Talk:Volunteer strategy consultation 2015

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This is a good place to provide general feedback on the volunteer strategy consultation

I welcome all attempts to bring more volunteers into the charity's activities and I'm glad that the Board and Office are taking steps to encourage that.

However, as I was a strong proponent of non-board committees as a means of attracting more volunteers into regular activity in liaison with the Board and Office, I am naturally disappointed to see the suggestion of replacing them with working groups. Working groups are, by definition, made up of subject specialists, focussed on singular objectives, and time-limited by nature. When a working group has accomplished its task, it disbands. I would suggest that those features are precisely the features that we do not want if we are to encourage greater participation by volunteers. We need volunteer groups to be open, so that nobody feels they don't have the expertise to contribute; we need them to be responsive to change in their focus; we need them to have the ability to consider multiple topics in their area of interest; and we need them to have a continuous existence, preferably independent of the Board and Office, to allow them the additional role of "critical friend" of each of those. --RexxS (talk) 15:30, 5 June 2015 (BST)

Thanks @RexxS:. Guess we should've checked Wikipedia(!). So the intention here is to have a fairly open discussion about how we should define these groups - so feedback on scope and composition is useful. But more importantly in this case it certainly isn't our intention to imply that the working groups should be temporary or made up solely of subject experts. They might be closer to 'special interest groups' (more permanent and composed of people with that interest, as the OKF seems to use) but that maybe implies (1) expertise is required, and (2) that they're almost peripheral to core activity (which is of course not the intention here). Maybe we need to think of another name? Sjgknight (talk) 15:41, 5 June 2015 (BST)
This may be an issue with nomenclature rather than of substance. My own view of the working groups is that they should be open, entirely flexible as to membership, and should be formed wherever and whenever a group of volunteers thinks that working in a focused way would be useful or interesting. Groups would normally be permanent, unless some volunteers wanted to set up a temporary group for some time-limited task. Members needn't be subject specialists, but would have a common interest in some area of work, and a desire to work with the charity and other volunteers towards a common aim. The group itself would define that aim, and could change it whenever they wanted. Groups can and indeed should be flexible in what they focus on, and if a group wants to address multiple topics or to dive into some specific area that should be fine. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 15:57, 5 June 2015 (BST)
<irony>You mean a bit like the present non-board committees?</irony> Seriously, if there are aspects of the current committees that are not satisfactory, then reform is better than revolution, in my humble opinion. --RexxS (talk) 19:40, 5 June 2015 (BST)

Comments from Mike

  • +1 to Doug's comments above. Hopefully it is just an argument about the terminology - personally I don't think that 'working group' or 'committee' is the right word to use. 'task force' might be a bit closer to the mark, perhaps? But certainly, the existing committees should be evolved and added to, rather than being scrapped and replaced with something new (or allowed to die a silent death, as the conference committee was!).
  • I really don't like the idea of a 'Volunteer engagement panel'. This is a central responsibility of the board and staff, and volunteer engagement should be considered with every action that WMUK takes: it's really not something that should be delegated to a panel. If you need advice on how to engage volunteers, then an advisory board would be a much better way to get such support rather than having a panel.
  • The phrase 'Evaluation panel' made me think of metrics and tracking, but this isn't what the panel does. I think it's essentially a replacement for the grants committee? If so, it needs a better name, but otherwise sounds sensible.
  • Rather than setting up GLAM and education advisory boards, I'd recommend just having a single advisory board to WMUK, as that's going to be simpler to operate in the long run, and makes it easier to add members that can advise on non-GLAM and -education issues.

Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:49, 7 June 2015 (BST)

Thanks Mike, I think these are mostly terminology issues - certainly important to pin those down though. To specifically address your concern re: volunteer engagement panel:
  1. the new project oriented approach to working is intended to ensure that "volunteer engagement should be considered with every action that WMUK takes",
  2. the panel isn't intended to "engage volunteers", but rather to advise on how best to do so. That might include looking at questions around volunteer support, training, recognition, etc. This might be an advisory board, but it's likely to involve more of an 'internal' movement/WMUK group, while the advisory boards are likely to include external experts (e.g. GLAM, or/and other groups as needed - likely to start with GLAM & develop as required).
Sjgknight (talk) 10:47, 8 June 2015 (BST)
Perhaps 'volunteering advisory panel' would be more descriptive. MichaelMaggs (talk) 11:20, 8 June 2015 (BST)

Other chapters

Formalisms apart, this seems similar to what other chapters have been doing for a while. For instance, wmit:Direttivo lists Virginia Gentilini as the spokeperson for GLAM stuff (more or less) and she's a non-voting member of the board's mailing list etc., as well as the chair of an unstructured working group of members who care about that sort of stuff.

Making things more formal is useful if you want to set some stable process, e.g. to establish that partnership proposals first go through a certain committee to reduce the load of the board. WMIT, and probably several chapters like WMIT, receive continuous requests of partnerships and collaboration, which drain a lot of time from the board until they are ready for examination.

Also interesting in this regard are the WMCH (staff) GLAM team, the Scottish and Dutch "wikimedians in special residence", the WMFR process for activities. --Nemo bis (talk) 07:47, 15 June 2015 (BST)