Community Rhythms

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Overview

"A group that isn't communicating regularly doesn't exist as a group."

Richard D. Bartlett, during a workshop by the Hum.

As part of our Commitment Statement, the GT team prioritises steady communication and team rhythms. These rhythms are largely adapted from Rich Bartlett's Patterns for Decentralised Organising.

Some of the following was discussed during our two Hervás 2018 meetings.

Communications Rhythms summary

Clear communication is one of GT's core values. To ensure that these values are taken care of we have agreed to adapt the Rhythms from Rich's book. New members who are not used to these rhythms will have a "ease-in" period where they will be mentored and reminded about the rhythms by committed Guerrilla Translators until they pick up the beat.

On that note, within GT we've agreed to gently remind each other of the commitment to these rhythms. This shouldn't be seen as negative or a critique, but as mutual support. It's important we all agree to help each other and to be attentive when being reminded.

The Rhythms go from Daily, Weekly, Biweekly, Monthly, Quarterly and Biannually:

Daily: Check-in

Everyone (unless on holiday or sabbatical) is expected to "check in" during workdays on Slack's Daily Check-in thread. Yes, even if you're not doing any GT work that day. That's fine, but still check in. We have adapted the four questions used in Loomio. When you check in please answer them briefly:

  • what did you do yesterday?
  • how are you doing today?
  • do you have any blocks or problems?
  • what are you doing for your wellbeing?

When checking in on a Monday, you just mention what you did on Friday. By using Toggl you'll have no trouble remembering, just look back at what you did the last day.

Feel enabled to express yourself and your emotional state. No additional conversation needs to take place in "Daily Check in", just acknowledgement (for example, a thumbs-up beneath each person's check-in). We can always follow up on the #general, #random, thematic Slack channels or personal messages.

If you're going on holidays, disconnecting from the Internet etc, please communicate it. Otherwise all committed members are counted as "active". We expect that this will take 5 minutes maximum a day. Also, the focus here is mainly on GT work, but if you haven't done any GT work, just tell us what you're doing (this includes "Nothing" "I'm in a bad mood and can't get any work done, etc". It's OK)

Weekly: Check Loomio and Trello

If you are going to do any GT work, we suggest that you check Loomio and your Trello updates daily. If not, please check every two or three days (Tuesday and Thursday, for example). We are continually making decisions and having discussions on Loomio which will affect you, so your voice is needed. Votes are usually set for three days - it's OK if you don't look at it every day, but if you miss it it creates trouble for those who are working more actively.

Bi-weekly: Sprint

"Start by agreeing to this fortnight's work, end by celebrating progress"

We have a biweekly calls (minimum 30 mins, max 1 hour) to retrospect, celebrate and decide on what we will concentrate on for the next two weeks. To see how Loomio does it, please read this section of their handbook.

Our biweekly sprint meetings have a template structure:

  1. We begin with a quick check in round: "How are you feeling?"
  2. We kick off the sprint by highlighting and discussing the current month on our interactive timeline. This is an excellent diagnostic tool to see whether we are progressing, what is needed etc. Once the month is highlighted, we go through every line/goal and discuss progress and needs while noting "to-dos" (which will eventually be added to a Trello checklist).
  3. We then quickly go through our Trello boards in the following Areas: Care Work; Love Work; Livelihood Work and Projects. Items that have been discussed during the Timeline exercise are ignored.
  4. We finalise by having each member bring up additional points or concerns which may not have been addressed.
  5. Coda: we agree to the date for the next sprint and go through a quick availability check for the following two weeks. We also agree on who will host the next call (see below).


All members are expected to do a little bit of housekeeping and preparation prior to the call to keep it as smooth as possible. At the midway point of the sprint (one week after the call) members should have a short private retrospective (checking the timeline, priorities and due dates on Trello) and check in with the team over IM over any doubts or if priorities have shifted.

We try to make things snappy in a good natured way: what this means is that if we start to belabour a point too much we signal that for discussion on Loomio or an additional VOIP call if needed.

Even though we are an online collective, the bi-weekly sprint call isn't meant to be a "catch-up". We expect everyone to be aware of the pulse and mood of the collective through the daily check-in, asynchronous communications, mutual support and mentoring, bi-lateral calls and all our communications in Loomio and Trello. The sprint call doesn't substitute any of these community-building actions and it's kept task and goals oriented (while also being convivial and celebratory!).

We don't take notes or summarize the sprint call. Partly because when anything "big" needs to be reflected, we follow up on Loomio. After the call, members also note their to-dos on Trello. We also want to encourage everyone to join the calls (they're fun!) and not feel that they can "just read the summary". We are able to do this because good daily and weekly communication rhythms ensure that everyone is in sync.

