dEhiN wrote:Linguoboy, you shared about your organization hiring an outside consultant to help you guys restructure things in a less hierarchical, more transparent way. What were some of the specific outcomes of that? And specifically relating to your question, did the restructuring involve the management divulging in full detail all of their discussions to the non-management? Because that is how I understand your question.
I think one of the key realisations to come out of the most recent iteration of this process which began about three years ago (just in case anyone thinks these things can be rushed) is that our internal culture is very information-withholding and that this is at odds with our core mission, which is to connect users with information. Even though the head of the organisation has been in favour of greater transparency and openness, there had been no systematic attempt to spread this ethos throughout the organisation.
What this meant was that before communicating anything, the question people asked themselves was "Who needs to know about this?" as opposed to "What reason, if any, exists not to share this?" One direct result of this mindset was that it often cut people out of the loop who should have been included, leading to poorer decision-making , not to mention lots of bitterness. It's the main reason why we ended up with such a trust gap between the administration and the rest of the organisation: Staff felt like they had no say in decisions which had a major impact on them and their work.
Some of the concrete changes we've made include:
- Making more meetings open meetings. As I said, before the mentality was, "Who needs to be explicitly invited to this meeting?" Now the question we ask is, "What justifies excluding people?" In some cases, such as high-level business meetings involving contracts still in negotiation, it's obvious that the list of attendees needs to be kept strictly limited. But most of our meetings aren't like that and now it's common to send out general invites welcoming anyone who might possibility be interested in the topics discussed, even if these don't relate directly to their present role in the organisation.
- Sharing agenda and minutes from these meetings in a timely manner. The former lets people know if something concerning them is to be discussed so they can plan to attend or communicate their concerns to an attendee. The latter makes it easier for staff to keep abreast of decisions and proposals. These are posted on the staff intranet where anybody can read them. We also now have a weekly e-mail communication from the head plus quarterly all-staff meetings and a weekly e-mail roundup from our workgroup leader, who also leads a biweekly standup session where she fills us in on the latest meeting of the operations group.
- Diversifying participation in committees, workgroups, etc. At the same time that staff were complaining about not being involved in decisions which affected them, administration were complaining about having too many meetings to attend. What was happening was that people were being assigned to groups more on the basis of their role and title than on their expertise and interest and that selection was becoming self-reinforcing: people tended to select people to serve that they'd already worked with instead of recruiting others. We're using a variety of approaches to expand participation, such as putting out more general calls for volunteers and providing more training for staff who have the interest but not necessarily the specific skills they need to, say, serve on a hiring committee or do assessment.
There's a lot more than that, but those are some of the initiatives which I think are most relevant to the discussion at hand. In particular, the whole question of what does and doesn't need to be done out of view of the general membership of the board or the general public. "Does this need to be mods only?" is a question the mods seldom if ever seem to ask themselves; y'all're more comfortable doing it that way, you've always done it that way, so why change?
dEhiN wrote:I do think that transparency is necessary and a good thing, but I don't believe that the full discussions should be shown publicly.
dEhiN wrote:I was giving it some thought, and realized that every leadership team I've ever been on (of which, this is the first online one) has had discussions about the things that they were responsible for, things that by nature of the team being a leadership team means affected others, and yet those teams have never made public the full discussion to those affected. Sure, there are times where some details of the discussion are shared. And there are times where only the results of the discussion are shared. To me, that's the nature of there being a leadership team.
That explanation amounts to "That's the way I've always done it." That's not a policy justification, it's just a summary of your experiences.
dEhiN wrote:One further thing I would like to add is that Johanna shared that there has been discussion amongst the mods about the issues of transparency vs privacy and how issues have been and are being handled. She didn't mention anything about decisions.
The irony here gets thicker by the day.
Why isn't the whole board
being invited to that conversation, since it's at the crux of most of the issues being aired here?
dEhiN wrote:In fact, the only two decisions that I recall being made were two polls between the mods to see who's in favour of more open moderation and who's in favour of changing the forum policy. And for both polls, the unanimous vote was yes.
Was this before or after I asked:
linguoboy wrote:What buy-in do we have from the moderation team on this?
And, in either case, why did it take so long for one of the mods to admit such a poll had even taken place let alone reveal the results to the membership?
This is why I asked for you all to make the contents of your discussions public. Right now, we're in a situation where you all decide what you think we can be trusted to know and your default is to tell us nothing. I've had to push and push for three days
to get even this little scrap of information. Why? What possible purpose does that serve except to continue communicating the message that you don't consider us responsible adults, let alone equal partners in this venture?
This leads us back to the question about what is the business of Unilang. If it is--as Luís, Car, and I all agree--just a social club that meets in a virtual space, then let me ask you how you would feel about a social club that excludes most of its members from decision-making in this way. If you think it's something else (something closer to the businesses that you and I work for), then what is that other thing?
dEhiN wrote:The rest of the discussion has been centred around practical things such as Luís (if I remember correctly) suggesting about the extension we could use for bans, which was then shared with everyone in the "Forum Policy Discussion" thread, or JackFrost asking for a proofread of his mod message before he posted it on the "Random Thread". So, basically team related discussions.
If you say so. I have no way of knowing what else you're leaving out because (charitable interpretation) you think it isn't important for others to know about.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons