Internal Communication methods
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.
-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
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:
[deactivated 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....
Ax Sun 28 Apr 2019 5:44PM
Great post. I really appreciate the opportunity to see behind the scenes. The point of advice I would make is that slack can be very noisy and very hard to parse, I think loomio can mostly solve the same problem.
Regarding the Google Hangout limits I can recommend Jitsi.org for secure, big team A/V comms.
Fran Ellis Wed 1 May 2019 10:04PM
Wonderful, thanks for the recommendation Ax - will check that out for sure. Agree Slack can get noisy - we're a smaller community at MB so works well for us, just an example really
Siren Tue 30 Apr 2019 9:52AM
AFAIAA, this is exactly why Loomio has been set up, precisely to provide a platform for the community to decide things that the core and departmental teams will then execute.
Asana isn't about decision making, it's a task management tool. We do have conversations there but they're mainly 'Amanda, can you send me copy for what vols you need by Monday night, please/ Cal, how many memberships have we sold?'
Perhaps we need to give an overview of what channels we use and why...?
Asana: project task management, detailed tasks, deadlines, project deliverables and how they inter-depend.
Google: doc storage (although we also have this on asana)
Wordpress: website (we'll be hauling this over next year)
Mailchimp: email comms
Facebook Group, Page and Event: Organisation, comms, community interaction, community discussions and decisions.
Loomio: community discussions and decisions
Community meetings: community discussions and decisions
Individual emails: all core leads have their own email address, which anyone is welcome to use at any time for other discussions. usually department or first name @burningnest.co.uk. Anyone can email @burningnest.co.uk and it will default to info@ so provided you write FAO somewhere, it will reach them eventually.
Hope all this helps. We are uber transparent at Nest, i think...
Fran Ellis Wed 1 May 2019 10:12PM
Thanks for providing that overview, @siren4, very helpful for an informed discussion. And I should have made clear in my original post: I love Loomio and think it's great we've introduced it :) But my post wasn't necessarily about decision making,
"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."
What I'm suggesting is that all Nestlings are able to see those tasks if they so desire, and perhaps even pick some of them up further down the line...
Paul Phare Thu 2 May 2019 10:28AM
It would be difficult to open up Asana to everyone and I don't think Loomio is the right tool for Project Management. My proposal of issuing minutes of team meetings on Loomio is a way of tying the two together. It would present tasks, decisions and discussions in a more digestible format. It won't be live but it will allow the community to engage and influence the core team.
Siren Tue 7 May 2019 2:37PM
@franellis sadly, just because i know how this all works, your proposal is just completely impractical i'm afraid. With exponential amounts of people picking up however many tasks it will create gaps, overlap and confusion and generally make Nest a lot harder work than it is already.
however, i really see the value of having a dedicated release of event internal comms to create more of a feedback loop and greater transparency and I am very happy for this to sit in my area as comms lead. I do fully support this, however we have limited capacity in the comms team, so my suggestion would be that you are welcome to join the team to head this up for next year!
Happy to talk more at the event to see how this will work, but having Project Communications lead (which is what i do for a day job, incidentally!) is a really worthy role and might help us manage a lot of this interface about how the event is run.. if we have a centralised channel/releases (to loomio, on google docs, wherever) where people outside of Core and Event teams who are interested can see decisions taken and actions being managed, then that would be super useful.
I imagine it being something that we can release on a monthly basis, as per our core team meetings, increasing to fortnightly as per our core team meetings three months before the event. it would be in one place and then we can add links to here, facebook, website... it would be a bit like charities disclosing their activity and accounts... think that would work very well, actually.
Iona Steen Tue 30 Apr 2019 11:23PM
Fran already thank you for bringing up this thread and it’s super important
Particularly after joining the core team this year and being inaugurated onto a sauna I have a lot of concerns about the way decision-making is undertaken within the organisational structure of nest and I think there are many things that we could do to improve that.
I think the first thing I would suggest is that we are going to have a community meeting at the festival on the Saturday at 3 pm and I will put this topic on the agenda.
