Point People

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The idea of having point people for each committee was posed in response to a general feeling that our committees can function poorly from time to time and a desire to increase the efficiency of our work and make it easier for everyone to know where to direct their suggestions and concerns. At Free Geek we began to discuss this in earnest after hearing how other worker collectives operate (in early 2008).

I wrote my "current thoughts" to the discussion page Luiz 21:48, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

Current thoughts on duties

These roles have not yet been clearly defined. After first being introduced early in the year, the idea received only informal discussion over several months in fits and starts. More recently there has been more discussion:

First stab in RT
Point People for Committees
to make them function better. someone who can call off a meeting if it's not needed, do a little leg work up front to make it work, and be the person who "officially" knows who is doing what.
From C7 minutes Aug 16, 2008
  • point people for committees (ticket 10977)
    • why do we think this is important?
      • stuff gets dropped because no one is responding, people feel unmotivated or burnt out at inefficient meetings, etc.
      • a point person can make sure the committee is prepared to do its job & is doing its job
    • responsibilities for point person include
      • preparing the meeting agenda, make sure folks are following through, and keep the group focused, motivated, and efficient
      • if there is no need to meet, point person communicates this prior to the meeting
      • as primary email responder, they triage incoming requests/issues and delegate tasks to the group
From C7 minutes Sep 16, 2008
  • Point Person suggestions
    • This role does not mean they facilitate but they pick a facilitator & scribe, gather topics, decide if meeting, assigning tickets, following up & poking)
C7 sent an email out to each committee containing a paragraph like this one (to Action)
A point person can make sure the committee is prepared to do its job & is doing its job well. The point person would be responsible for a number of things. He/she would be the primary responder of emails and would triage incoming requests/issues (and delegate tasks if needed). A point person would prepare the meeting agenda, make sure folks are following through with projects, and keep the group focused, motivated, and efficient. If there were no need to meet, the point person would communicate this to minimize coming in unnecessarily. He/she would be the person who "officially" knows who is doing what and what's going on. A point person should NOT be the automatic facilitator or scribe at every meeting.
A collective member raised some issues on the staff list
Having the agenda be prepared and have commitments "enforced" by a single person would confer an undue (and unhelpful) amount of influence on a single person. If this person happened to be one of a number of highly aggressive individuals at this organization, the meetings would quickly devolve into simply running errands for the Grand Poobah of the meeting. This is a bad idea. Point person=good idea. Point person/agenda setter=bad idea.
Another collective member offered this in response
I have had these concerns as well, perhaps from a slightly different perspective.
I agree with some of these points. I would suggest that the point person function as an overseer & guide. They don't even need to prep the agenda as that is a facilitator's job, but the point person can definitely support the facilitator to ensure all items are included on the agenda. And, point person can support scribe with the accuracy of the minutes.
I see point person role as follows:
  • appoint facilitator
  • appoint scribe
  • ensure minutes get out in a timely manner with proper notes
  • help facilitator with agenda, as needed (gather all items that show up in email, tickets, conversation or agenda itself)
  • guide facilitator & scribe, as needed
  • ensure meeting poke goes out
  • ensure facilitator & scribe rotate fairly
  • remind folks of commits between meetings
  • cancel or add meetings as needed to suit projects
  • report on committee at staff meeting
I fear, as a point person and with a very tiny group, that I am already doing multiple roles and finding it overwhelming, trying to scribe, see notes, facilitate & lead the focus as a whole. Makes for a messy, slow-progressing meeting.
I'm hoping being the point person now will help me set a clearer boundary and allow me to lean on others in the group to scribe and facilitate and generally delegate more fairly, the tasks at hand.

Related topics

Meetings are not the only activity of a committee, but have been central to this discussion. Here are a couple of wiki pages that should be familiar to everyone by now:

  • Meeting Tips -- This has been on the wiki since the beginning of 2005 and all new staff hires are introduced to it when hired (if the procedure is followed). It outlines the roles of facilitator, scribe, and presenter in a fair amount of detail.
  • Doing stuff before meetings -- This is a newer and shorter page dealing with what participants should do to prepare for meetings.
  • Scribe -- This is a more detailed explanation of what a scribe does.
  • Please also add to this page: Ideas for Making Committees Work Better to weigh in on other strategies for addressing this core concern. Do not put discussions of Point People here.

Existing point people

from another page

Background

Here is where you can ascertain which folks are the Point Person for each committee. Read on for an explanation of what a Point Person is/does.

C7 has been discussing an idea that has been floating around Free Geek for quite a while now. Namely, selecting a "point person" for each committee. Why do we think this is a good idea? It can be really frustrating for important stuff to fall between the cracks, get dropped, or take a really long time to resolve because no one in a committee knows what's going on with it. This can happen with incoming emails or topics discussed in meetings. Committee members may feel unmotivated or burnt out if meetings are inefficient or if one person ends up shouldering a large burden of the committee's work. These are just a few reasons.

A point person can make sure the committee is prepared to do its job & is doing its job well. The point person would be responsible for a number of things. He/she would be the primary responder of emails and would triage incoming requests/issues (and delegate tasks if needed). A point person would prepare the meeting agenda, make sure folks are following through with projects, and keep the group focused, motivated, and efficient. If there were no need to meet, the point person would communicate this to minimize coming in unnecessarily. He/she would be the person who "officially" knows who is doing what and what's going on. A point person should NOT be the automatic facilitator or scribe at every meeting.

Specific Point People

  • Action =
  • C7 = Richard
  • HR = Ali
  • Knowledge Bees =
  • PR =
  • Inreach = Mary Kate
  • Propagation =
  • Reuse =
  • Technocrats =
  • Receiving =
  • Space Usage =
  • Priorities =