The challenge: How do we effectively drive forward meaningful initiatives in WG meetings without sacrificing transparency and the context-building critical to newcomers and uninvolved observers?
Suggestions have ranged from bifurcating (two meetings: one actionable, one informational), to limiting active speakers to certain contributor levels, as well as a range of other considerations. The feeling by @helmass and I is that there are some low-hanging fruit in this regard that would 1) make the impact of the meetings greater, 2) reduce the burden on WG leads, and 3) foster inclusion and education adjacent to the meetings rather than within each meeting.
Suggestion 1: Open the meeting room 20 minutes ahead of the meeting start time as a forum for new joiners to discuss the slides and any related topics and/or OGs to work through context building questions without eating into meeting time; no need to mute or +1; no need for WG lead to participate other than opening the call.
Suggestion 2: Have someone record meeting minutes around actionable topics to be circulated and help inform the following week’s slide deck. This is a relatively common practice to ensure that initiatives are moving forward in the traditional business sense, and one that may benefit The Coop in this sense. Some benefits as we see it:
Establish ‘ownership’ of tasks and ongoing efforts (easily know appropriate POC); and also identify stalled efforts
Move conversations along more meaningfully by tracking historical context of a topic (avoids rehashing)
Provide a way to self-educate without participating ← (largest community value-add IMO)
Provide accessible context for timezone-async contributors
If you’re a participant, please signal if you would find either useful. If you’re a WG lead or Gold Owl please indicate in the comments whether you’d be amenable to adopting these suggestions in whole or part (would require the +20 min early open of the room; however, meeting minutes should be delegated within the WG so no extra lift for WG leads). Looking for solid community feedback on this and discussion around any other low-effort/high-value-add ways to improve meeting efficiency.
Sentiment check ONLY. Select all that apply:
I think a casual forum ahead of individual meetings would be useful.
@puniaviision I pretty firmly disagree - imo that would be some solid centralization, even if the content of those meetings was being distilled and reported. While there are only a few players on any given initiative, the WGs and meetings are for the benefit of the entire community - as such they should be highly visible and accessible. I would strongly prefer to meet this challenge head-on rather than take the easy route that sacrifices transparency. Additionally, there is no one stopping break-out groups from moving things forward and using the WG meeting as a reporting function.
I don’t love that TWG meetings are closed, but to that end I have never tried to attend one either, so I have been aware of this since only yesterday. My feeling is that only discussions around sensitive data should be shielded from public view and even then the players and process should be well known and established (i.e. we should know what we don’t know, and agree that it’s for the benefit of the community that we don’t know it).
I think this may change by contributor, and goes to framing the problem we’re facing, but personally: Working groups are a task-force that are empowered by the broader community to drive focused initiatives forward.
In my opinion this is the single greatest benefit of good minutes. Being able to scan ~5 sets of meeting minutes a person could have a very good understanding of:
Current initiatives broadly
Specific initiatives underway and blockers
Needs for more resources or cross-function requests
Who is leading specific initiatives and expected timelines
Who was in attendance
What has been explicitly agreed-to
As it stands I would need to spend 5 fixed un-sequential hours to gain that understanding each week; this would drill it down to less than one hour for all, it could be done on one’s own time, and would be available to anyone. These meetings really help build context for those not yet in the know - sometimes that takes several successive meetings to do; if we can lower the bar to meaningful contribution, all boats rise.
I’m keen to update our meeting format as I think we can get A LOT better in this regard.
Ultimately it is up to the discretion of the WG leads to determine how they want to structure their team calls. My thoughts on the suggestions posted above.
Suggestion 1 - I’m FOR providing more opportunities for context setting. However, I think tagging an additional 20 mins at the start of each meeting will not be viable long term. It would make some meetings over 1 hour 20 mins in some instances.
Suggest 2 - No brainer, and something which has been brought up several times. WG leads, you have 50 copper owls keen to contribute, it should be pretty straight forward to find someone to support you in note taking and sharing.
I agree with @puniaviision that in many instances targeted meetings with a smaller group of individuals can be more productive.
Our Org call discussion on Wednesday explored how we might encourage more cross-WG collaboration. Capping meeting at 6-8 people would create silos and damage this effort.
I am strongly opposed to havingall WG meetings happen behind closed door. WG should be accountable to the community that voted them. Whilst I don’t think public facing meetings are needed every week, I would like to see all WG have at least one fully public meeting per month. This would allow the community to ask their questions and raise their challenge.
@puniaviision what specific issues are facing with the Product call that makes you want to reduce the number of people who are able to attend?
I have spoken to Matt about this and we are both in agreement that a regular public facing Treasury meeting would be valuable. His aim is to increase transparency around this WG going forward, not reduce it.
I have recently joined and have attended a couple of WG meetings and I strongly agree with your point about recording minutes and more so trying to think “so what?” around every discussion that takes place and what actions can be derived from it. Having worked in consulting this was one of the main ways we would improve client meetings.