I also think that now we have lumiere as a platform to engage the whole community for decision-making and also that the community has been so constructive in their use of loomio in the last month.
that we are in a good place to divulge a lot of the decision-making that was previously made by the core team to the community using loomio as the platform.I think this is now beginning to happen and I will definitely have a cake for that trend to continue.
I agreed with Paul’s comment that some decisions my best made by somebody has well-informed without involving lots of people with them. And that’s also partly because a lot of decisions are a little bit the Nile and probably save a lot of time and energy not spending days debating them. I think this is now beginning to happen and I will definitely advocate for that trend to continue.
I agreed with Paul’s comment that some decisions are best made by somebody who is well-informed without involving lots of people with them. And that’s also partly because a lot of decisions are boring amd denial and probably save a lot of time and energy not spending days debating them.
Tom Allen Wed 1 May 2019 7:00AM
can you give an example of a decision which shouldn't be put to the community and why? i think issues that would cause days of debate are exactly the ones we shouldn't avoid as they are things people are obviously passionate and divided about. the smart way to avoid wasted effort is to ensure the question is posed in a constructive a way as possible to avoid situations like brexit. debating between two moving ideas is obviously a waste of time compared to debating between two clear ones.
Paul Phare Wed 1 May 2019 7:43AM
There are many examples of very tedious operational tasks that the community don't need to be involved with as I'm sure anyone can imagine. There are also some decisions that have to be made for us, like license conditions or contractual agreements with the landowner. You are trusting the core team to make decisions on behalf of the community and also trusting that should a decision benefit from consultation with the community, it will happen that way. Until Loomio arrived, the only way we could really consult the community was at community meetings and only then with the few committed people who showed up. Things do need to change and you can see from the conversations here, that there is a willingness to do so. May I respectfully suggest Tom, that you apply to join the core team next year if you are interested in the detail of the event but in the meantime please attend the community meeting we have planned at Nest where we will be discussing these issues.
Tom Allen Wed 1 May 2019 8:00AM
can you explain the tone of the last part of your message please paul? why are you trying to 'respectfully suggest' that i take a job next year instead of having a discussion here? isn't that what loomio is for? why are you trying to put me off using it? i also already opened up a thread asking what the core team is, what power they have, how do i join etc, but i got flamed for 'wasting core teams time' so i deleted it. do you have a solution for how to fix that? i have almost 20 years experience in outdoor event management and 10 years in volunteer community development. for next year i have thousand of hours i can volunteer for nest. but if people keep telling me to go away and not answer my questions now, then why should i bother?
Paul Phare Wed 1 May 2019 8:18AM
It was a genuine offer to join the core team and to come along to the event we have planned at Nest. We won’t be able to make any changes to the structure or the way we do things in any short period of time but you are welcome to continue making suggestions on Loomio in the meantime.
Lozmatron Sun 12 May 2019 8:54AM
It sounds to me like there is a separate issue being touched upon here (which perhaps warrants a separate thread/discussion to keep things clear) about the boundaries around the core team members’ scope for autonomy, and which decisions require community consultation.
For example, I don’t think logistically it’s sensible to consult with the community around which insurance policy we take out if we have someone experienced who knows what we need, what makes the event ethical, safe, legally compliant etc. It slows a process which is time sensitive and fairly black and white.
I know the event has a Master Operational plan which outlines core team duties. Could this be shared in a separate thread for discussion/ feedback from the community?
Lexy Thu 9 May 2019 9:13PM
I agree in principle that Nest organisation could and should be made more open and transparent.
I don't see any reason why we can't have everything on Asana open to everyone who is on Asana, and adding anyone who specifically wants to be added. Most won't want to, but I have no issues with full transparency, and open meetings as MicroBurn does.
If there are specific sensitive issues that require confidentiality (such as discussing an individual) then this can be in person, on phone or via email to specific person / people. But this is few and far between and for 99% of discussions can be open, so this could be the default.
