Strategic planning update #5

Welcome to the latest news update from our Strategic Planning group. We’re very excited to have been confirmed as an official committee — we were previously a workgroup, which is used more often for temporary or short-term work. This switch is an acknowledgement that proper strategic planning for the org is a huge project, and also of the fact that it’s not a one-time process. After this round is complete, we’ll have to help committees put the plans into action, then re-evaluate and go through the process again (every 3 – 5 years), refining each time.

We’re currently in the process of drafting our first report, which is about the Tag Wrangling team. Once completed, we will share this first with the Tag Wrangling committee staff, then with the Board, then with Tag Wrangling volunteers; then it will be published publicly. Each of these groups will have the opportunity to correct factual errors in review, but not to remove or edit the summary of what was revealed by the surveys.

We have also gathered responses from our second set of surveys for retired Tag Wrangling volunteers and the VolCom staff, and are following up with all of the people who indicated in their survey responses that they’d like to talk to us further.

Additionally, in the last few weeks, we’ve been working on two more sets of surveys, one for the Fanlore-related teams (Wiki Committee, gardeners and editors), and the other for Open Doors. The chairs of these committees are currently being given the opportunity to review the surveys and weigh in on the timing of deployment.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has filled out a survey so far — Tag Wrangling staff and volunteers, Volunteers & Recruiting Committee staff, and all the retired staff and volunteers. Not only do we appreciate being able to gather this data, which is extremely important to the continuation of the org and the creation of a strategic plan, but we also appreciate everyone’s patience, and their help in refining our questions so we can get better and better at developing the best practices for acquiring the information we need.

As always, people with questions and comments about the strategic planning process and/or who would like to get in touch with us about their OTW experiences are all welcome to contact us via our direct contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!

Strategic planning update #4

The Strategic Planning Workgroup’s first two surveys have been deployed! On July 11, one survey went out to the Tag Wrangling volunteers and another to the Tag Wrangling staff members. A third, designed for former wranglers, is being edited and reviewed right now.

The survey deadline for TW volunteers and staff was July 25th, and we were excited to see completed surveys rolling in steadily for the full two weeks. We’d like to publicly thank everyone on the Tag Wrangling team for their willingness to engage with us and give us their honest assessments of the Tag Wrangling team, the OTW, and also the survey itself. The meta-commentary on our survey is going to be very helpful going forward — for this incarnation of the SP workgroup as well as all the future ones.

The next group we plan to examine is VolCom; the survey is complete and being reviewed by the VolCom chair. Once we have Renay’s comments, we will edit as necessary, and then deploy that survey to VolCom staff. We are also currently reviewing documentation and brainstorming survey questions for the Open Doors and Wiki committees.

(While we aren’t currently planning to make the survey questions available to the public, the text of each will be available to OTW staff and volunteers in the Strategic Planning Workgroup section of the OTW’s internal wiki soon after each survey is released.)

On that note, let’s talk about confidentiality: The Strategic Planning Workgroup takes this issue very seriously. What we mean when we say “confidentiality” is basically that the people who talk to us — whether via our surveys, e-mail, in chat, or through the Strategic Planning Workgroup contact form — are entitled to have their identities protected at all times. The practical application of this is that no one’s name or identifiable characteristics/information will ever be mentioned:

  • during our meetings
  • in our meeting minutes
  • in these updates
  • in the updates we send to the OTW’s internal newsletter
  • when we discuss our information with VolCom, the board, or any other committee
  • in the committee-specific reports
  • in the general-org report

We do talk about people by name and discuss the specifics of their responses during our meetings, but only after we have “locked” our chatroom. A locked room means no transcript is being automatically saved. Transcripts of our locked meetings are circulated internally and may eventually be kept in the OTW’s Vault, but they are not available to anyone outside the SP Workgroup. We also discuss these specifics on our mailing list. The mailing list is archived automatically, but the archive is private to the SP Workgroup, and members of the SP Workgroup are the only people who are subscribed to the mailing list.

Eventually, the raw data from surveys and interviews will be stored in the OTW’s Vault. This is a private, locked area that no one can access without the appropriate credentials (in this case, being a member of the SP Workgroup).

The SP Workgroup also takes seriously the concerns that people have expressed (both directly through private correspondence as well as publicly in personal journals and various discussion forums) that people who have negative opinions about the OTW will be silenced. While we aren’t empowered to prevent others from doing this, we — as a team and as individuals — believe this would be wrong and unethical if it’s occurring. We do not believe there are wrong opinions or wrong experiences; we want to hear everyone’s thoughts and learn about everyone’s experiences, from the completely negative to completely positive and everything in between. One purpose for the Strategic Planning process is to help create a space for everyone in the org to be heard. Nothing said to us will ever be held against the person saying it. The more honest responses we receive from current and former staff and volunteers, the more it will help the Org in drawing up a comprehensive strategic plan.

(If you have had a negative experience in which you believe your opinions have been used against you, we strongly suggest you get in touch with VolCom. This is the kind of issue which will be more fully addressed by the code of conduct VolCom are currently developing; in the meantime, they still want to hear about any problems that occur)

As always, people with questions and comments about the strategic planning process and/or who would like to get in touch with us about their OTW experiences are all welcome to contact us via our (new!) direct contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!

Strategic planning update #3

Hello from the Strategic Planning workgroup! Things are proceeding apace for us, albeit slightly more slowly than we expected. We have an internal schedule that has us delivering the final strategic plan report document to the org as a whole in December 2012. We anticipate that this schedule may change, since as a group (and as an organization), we’re obviously having to create, adopt, and adapt processes as we go.

Currently we’re prioritizing doing tasks well — and with as little undue pressure on staff and volunteers as possible — over doing them quickly. If our timeline for delivery changes, we will provide updates.

Things done this month

That said…

1) We have received responses from the Tag Wrangling chairs and we have (with their input) finalized our survey for the Tag Wrangling team. We spent quite a bit of time discussing issues of confidentiality, what promising anonymity means to the people who we want to fill out our surveys, and how to maximize the honesty of responses and overall utility of the survey.

2) While we had originally considered using the OTW Community Survey workgroup’s SurveyMonkey account, the Board recently approved the expense to get Strategic Planning a separate account so as not to compromise the data confidentiality for either workgroup. Both the Survey Workgroup and the Strategic Planning group will have ongoing work through the rest of this year. Our own survey account will allow us to restrict access to the Strategic Planning group alone.

3) We have created brainstorming documents for each committee and workgroup within the OTW. While working with the Tag Wrangling team (and while we start synthesizing their answers from our interviews and surveys), we are also reviewing documentation for other teams and working on putting together interview and survey questions for them. Some of the types of answers we are looking for have to do with each team’s goals, what’s working for them and what’s not, and the relationships between individual teams and the rest of the organization. We have designed our questions to be as open-ended as possible in order to encourage a wide range of answers. Though compilation of this free-form data will add to the analysis time, we hope it will help us determine larger patterns both within individual teams and also collectively throughout the OTW.

Next Steps

Right now, the plan is to wait for our surveys of the Tag Wrangling team to be finished before we start implementing the surveys for any other team — we are sure the meta-feedback we get from the Tag Wranglers about our methods will be very helpful in moving forward with the other teams.

The Strategic Planning workgroup welcomes feedback and questions. We are particularly looking to get in touch with former volunteers who’d like to talk to us about their OTW experiences. The best way to get in touch with us is via the Communications form.