Ways to Work Together (From New Orleans)

I’ve never come to New Orleans with enough time to be here. I need to come down here some time when I can really explore the place.

This trip I am working with the staff of the Parents Organizing Network, moving quickly through 5 year, 3 year, and 1 year visions, creating work plans, outcomes, organizational culture guidelines, a decision making process, and a way to evaluate each other.

Each time I go through this process with a group, or with Ruckus, I am reminded that there a million ways to approach ANY organizing work. And then there are a few ways that just tend to work for groups a little better than the rest. These tools are especially useful for folks who are the category I like to call “The Reluctant E.D.*”

Reminders this time:

1. Check-ins between peer staff, or with a supervisor, can be structured as covering:

a) accomplishments for the last week (or past two weeks, whatever the period is between check-ins),
b) challenges for the last work period,
c) goals for the next week or work period,
d) feedback from peer/supervisor,
e) feedback TO peer/supervisor,
f) and a check-in personally (anything in your LIFE that may effect the WORK).

This allows the whole person and the work to be tracked and supported.

2. Create an annual work plan, and a decision matrix! Show who is responsible for what work, and roughly when in the schedule/timeline it should happen (even if its only what quarter or month, planning a day’s work a year out can be unrealistic), and who is allowed to make the daily decisions within that area of work. I have templates for this that I can send folks!! This doesn’t make things perfect, but it HELPS!

3. Hold a space regularly (once a month, once a quarter, whatever you need) for clearing the air. Stuff builds up between people simply because they are not the same exact person. Difference can be a strength or a weakness – its a strength when its acknowledged, celebrated, and invited to the table. It’s a weakness when it only serves to divide and confuse.

4. Think about the internal culture. Is it a culture of strong consensus? Appreciation? Structure and agendas? Accountability? Brainstorm ways that culture will be measured, and evaluate whether or not it’s happening annually, if not more often.

I’m sleepy, and tomorrow is another big day, with more to come.

In other news, I fall more deeply in love with New Orleans every time I visit. I love the architecture, the crayola colored buildings, the lay-out of the neighborhoods, the trees, the humidity, the particular proud-sad way people smile when they speak about hurricane season, the music, the black cowboys, the way the south is always calling me home.

In other other news, I am totally in love with the cat that lives in the house I am staying in. I am allergic to her, but not severely. We can’t touch, just talk and check each other out and co-habitate. And I just love cats. Certain cats, great cats with distinct personalities and obvious needs and slinky sexiness and independence and snuggle-ability.

Must. pass. out.

* Yes, that’s probably the name of my next book so don’t snatch it!