Siren Mon 13 May 2019 11:38AM
HI all, we're having another discussion on managing social media channels and in particular challenging behaviour on a different thread. It's been SO valuable and considerate and respectful and the suggestions and contributions have been brilliant and providing us with a super way forward. There are already strategic changes i would like to make for next year, even before these discussions started happening, and they are very aligned to some of the feedback and discussion points we've had on loomio so far.
If people are happy for me to, i would like to capture some of this Internal Comms piece within the wider Comms strategy and the Social Media management piece into one big proposal about Knowledge Sharing, Transparency and Communications for us all as a consultation group to then take to the Nest Community Meeting on the saturday for discussion.
I'll make sure to tag you all in the proposal so that you can add further thoughts and options so that we have plenty to go with. Please let me know what you think. :slight_smile:
@franellis @lexyp @pauliophario @whothefkisjason @tomallen4 @ionasteen
Tom Allen Wed 19 Jun 2019 8:14PM
can i ask why this didn't happen in the end? genuinely interested in the real reason
Lozmatron Wed 19 Jun 2019 8:50PM
Probably because Nest was happening, and people are re-gathering their spoons... at a guess...
Fran Ellis Thu 20 Jun 2019 10:21AM
yeah sorry that I stopped commenting here actually, after making the initial post - I was thinking more on all the good ideas and suggestions posted, having an excellent week with everyone and of course catching up on life afterwards, as Lozmatron guessed! Lozmatron also right that there are two topics - the modifying how we communicate for planning essentially being a route to a more decentralised organisational model, I now realise, and this isn’t necessarily what this community wants. So now some of us are discussing and working on a proposal for an alternative specific to the Nest community. If it’s something people are interested in then cool, if not, i would suggest simply enjoying Nest for all its magic and going to be decentralised somewhere else... that’s what I will be doing anyway 😊
Fran Ellis Thu 20 Jun 2019 10:23AM
Will edit the context of original post later including all the new ideas and suggestions posted by others - unless someone else can be bothered to do it before me then please go ahead 🙌
Paul Phare Thu 20 Jun 2019 11:46AM
I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater Fran. Myself and others who have been part of the core team are aware of and see need for decentralisation of how the event is organised. The problem I see is a demand from certain quarters that we do it now and a certain amount of finger wagging for not having done it already. Steps can be taken in that direction and I've seen proposals that seem measured and practical to implement. As I'm helping to wrap things up for this year I would love to see some of these implemented in 2020. Let's keep the discussions open and hopefully those who appear angry with us will see that their concerns are being listened to.
Amandasm Thu 20 Jun 2019 12:17PM
@franellis I think there are 2 separate issues there.. having communication channels that are more transparent, and having a less centralised structure. Regardless of how much Nest changes its structure or how fast that happens if so, we can still begin to create more open channels of communication, be more transparent, and come up with better ways of receiving feedback from the community. And either way, this could promote more community engagement and volunteering.
I think decentralisation is a separate issue from this thread, even if somewhat related.
Tom Allen Thu 20 Jun 2019 2:00PM
@amandasm totally agree . Decentralised is a long term goal maybe but the other things you mentioned seem more urgent due to the amount of issues they seem to be creating daily . I have many ideas in how to so to solve them which I will post if I am accepted into the team in August when I get back from BL
Fran Ellis Thu 20 Jun 2019 8:01PM
Don't worry Paulo I won’t be going anywhere, babies will be bathed. I just meant that there are plenty of communities and movements in which we can explore the alternative way of organising that interests each of us personally 🙃 not all of them will be organised in the way we think is best and that’s cool, we can still enjoy them.
And Amanda I totally agree there are two issues here, but personally think altering the method we use to organise ourselves and make decisions is one path to a more decentralised structure, and a good starting point. So I guess its difficult to discuss communication without structure, when transparency insinuates one group being transparent to another, whilst Loomio lends itself to a structure wherein there is no inner/outer distinction. Does that make any sense? Sorry I’m sleepy and also reluctant to get into this online too heavily. Need Nest internet break. Big lovin to you all 💓💕
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.