ALV-9-May-2014 lessons

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Lessons learned

Becha's personal opinion

What went right

  • being very organised, in advance: having clear deadlines, clear rules, communicate in advance
  • asking members to choose the date -- by using the poll
  • reviewing the agenda points WITH the proposer, to clarify the text
  • having the time period between the deadline for votable points, and announcing the agenda
  • sending reminders, often
  • LOCKING the draft agenda to prevent editing by random "contributors" (because then the changes get un-noticed by the secretary)
  • REQUIRING that the votable points are emailed to the "secretary"
  • reviewing the "voting procedure" for each point separately
  • having printed version of the agenda, to distribute to people without laptops
  • preparing all the material in advance: minutes of previous ALV, reports, list of actions, list of members...
  • having a printout , in ALPHABETICAL ORDER, of all the members (and not just "those who payed")
  • having post-it notes, in different colors
  • NUMBERING the post-it notes, to keep track of "quorum"
  • writing the list of candidates on the white-board
  • having snacks
    • (thanks to who-ever organised THAT!)
  • having breaks
  • stopping after 5 hours, NOT going on after the exhaustion point
  • having few spare printouts of empty proxy form
    • for people who have to leave early and want to leave their vote to someone else (happened on every ALV)
  • using piratepad for taking interactive minutes
    • it was appreciated by some people who could not be there
    • spelling mistakes were corrected by crowdsourcing ;-)
  • being civil to each other

What can be improved

timing

  • half-hour before the end of ALV - add another point -- "NEW ACTIONS"
    • PLAN this into the time for the whole ALV
    • STOP the ALV half-hour earlier, and go through the new action points
    • this would make it clearer for everyone what are they supposed to do after
  • INCREASE the time period between the deadline for votable points and the announcement (now it was only 3 days, due to the circumstances of travel of two board members) -- two weeks would be better -- PLAN that into the scheduling!
    • this would give the board more time to communicate with each "maintainer"
    • this would give the maintainer of the point more time to get support or improvements to their points
    • this would give the members more time to discuss the points
  • make sure to give enough time for the proposal of agenda points
    • between the ALV announcement & the "draft deadline" should be at least 4 weeks, better 6
    • (then 2 legal weeks, then 2 weeks for "review" -> it adds up to 2.5 months, minimum)
  • DO NOT accept any changes after the deadline!! (example: Philip's "Addendum" to Wizzup's point) (example1)
  • choosing the date
    • in March-May period, we opted for polling the members, because board had internal conflicts and could not even agree on the ALV date
    • another reason for polling the members is to collect "wisdom of the crowds" , and find the best suitable date for all, NOT only for the board
    • there were objections to using "doodle" -- try looking for more acceptable SW
    • alternatively, let the board choose the date -- if it is well in advance, people might adjust their plans
  • DO NOT Accept too many points!!
    • (this will greatly benefit everyone -- the more gets CUT OUT and clarified beforehand, between secretary/board and a maintainer of each point, the more time will be saved during the ALV! members will eventually be grateful that we spared them endless and pointless discussions during the ALV...)
  • add the "duration of ALV" in the planning
    • every time we say "this is not needed", and every time we end up cutting the ALV because "it's getting too late", "it's been going on for too long".
    • lets learn from this -- no-one can stand to sit at the meeting longer then 5 hours!!
    • plan-in the BREAKS!!! after every hour!!
  • add the TIMING to the agenda -- expected duration of each point!!!
    • (that will help in the planning phase: if there are 10 points & each takes 30 minutes, not good!)
    • during the meeting, TRACK the timing of the points, and act accordingly: either shorten the discussions, or warn people that we will run out of time

procedure

  • be even more organised!!!
    • PLAN the next ALV MUCH MORE IN ADVANCE!! e.g. 3 months in advance!!
    • DOCUMENT the planning procedure!!


  • make a devision of responsibilities within the board
    • make two-three people responsible for the ALV organisation: secretary, shadow-secretary & 3rd volunteer to help
    • it is important to have enough (wo)man power, because it is a lot of work, and always against deadlines
    • count on obstacles -- count on people getting sick, having too much work at their job, traveling, having personal priorities...
    • get someone else to volunteer to take the notes?!?!?!


  • AFTER the ALV, make a review:
    • what went right, what do we want to keep doing next time
    • what can we improve for the next time


  • REPEAT repeat repeat
    • make it even more clear to the members HOW the process should work, and WHY
    • do this in person! not only on email!
    • send even more reminders!!!


  • prepare the list of members in the alphabetical order of NICKNAMES
    • some people do not like using personal names
    • if possible, omit personal names altogether


  • HAVE A WORKING PRINTER!!


  • put the stamps on the voting post-its in advance
  • come up with an even better method of keeping track of number-of-people present

content

  • be MORE STRICT when accepting points!
    • DO NOT Accept too many points!!
    • accept that it is OK to REJECT the points, on account on: it is not well formulated - try again; it was not discussed before on the list; there are too many other points, sorry, wait for the next ALV
    • (personal opinion: suggest that some proposed points can be resolved IN REAL LIFE, without voting for them... but by talking to the fellow members, seeking consensus rather then majority, talking at the members meetings, or in the Circle...)
    • INSIST on the points being discussed before they are submitted to the agenda!
    • (people who points get rejected BEFOREHAND will be "spared the disappointment" that they would feel anyway later, twhen their points have to be postponed anyway, because ALV had to be cut short, OR when their point gets rejected _anyway_ because it was not well formulated, not discussed enough in advance..., not clearly defined so there is a misunderstanding... )


  • DO NOT accept any changes after the deadline!! (example1)
    • (Q: what will be the additional two weeks period be used for, then??)
    • (A: word-smiting of the submitted points, ONLY between the maintainer & the secretary/board)
    • (Q: do we need to split this into "one week when the changes will still be accepted, and one week lock-out?")
    • (A: NO -- the "3 days" should be "two weeks", so that the board does not get burned-out with the pressure & stress of working in the last moment! )
    • AFTER the (draft) deadline, maintainer has the responsibility to chase the board to make any additions, that he/she has gotten from the community. any formal request for the change of point has to be requested the same way -- by emailing it to the secretary.
    • the board HAS the responsibility to make the clarification of the submitted points TO THE LEVEL OF CLARITY that THEY require
    • the board has NO RESPONSIBILITY to read through the mailing-lists or wiki-pages-history to "fish" for the additional points!! (example1)
    • it is NOT a valid argument to say "this point is reasonable" , "it is a good idea", "it is a small change"... NO argument is valid for adding another point, by a random contributor, after the (draft) deadline


  • ask the "maintainer" of the point to make the wiki page
    • each point can have a separate wiki page, not the "draft agenda"
    • it will be linked from the draft agenda
    • this page can be used for discussion / additions / smiting / collecting support / alternative version .... BEFORE the deadline!
    • AFTER the (draft) deadline, maintainer has the responsibility to chase the board to make any additions, that he/she has gotten from the community.
    • the board has the responsibility to make the clarification of the submitted points TO THE LEVEL OF CLARITY that they require
    • the board has NO RESPONSIBILITY to read through the mailing-lists or wiki-pages-history to "fish" for the additional points!! (example1)


  • add an agenda point "NEW ACTION POINTS"
    • this would make it clearer for everyone what are they supposed to do after
    • alternatively, or in addition, add "FORMULATE AN ACTION POINT" (what, who, deadline) after each votable point