Fall 2021 Executive Meeting
The Executive team, made up of the Officers and Directors, meet four times a year to check in as a full group, review our progress together and make some strategic decisions.
The Directors and Officers met on October 16 for our quarterly (Fall) strategic update meeting and had a very productive discussion over several hours. This meeting was focused more on side wide issues and how best to handle them, then on separate department issues.
The members of the Executive team in attendance (however some did not attend the full meeting) were:
- Serinia Edoras, the Amyrlin Seat
- Cassie Dainar as Shatayan
- Toral Delvar as Archivist
- Erin al'Denael as Director of Community Outreach
- Melisande Arneil as Director of Events and Conferences
- Aleita Taviah as Director of Marketing
- Alenya Al'Roran as Director of Membership
- Ilverin Matriam as Director of Research and Records
- Deoan Kakarot as Director of Technology
- Mendo Cath as Director of Technology
No staffing changes to the exec team.
Community Wide Topics
Written by Serinia Sedai, the Amyrlin Seat
Community Distress: What's going on, and moving forward
Though these meetings traditionally focus on department updates and goals that benefit from collaboration with the other departments, this meeting focused more on topics impacting the community and our daily work. We started with a review of recent community distress and what else we could do to address it. Our approach was first to try to define the problem and important contributing factors such as differing methods to achieve our responsibilities, and communication styles, and isolation (for us in large part resulting from a lack of RL Events). After defining the problem we spent time clarifying our goals and what success looks like. We agreed that some of our goals should continue to support our mission of “creating fun, engaging experiences designed to support each other and our communities” by focusing on our cornerstones, and some specific examples of how we want to do this include:
- Resolving issues/conflicts quickly, efficiently, and fairly
- Communicating decisions more efficiently
- Better support our membership - those that are new and those that have decades of experience
- Recognizing and validating the feelings/emotions of each member without taking ownership for those emotions or responsibility for solving them
After clarifying our goals we talked through options for how we could meet them. This included leveraging fresh perspectives from incoming members of the team (notably the future Keeper), focusing on the positive and reward activities that support our mission (Awards for creating fun), increased communication and face-to-face connections, rolling out updated policies that have been in progress for a while (some of these you’ve seen, some are still coming soon), clarifying effective paths for feedback, and potentially shifting roles/responsibilities to better reflect the paramount concern of member satisfaction. Following this, we then discussed the way forward, and how we want to improve. Some of these changes are structural and complicated, some of them are as simple as an individual making a change. The more structural and strategic changes need to be reviewed by the incoming keeper when they are identified, but some of the smaller changes can be implemented more quickly. For example, I’m working on a separate post to clarify things that I’m going to change and will be posted separate from these notes (probably in site announcements) and part of that post will be focused on clarifying boundaries. Other changes we’re working on include:
- Reverting the usage of this forum to its original design – sharing executive meeting notes on a quarterly basis – but also clarifying how feedback can be shared and creating a new forum dedicated to sharing ideas and feedback. This new forum will be available to members at all levels, but recognizing that the new members of the organization will not yet have informed-enough opinions or experiences, and that this forum could include discussion of strategies that reflect significant context, access to the forum will begin after 1 year of membership.
- We also want to publish a guide to provide reminders or clarifications on key parts of our membership organization. This is not only for new people joining the site but for others who might have had different experiences. The guide would include topics such as “This is who your Membership admin is and this is what they are there for…. They are your advocate and you can reach out to them any time! Here’s how…”
Why We Serve
After the extensive discussion on improving membership support, we spent some time to share with each other why we each chose to dedicate so much time and energy and devotion to our community. This was something that I asked each of the execs to reflect on in advance of the meeting and everyone either shared their thoughts in advance or during the meeting. This isn’t something we’ve done historically, but, candidly, this has been a hard time for our team. We often feel attacked or that our work is not making the impact we expect or hope for. I wanted to take time to be sure we still felt that our work was making a difference and that the team was not solely sticking with their roles out of a sense of obligation. It was a powerful, emotional conversation. The reasons ranged from a sense of duty to enjoying the specific tasks of an individual role to opportunities for personal growth to believing in the unique value our community plays within the WoT Community and that we have the power to be a force for good in a lot of people's lives. One person shared “I’m just here for the merits.” But we’re pretty sure they were kidding.
We then reviewed Department updates and plans:
Community Outreach provided updates on the Great Charity Hunt and plans for Shaoman. We also began a discussion for watch parties for the tv show and took those offline to work on the details.
Events and Conferences
Events & Conferences shared information on Virtual Anni and plans for 2022 events. We also discussed the option for leveraging Airbnb or VRBO for future events.
Marketing shared progress on the podcast, as well as plans for swapping out the main page (previously announced), and preparing social campaigns for the tv show release.
Research and Records
Research & Records included discussions on the next steps for the annual report and for formally publishing the Membership survey results.
Technology discussion was more lengthy and focused on how we are using Discord. This included:
- A review of the opportunity for Discord Server Boosting which we agreed was a good opportunity that we will continue to monitor for growth and potential future benefits that may be within budget.
We also reviewed how Discord was originally designed – in that the intent was to not support private discord channels for specific membership groups (e.g. Ajah forums, not departmental channels). This direction may not have been consistently shared over time. We do not want to change the original intent at this time based on structure, support, and membership.
- Guest access: Discord is currently locked down to active members who have gotten past guest but was previously open to guests. We agreed that Discord should be reopened for guests and casual members with exceptions for requested channels or roles such as non-event voice. The “Tiny Humans” area will remain locked down for privacy issues, but everything else will remain open and hopefully encourage casual visitors to consider joining as members on the forums.
- We discussed the use of discord in the future of our community. We all agreed that services such as Discord, Live Chat, previously IRC and other platforms are important complements to the forums but our intent is to continue to leverage the forums as our primary platform.
- We also reviewed how some of the positions within the technology department were being revised based on available support and skill sets such as MotW. More details to come.
- Finally, we discussed the opportunities and prioritization for themes, specifically for a dark mode. There are some technical constraints and we cannot guarantee these will work for all platforms or future site versions, but we do want to move forward with the creation of additional themes as long as those requests do not overload the graphics team.
Last, but certainly not least, the membership department update focused on a review of the current barriers to joining our community – specifically the post count expectations. We’ve already been following up on this and are considering revising the process for becoming a citizen.
The last thing we talked about was our plans for our next meeting. Though we traditionally do not meet in November or December we agreed that there would be benefit in meeting again after the new Keeper is identified.