Organizational Growth and Advancement (cross-posted)

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Janet Rossini
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Organizational Growth and Advancement (cross-posted)

Post by Janet Rossini » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:20 pm

This is cross-posted from the closed Sites, Staff, and Land list, for your reading and commenting pleasure.

Let's think a bit about how organizations grow and advance, and what that might mean for NCI.

Of course an early question is always: do we need to grow and/or advance? Generally speaking, any enterprise that answers "no" has set itself on a possibly long, possibly short, path to irrelevance. But that is a valid choice. Any organization has the right to say "We are what we are, and if the world doesn't need what we have, so be it."

Why might NCI want to grow and advance?

Second Life is growing and changing around us. There is new technology, such as sculpts, which we have now, and meshes coming soon. There are new people, and new types of people, such as the recent influx from the teen grid. These things require adaptation: when someone asks a question at Q&A or at one of our sites, we would do well to be equipped to answer it.

We might wish to review the changes that have come and are coming, and adjust our information boards, our notecards, our classes, ourselves, to deal better with those changes. And, of course, we might not want to do any of that, determining that we are "good enough".

In what ways might NCI want to improve?

There are, of course, many dimensions across which we might improve. Some will certainly pay off better than others. Some possibilities include:
  • We might continually upgrade our course content and add new courses on new topics.
  • We might upgrade our locations to be more attractive.
  • We might upgrade our signs to be more current and more complete.
  • We might create new social events, or modify old ones, to attract more, or different, people.
Now, of course, we do a bit of this all the time. Is it sufficient to make us the best we can be? That's what would need to be decided.

How might we know how we are doing?

We might wish to measure things, looking at how things are statically, and how they vary over time. For example, we might think about land:
  • How does our land usage vary, by location, by area within location, by time of day, over longer periods?
  • What does that tell us about land usage and our general need for land (and tier)?
  • Are we getting value, in terms of people served, for the land we have?
  • What changes to land or landscaping would give our clients a better experience?
We might think about new citizens and the service they get:
  • How do people find us?
  • Do they come back? How often?
  • Do they get answers to their questions, or do they just wander around?
  • Do they get value from wandering around?
  • How many new arrivals join NCI? How many take a landmark? How many become active?
We might think about our freebies:
  • What percentage of new citizens use our freebies?
  • Can they figure out how to use the vendors?
  • Do they find what they want?
  • Would some other arrangement of freebies better serve their needs?
All of these things could, in principle, be measured. Should we measure all of them? Almost certainly not. Could we benefit from starting to measure them? Yes, unless knowing more about how things are going is somehow bad.

How might we improve?

This is, of course, wide open. If we knew more about how things are going, some needs would become clear, and in other areas we might see no need to improve at this time. I would expect that the need to improve is always around: there's always something that it's worth doing better. We might do any number of things. These are not suggestions, just examples:
  • We might reallocate our land to more explicit different purposes.
  • We might dispose of some land, acquire other land, more valuable to our purposes.
  • We might upgrade signs, or landscape so as to guide people to good places to be.
  • We might create new events, new courses, new experiences.
  • ... and on and on. The most important items on this list may be the ones we haven't even thought of yet.
How might we organize to improve?

To begin with, we would have to become open to the possibility that things could be and should be better. Today, this is largely not the case. The standard position of some of us is that everything is OK and that all change is bad. Others are probably open to things happening but choose not to contribute to the ideas. Others -- I include myself in this list -- would like to see change but do not have the time and energy in world to do the work.

Others -- and this is where everything happens -- grab the ball and do something.

But we are not really organized for this to happen: it just happens. When it does happen, the most common response is to decry it and to get in the way. This one doesn't like a pastoral look in South. That one thinks our dress code is on the road to hell. This other one has these other objections.

An all too common result is that people work hard on something and get nothing but criticism. (I am mindful that K&B, who worked on rules, may feel that just happened to them.) It happens, not because people are evil, but because we are not organized for change.

We are organized for individual action, not for joint projects. Anyone who owns an area can do anything in it. No one who does not own the area can do anything in it, unless they get permission, and often not even then.

We are organized for top-down projects, not for volunteer projects. We make up ideas like "update the landmark givers", then look for someone to do it. We don't give them clear guidelines, and we do make them submit to the objections of everyone in Second Life.

