Margaret MacRae – 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?

Right now we need to have an executive committee and what we have is the Board. There are too many projects and committees to not have an executive committee. In three years, I would like to have an advisory board that focuses on external outreach as well as an executive committee that is made up of each committee chair and executive staff or executive board. I don’t really care what we call them, but a group that would oversee setting internal priorities and the allocation of org resources. I should clarify that when I say we need more infrastructure, I don’t just mean an advisory and executive board. We need to increase infrastructure throughout the org. This means building in redundancies at each level, documenting processes, and developing procedures where we have just been muddling through.

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?

First, I would clarify the purview of each of committees that we have and then look at filling the gaps (e.g. a committee to handle support tickets for Fanlore). Then I would clarify the requirements for each position within the org. Some of this would be pretty basic, like if you are on Board you have to be willing to reply to your email in a certain timeframe, or if you are a Chair you need to be willing to stop doing some staff level work, while some of it might be more complicated, like to be a member of Legal you need to be a member of a bar association. (Some committees have this already, but it’s not universal.) Finally, I would look at how to organize the committees into teams.This might be project based, skills based, or an amalgam of both and would give each team its own “executive” or “executive team” (I don’t like these terms, but I am not really sure what to use. Super chairs?) who would be responsible for dealing with providing day-to-day management and facilitating the team’s work. Ideally, this would free up Board to deal with org wide management.

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

So I am definitely assuming that anything is possible. If I was given a magic wand and told that I got to make one thing happen, this is what I would do: the OTW would be fully staffed, the staff would have the skills we need, and each position would have a back-up person. By that I mean that there is someone who can step in and fill in at a moment’s notice. I am not saying get promoted, but fill in. (We as an org need to stop promoting people who don’t want the promotions.) My step-dad died unexpectedly at the beginning of this year, and I didn’t hesitate to go on hiatus because every other member of SP could step up and do my tasks. This was possible because we document what we do, and we make sure that we have more than one person trained to do all of our regular tasks. In some committees, it might mean that when one person takes time off, several people have to move up. During law school, I worked for a retailer that insisted on this policy. When our store manager was offered a special role for six months, the assistant store manager became the acting manager, one of the key-leaders became acting assistant store manager, and so on. This worked because everyone had the training to step up, and everyone trusted that the person who would be taking their role had the training and knew how to do it. Life happens, and people should know that they can take the time they need to deal with that. Creating these redundancies may mean needing to cross-train via committee too, and it will certainly mean that people will need to trust their co-workers and document their work.

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