[Osmf-talk] OSMF board face to face meeting (F2F) facilitation.

Mikel Maron mikel.maron at gmail.com
Fri Dec 21 10:40:11 UTC 2018

I'll also add that Gunner has supported the last 3 OSMF Board F2F meetings with remote guidance to us on how to structure a collectively set agenda, and self facilitated meeting.

This starts with a short questionnaire to each Board member with some reflective questions like "what would be the most important things for the *board as a whole* to achieve at this event?" and "what topics do you think board members are most likely to disagree on or desire to debate?". We then group the responses by topic areas, identify collective top priorities, and figure out best format to tackle each. This broadly takes the form of exercises that help with idea generation and identification of common goals, and time to work deeply on a topic towards an end. Everything is obsessively documented for ourselves, and we put focus on capturing actions at the end (Dorothea has been very helpful with this). We've been intending to share notes from last year, but I think just need to make a final review to not disclose anything that's sensitive in nature (these are rare). In the mean time, Peter has written up reviews of the past years on the OSM blog.
One of the most helpful pieces of guidance are things like the "rule of 1", "rule of N". Only one person speaks at a time, and everyone gives them full attention. And in a group of N people, you individually should aim to speak 1/N of the time. Part of Peter's parting recommendations to the Board is that we adopt the rule of N in our meetings and email communication (maybe we should do the same here on osmf-talk ;).
I've taken on the responsibility to coordinate the preparation for Board meetings the past 3 years. It's a lot of work to both do this coordination, and participate fully in the meeting itself. While the 5 of us who have continued on the Board this year are very well practiced at this structure of Board F2F meeting, I think we all agree that for this year we'd like external help.
Concerning cultural diversity, I have experienced Gunner's facilitation in some of the most diverse groups of people imaginable -- digital activists from every corner of the world. He is extremely skilled at creating a space where everyone feels ready willing and able to take part. 
If we were able to align schedules with Gunner, he'll serve us extremely well. There are other people to consider as well.  As Frederik said, we haven't even gotten to that point yet.
ps As you can imagine, there are other perspectives on the purpose and methods of Gunner's support to HOT, but I feel no need to go into it here.

* Mikel Maron * +14152835207 @mikel s:mikelmaron 

    On Friday, December 21, 2018, 5:03:54 AM EST, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:  

I see your points but I don't think they are an issue for us.

Regarding diversity, if you are looking for a facilitator is it then not
best to have someone who offers *least* diversity? The role of a
facilitator is not to bring in new ideas but to bring out what's in
those they are working with.

Regarding Allen's history of working with other organisations, I browsed
the links you sent and it seems that you are mostly concerned about
Allen having advised HOT US Inc, on several occasions, to be less open
than you would have liked.

This was in the context of HOT US Inc asking themselves how to best
"become a multi-million dollar organization" (quote from Severin's
document). In such a context, dropping openness and transparency (which
can often mean a cacophony of voices) in favour of a streamlined
narrative to appeal to donors can very well be the right approach! But
the OSMF doesn't strive to become a multi-million dollar organization so
I think you don't have to worry here.

We discussed using Allen as a facilitator, not a business consultant.
The facilitator will certainly not be granted (quote from Severin) "a
growing importance in the strategic decisions of the organization". We
are not looking for strategic advice from Allen, just for the service to
help conducting a meeting.

A good facilitator helps people in a meeting express themselves and work
constructively. It is not the role of the facilitator to convince people
of one idea or another. Taken to the extreme, if a facilitator works
with a board of crooks aspiring to world domination through crime, then
the role of the facilitator is to help them to come up with the best
possible action plan for world domination through crime - not to make
them see the error of their ways an become good people.

I've worked with Allen in one board meeting in the past and while I
found his style a bit too American for my taste, I never had the
impression that he was recommending something that wasn't already there
in the people attending. I do not recall any advice to (quote from
Severin again) "speak externally with (that) one voice".

Having said all that, there are many other people out there who can
certainly fill the role of facilitator just as well. We haven't even
discussed timing and location yet, and Allen might not even be available
at the time and location we choose. Asking Allen to facilitate the
meeting has been *suggested* at yesterday's board meeting, it hasn't
been *decided*.


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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