We could be organized differently. We could work like this:
  • Have a list of needs readily available, managed near the "top" of NCI, listing what the "top" want, but also listing things that residents think would be nice to improve. Ideally, we would prioritize this list, at least into high, medium, low, no.
  • For high priority items at least, we would agree on the overall goals, and on any guidelines for the effort. We would publish these along with the list. If someone wanted to take on an effort for which we had not set forth goals and guidelines, we would quickly convene to create them.
  • When someone wanted to take on an effort, we would assign one (1) senior person (not necessarily an SLO) to guide them and to serve as liaison. This person's sole purpose would be to help the volunteer get the job done successfully. They would not manage the volunteer so much as serve as coach, and as shield. Shield? Yes. When some random oldbie starts complaining about how the volunteer is doing their job, the volunteer can say "See my coach. My coach is satisfied. That's my job."
There might be other ways to be organized. We have tried Gramma's approach, which I would characterize as strong hierarchic management. That didn't work well. In my opinion it didn't work well because this is a volunteer organization in a volunteer world. People come to SL, and to NCI, not to have a job but to exercise their skills and interests. If our structure is to be effective, it needs to address that reality.

We are presently trying a sort of non-approach. We neither provide a vision, nor do we provide a place for people with parts of the vision to elaborate them. The result of our approach is what we have, which I think could fairly be characterized as frustration all around, plenty for everyone. My guess is that that's not good.

There might be other approaches. I favor self-organization around shared goals, supported by information. I would like to see NCI work that way.

Failing that approach, I would like to see NCI work in some way. Presently, in my opinion, it's not working at all. It's just drifting. I think NCI deserves better; I think its senior members deserve better; I think new citizens deserve better.
I don't work here: I volunteer here. I don't have duties: I have small gifts which I offer.

Janet Rossini
NCI Supporter
http://valkyriejanet.wordpress.com

Imnotgoing Sideways
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Re: Organizational Growth and Advancement (cross-posted)

Post by Imnotgoing Sideways » Tue Mar 01, 2011 7:18 pm

I don't know how much more I can contribute to the group. If anything, I'd like to know of any efforts I'm hindering so that I can get out of the way. At this point, I think the best I can do is keep the infonodes attractive eye-catches.

I work a full time job and still use SL as a form of entertainment. I'm pretty much at the limit of what I'm capable of contributing. I wish I could do more. The time and resources simply aren't available to me.

Carl, Des, and Prok all insist that I was a crucial factor for the "destruction" of NCI. So, when I see the community fall into a tailspin like this, I'm scared s***less. My message to anyone hindering the progress of the group: I will not be your scapegoat. I will work to be a benefit to the community with or without your approval.

I hope other people will take the same initiative.

The year is 2011.

The SL culture has changed from the past.

Linden Lab has a new CEO.

We can't properly support the newcomers with information anchored in 2005.

Adfarms, pyramids, and HippiePay are things of the past.

Copybot, TPVs, and IP address grabbers are current topics on the forums.

Build tools, texture techniques, appearance standards have all advanced over time.

NCI is supposed to be a new resident help group of volunteers, not a museum of SL mainland past. At least, that's how I see it. With that in mind, I see the target activities being:

[*]Attract new users.
[*]Provide a means of 'discovery' in order to guide people who are in need of help to NCI as a resource.
[*]Help the people we've attracted with the most current information available.
[*]Educate people in the most productive and entertaining ways possible.
[*]Provide land and locations to facilitate these tasks.
[*]Be the change we want to see.
[*]Be the best resource available to the new user of Second Life.

I was able to cheerlead a team of very creative people into building an entire sim worth of education and help resources. They did an excellent job. They could have done it without me. But EVERYONE was afraid to stand up, take a stand, and put any effort into making things happen.

This is Second Life. You can find nearly anything here. If you can't find it, make it. If you can't make it, learn how. If you can't learn how, find someone who can do it for you.
What would life be like in a world without nipples? =^-^=

toy lafollette
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Re: Organizational Growth and Advancement (cross-posted)

Post by toy lafollette » Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:21 am

Ahhh Immy, dont let the crap get to you... have fun as I do, enjoy SL, enjoy NCI. Avoid the infighting and remember you have many friends... also avoid the politics that swirl under the surface of NCI. Enjoy yourself, I surely do :)

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