there is likely not much I could do about the current strategic plan if I am elected; however, I do hope to have some influence on how the next strategic plan is made.

Matty Bowers 2015 Q&A: General Management

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

A good manager tailors their approach as needed; it changes depending on the situation and the people involved. If the group calls for a ‘take charge’ leader, I can do that. If they instead need a ‘facilitator’, I can do that as well. As a Board member I’ll take the approach best suited for whatever situation I find myself in.

I tend to be friendly, honest, and tactful in my communication with others. I also believe that listening is a key component of communication; it’s important to speak with people, not at them.

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?

I would be very interested in changing that. As chairs, we are required to document the key responsibilities for chairing our committees; these same requirements should be made of Board as well

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?

1. Staffing decisions: There is little point in having Board approve staffing changes; volunteers are allowed to serve under any name they wish and it is possible for them to simply change names and volunteer under a name no one knows. Having Board vet staffers does nothing but allow them to undermine a chair’s decision.

2. Personnel Conflicts: Board has neither the training nor the time to deal with these sorts of issues. We would be better served by setting up a more effective system for handling them.

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?

Our Strategic Planning committee started collecting information several years ago, and designed the current plan around that information. However, I worry that much of the data collected then would now be outdated, meaning the plan will not be as effective as it should be.

Ideally, Board should be working in partnership with the SP committee to produce a streamlined, achievable plan which focuses on the big picture and does not get bogged down in details. Any future strategic plans should have both a comprehensive plan and timeline set from the beginning. It should take into consideration any possible setbacks and have steps in place to accommodate them.