Completely agree with all this around the benefits of recording minutes. They will also allow actions to be captured and then the owners of those actions can provide updates at the next meeting, so anything that was discussed previously and required a follow up will not be lost in the discord channels.
Just a few thoughts, and have already volunteered to try taking minutes for a WG if needed.
Personally think that everyone should be taking at least some kind of notes anyway, it’s good for staying focused on meeting and allows for people to check their understanding and resolve any misunderstandings quickly. Although it might not be feasible to do it all the time, it might be something good to establish in the culture.
Minutes could be helpful. We actually used to take notes when meetings were small (like 4-5 people) but as attendance grew, the practice faded. I would see the main benefit of note-taking as “Provide a way to self-educate without participating” with no/little benefit to the WGs themselves.
I agree with Punia that WG meeting should be focused and we need to limit the attendance.
I also agree with Joe / Matt that perhaps there’s a need for one publicly facing meeting from those WGs that choose to close their doors. Although most WGs post their progress on the forum on a monthly basis + there’s plenty of other forum posts coming of WGs talking about their initiatives. So, from the accountability perspective, that could be sufficient.
I’m strongly against 20 adding extra 20 minutes to the meetings.
The overarching theme that is worth keeping in mind is that the purpose of WGs is to execute and deliver on impactful initiatives. We should optimise for that, first and foremost. Which, in my mind, means that every WG lead is free to choose a meeting format that they prefer and that helps them execute.
Thanks for the thoughtful feedback Joe. I re-read this after I typed it and it reads more harshly than intended, but I also don’t want to dull it. I think we’re aligned here; however, I do tend to have strong feelings around maintaining transparency. If you don’t mind, I would love for you to expand on the following:
What would be the motivation for having any of the calendared meetings behind closed doors? I can see needs around sensitive data (personal information, off-chain account data, etc.); I struggle to see the benefit of publishing that a WG is meeting ‘x’ times a month but only ‘y’ are ‘open’. Aka, why not schedule discussions around sensitive topics offline and report results in the weekly? You do highlight an important point: how does The Coop collectively think about and manage sensitive data?
I really think it’s important for the process to be transparent on a more regular basis than monthly. The intention of the initial suggestions was to foster discussions around efficiency and accessibility; if the result is a reduction in the number of accessible meetings I will certainly be disappointed - mainly because I would not have nearly the context necessary to be contributing now if these meetings had been closed or less frequent. That said, if a WG meeting can be done in 30-minutes as opposed to 1-hour because the heavy lifting is done in breakout groups throughout the week (as it should be), I’m all for that.
More general notes:
I think a distinction needs to be made between the purpose of the weekly meetings and the operational flexibility that WG leads have. Nearly everything that happens between the weekly meetings is shielded from the community to an extent. Like it or not, the weeklys are currently the only regularly accessible reporting function consistently coming out of WGs that I’m aware of. If the weekly meetings are the primary tool that WG leads are using to drive initiatives forward at a granular level, I would posit that not enough progress is being made within that WG. Further, WG leads have wide discretion regarding the meeting format - most time I have seen wasted in meetings has been the result of said meetings getting too granular and chairs not reining that in.
The gist is, anything that is managed outside of the forums and public discord channels is somewhat ‘centralized’ - and to make meaningful progress under realistic deadlines it has to be - but the only way to reduce the impact and likelihood of scope-drift, inaction, fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement is to be accountable and transparent to the extent possible. The intention of this post was not to delve into the philosophical underpinnings of how to prevent a concentration of power within a community governed and driven organization, but I think it’s important to keep those things top of mind. To my knowledge WG Leaders are compensated via a salary; if a weekly meeting to keep the community informed, keep contributors informed, cross-collaborate and remove blockers is too onerous we need to explore providing ancillary support to those particular WG leads. Essentially, I don’t think that keeping one’s house in order should require closing the shutters. I’d prefer to address the challenge of meeting-effectiveness without reducing frequency, access, or transparency.
Thanks @verto0912 - appreciate the feedback. While I would agree that the mandate of any given WG is to drive a set of initiatives forward, all WGs are empowered by the community to do so. If I hire a contractor to build a house, I expect reporting on progress, and periodic site access to verify that reporting. If that contractor told me that they can’t execute and keep me informed, I’d simply find another. I fully agree that every WG lead should be able to manage the meeting in the way and manner they choose, but not at the expense of transparency.
Given that this is an emerging theme, I would like to hear more about how limiting access to the weekly would enable better productivity? (adding @puniaviision on this question as well)
I addressed this in my comment. Also, to clarify, WGs are empowered by token holders, some of whom are not active community members. That said, I think there’s a sufficient level of transparency and reporting from WGs without having open WG meetings.
On the weekly meeting, I don’t think anyone is suggesting restricting that but maybe I missed this.