We rotate "Hosts": Hosts are the moderators of the call. They lead the conversation and ensure that everyone's opinion is heard. The host prepares for the call and reads out the various items to be discussed,provides necessary hyperlinks and, in general, keeps the flow going. To ensure focus, hosts can urge the team to move certain conversations to Loomio when needed- They also update progress in the interactive timeline and change the due dates in the Trello cards.

Monthly: Finances and Payout

Following the Monthly Payment Pipeline section of our Governance Model, once expenses are settled, we pay down accumulated credit shares on a per month basis. In the future we'd like these payments to be automatised. As of writing (August 2018) this work needs to be done by the Legal/Finance circle.

Quarterly: Retrospective

Quarterly objective: Shared focus and high autonomy.

This is where we analyse the previous three months and whether everyone has kept to the agreed-on commitments, whether we need to make any changes etc. It also coincides with our onboarding of new team members. These quarters take place in the week or so between the equinoxes and solstices and traditional corporate quarters. We characterise them as:

  • Winter (Dec 21st, Jan 1st)
  • Spring (March 21s, April 1st)
  • Summer (Jun 21-Jul 1st)
  • Autumn (Sept 21st - Oct 1st).

Here is what the Loomio Handbook has to say about their quarterly meetings:

Every quarter, we have an away day (preceded and followed by various preparation and workshops), where we take stock of where we are relative to our overall vision, annual plan, and emerging reality, and decide what to focus on for the coming 3 months. This allows us to update our understanding of our annual plan as we learn more, and the world changes, and adjust course accordingly.

Read the rest here (scroll down to "quarterly").

Quarterly Retrospective protocol

During the quarterly retrospective, we undertake:

  • An examination of where we are relative to our overall vision.
  • A discussion about our focus for the next three months.
  • Working together retrospective: What works and doesn't (feels, vibe, particular grievances, particular systems and processes, etc).
  • A discussion on power and sense of fairness in the collective.
  • A review of whether we've upheld the agreed-on commitments.
  • Evaluation of Dating member's progress, including their quarterly milestones. This includes feedback on their GT buddies.
  • A specific Credit Retrospective for the quarter. Read the link to find out more.
  • An Hours retrospective which is contrasted to the results of the Credit Retrospective above.
  • The official onboarding of new Dating Translators, this includes their Commitment Statement.
  • Renewal of all current member's commitment statements.
  • Discussion and approval of changes to the Governance model.
  • Update our Roles/Availability Mapping with summary of changes and specifying Working Circles.
  • Evaluate the Quarterly Retrospective process: what you liked, what can be improved etc
  • Recording: Ensuring that everyone has access to and approves of the meeting notes (and whether to share them via a blog post, newsletter article, etc

Bi-Annually or Annually: Retreats

Retreats: Build relationships + trust + vibe.

This is where we do our best to get together in person to hang out, ritualize intent, go dancing etc. We may also speak about work (specially when the biannual or annual retreat coincides with a quarterly evaluation) but that would be kept to one specific day and no more. If the other communication rhythms are "in time" we won't need to get into worky stuff so much and can concentrate on having some much needed offline but on-LIFE time and share our feelings in creative, supportive and convivial ways.

Yearly Planning and Mid-term Strategy

This slower rhythm deserves a section of its own. Our yearly planning and long term strategy includes inviting external peers (our "extended family") to help us think creatively about the collective's goals and vision for the future.

In May of 2018 we held the very successful Guerrilla Translation Reloaded Meeting. It is our intention to invite the same expanded team, along with any new team members to share a similar, convivial space every year. Similar to the 2018 workshop, this will be a combination of celebratory community time and strategic discussions. These workshops, however, should not coincide with our biannual or annual collective retreats (which can be held on the next quarter, i.e., the beginning of Summer, with an in-team follow up).

Ongoing Strategy

Our general priorities and strategy are detailed in our Interactive Timeline. The timeline allows us to discuss and easily visualize how close we are to our projected goals and the changes we may need to make.

More information on our 2018-20 timeline may be found here.

Conclusion

The more we communicate the less we have to work. Seriously! It makes everyone more responsible, and helps create a shared sense of ownership.

If when reading this, you've thought to yourself "It's too much!!", please say so in our dedicated Community Rhythms Loomio thread. Let's have a discussion, let's speak about our commitment and what we are prepared to do. All opinions are welcome but, please, don't keep it to yourself if you disagree.

If you need help keeping the rhythms present, be open to the team's help, we all want to remind and help each other. We also suggest printing the image above and keeping it visible in our workplaces.

More Resources