Thu 25 Apr 2019 1:30PM

Internal Communication methods

FE Fran Ellis Public Seen by 112

Hello, I'm Fran, I'm co-leading Arts this year, which involves general oversight of all things art grants, centre camp (the Point), programmes, wristbands, decor and temple/effigy. I'm starting this discussion as I'm also a macro lead and comms lead for Microburn and involved in various community-safety areas of the Borderland, and feel there are some simple ways we at Nest could increase transparency and opportunities for co-creation and also address recent discussions on centralisation vs. decentralisation. Whilst we are obviously not going to overhaul our internal comms methods before this year's event, (getting the show on the road is priority!) I think it's worthwhile to start the conversation anyway.

Current Internal Comms:
For those that aren't aware, the planning of Nest happens mostly via Asana (a project management platform), online meetings (of leads), community meetings (of anyone), email, Google Drive, sometimes Facebook and of course more recently Loomio.
Add any more methods if I've missed them!

Whilst Asana is a highly organised tool of keeping all discussions, tasks, documents etc. in one place, and retaining knowledge for the following year, it means that only those Nestlings that have volunteered for lead roles are able to see how the event is organised and what tasks need doing. And whilst emails may reduce noise on the main comms channels, it means knowledge is retained only by those party to the exchange. In my opinion, that the majority of the Nest community are unable to see how the event is organised adds to the general feeling that it all happens 'behind closed doors'. It may also negatively impact recruitment and on-boarding: if people are able to see how the event is organised, maybe they'd be more inclined to take tasks/roles on themselves in the future. It's easy to say 'anyone can get involved by taking on a lead role', but many may be hesitant to take a leadership role if they have limited understanding of what that involves. This may add to the usual suspects leading the thing year on year and eventually becoming burnt out.

For the reasons mentioned above, I think it would be beneficial to open up so-called 'internal' communications to the wider community. If everyone is a co-creator, everyone should be able to see how this thing is co-created.

That's up to us! Could we open up Asana to the wider Nest community? Could we move all planning to Loomio? Could we invite anyone to planning meetings, if we can get past the 10-person Hangouts limit? Some small adjustments to our internal/digital comms could have a hugely positive impact on community cohesion.

Some inspiration:
-At Microburn all planning happens on Slack, where all channels are open for everyone to observe or participate in (including the coreleads channel). This is excluding art grants, low-income applications, conflict resolution and the like, which involve confidential info and are therefore private channels to the people working in that area each year.
-Anyone can attend MB planning meetings, you don't have to be a lead. They are always recorded and left on YouTube and minutes are in the publicly accessible MB Google folder for anyone to read.
-For both MB and BL, conversations and discussions happen on threads either on Slack or Talk (Loomio). This means knowledge is accessible by the whole community and is retained, to be referred back to in subsequent years by new people.
-BL is highly decentralised, which wouldn't necessarily work for Nest and is a gradual process, not something that can happen overnight. But for inspiration, check out the Realities platform. Anyone can add a necessary task to Realities, and anyone can pick tasks up. Kiez Burn in Germany are also using this system, and Burnerot in Israel is using something similar called Doocrat.

Excited to hear people's ideas and opinions on this <3


Paul Phare Thu 25 Apr 2019 3:07PM

A good discussion and worth having. As someone coordinating the core team this year I have some concerns about opening up every level of decision making with the whole community. Sometimes you need a small team of people associated with a task, who have all the knowledge and experience to get on and make it happen. As a project management tool I think Asana is good for tracking this job. It is right however that core team is held accountable for its decisions. My suggestion is that minutes from the core team meetings are published on Loomio for the community to review. Any issues raised can then be picked up at the next team meeting. We're building up a culture of recording tasks and keeping everything in one place with full traceability. I think it's important that Nest has a framework that allows Leads to make decisions with the ability to draw in the community when needed (through Loomio), accountability by communicating decisions transparently and traceability if any decision needs to be reviewed. I'm recommending this approach to start with because it's not so far from where we are now and it keeps the continuity for next year (training leads up on another platform will lose all the benefit of the work put into Asana this year). Future core teams may evolve the decentralisation process as more members of the community engage.


Fran Ellis Thu 25 Apr 2019 3:26PM

I think you are right that sometimes a decision needs to be made by a smaller group of people, but opening up internal comms is not necessarily opening up decision-making - i.e., a DO-ocracy rather than DEM-ocracy, meaning that whilst anyone can offer advice, participate in or view a discussion, the people who have committed to taking on a task make the ultimate decision, rather than community consensus.

I agree that publishing meeting minutes is an excellent start, though!


Tom Allen Fri 26 Apr 2019 11:40AM

i agree that transparency is certainly one of the easier and quicker steps to implement and is essential to get more community engagement in this process. I think your point about small teams is a valid one, but you seemed to have missed the middle ground between a small closed team and asking everyone. a small open team that takes on and considers input from everyone then decides :)


Paul Phare Fri 26 Apr 2019 12:07PM

In what I am proposing is a culture of engagement with the community through Loomio where leads consult the community on decisions where that is approriate to the task


Tom Allen Fri 26 Apr 2019 8:55AM

i think if you are going to look at internal communication methods, it might also be a good time to look at attitudes too. as even the best tool will fall flat if people are using it in a way which puts others off. I recently totally removed myself from all co-creation of borderland at the event level because the lack of policy or enforcement on negative behaviour allows lots of discussions to become toxic and push people away, when opened to the wider community without oversight. i also just got a reply from a nowhere lead that "norg has decided to take comment from the whole community is too much for volunteer lead to process". my response to that is that the lead role is organised wrong if it doesn't have capacity to take input from the community.


Fran Ellis Sat 27 Apr 2019 1:07PM

For sure, any platform will need some kind of user guidelines, like those in the 'Nest Governance' thread description, perhaps!


Siren Tue 30 Apr 2019 9:43AM

completely agree with this, Tom. It's a really hard job managing digital comms channels so everyone feels heard. We have a code of conduct that we are refreshing and that captures respectful compassionate interactions whether in person or online. Next year we'll have a bigger comms and marketing team, as we'll be changing the way some of it works, and with the introduction of Loomio, we'll need to be able to facilitate and enable the do-ocracy aspect to that effectively across both Comms and Community teams. Hopefully that will give you some comfort?

You can find social media guidelines for Nest in the Burning Nest Group. And if you have any issues at all with anything or anyone on social media or Loomio, please reach out to me ([email protected]) or Charlotte ([email protected]) xxx


Fran Ellis Sat 27 Apr 2019 1:09PM

I'm moving this to the main Burning Nest group as I have just realised the Governance group is closed :ok_hand:


Deleted account Sat 27 Apr 2019 3:02PM

I think this kind of proves your point!

Personally I think that the default should be accessible to the community. That doesn't mean that every little thing has to be public and up for discussion, and where something needs to be restricted to a certain group that's OK.

I feel at the moment you're probably hearing a lot from the people with criticism but (small) barriers may be stopping a lot of positivity - people who feel something is wrong are more likely to go to the effort to make themselves heard!

I think Nest are doing a great job, last year was absolutely awesome and this year could be even better :-D


Lozmatron Sun 12 May 2019 8:37AM

Just like to clarify that I set up the governance page (not as a core team member) and didn’t realise the group was ‘closed’. I just saw a need and did a Thing.

I’ve set the page to ‘open’ now although it does mean the conversation can be seen and added to by anyone on the web. Hey ho I’m sure that doesn’t matter too much?

Anyway hopefully this resolves this small aspect of the concern....

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