Here’s for tomorrow’s plenary …
We meet at my place, preferably 10-15 minutes in advance, so that we can start at 19:30 sharp.
Internal link to the agenda: https://c301.nl.tabdigital.eu/f/51325
As announced before it’s going to be a bit of a different plenary meeting compared to what we normally do. See Chris’s post below for further details (coming up in a bit).
No need to worry about tensions or frustrations. Nobody’s angry or very upset (that I know of at least), we’re just figuring things out as we go, and adjusting our course as needed (see Chris’s post + my longer story below)
The longer story on what happened
In the first post above I referred to some “tensions” and “frustrations”. I couldn’t go much into the details of it because we were in the middle of sorting it out, but now that we’re a bit more on top of things I figure it would be a good thing to clarify what happened.
1. The misunderstanding about conditional full membership
Some of the current full members had been granted “conditional full membership”, which is something we invented to be able to speed up a little. It meant that they could become a full member, but only pay the 2000 euro when they got the green light from the bank.
That created some misunderstandings and accordingly some strong feelings for mostly everybody involved, but once we took the time to talk it out, it took less than 10 minutes before we had reached a thorough mutual understanding of each other’s point of view, and we were ready to carry on. One key conclusion from this part of the discussion was the importance of financial security.
As a background: we have a tradition of organising “full members dinners”, and we happened to have planned one on the 26th of February. The purpose of these gatherings is to check in with each other and see where we stand. It’s for full members only, not because we don’t like the associate members, but because we find that having a serious financial stake in this project changes the dynamic, and its good to have a platform a couple of times a year to just take the time to see how things are going.
2. Becoming more efficient
When we took stock of other tensions and frustrations, the (lack of) speed at which we are making progress came up strongly. We had a long discussion about it and would like to continue it with the entire group.
3. Governance mistake no 1
When we did the first enlargement, in June 2022, we went from four Full Members (Ugne, Manuel, Alberto and I), to a group of more than 25 people (of which only Sophie, Chris, Sarah, Ralf and Laurianne stayed). At the time it made a lot of sense to give full decision rights to associate members, 1) because the decisions we were taking were of rather low signficance, and 2) because numerically it wouldn’t have worked to take decisions with the four of us with all the new people just sitting there.
Right now however, we realise that the importance of the decisions we are taking has gone up significantly, and that this arrangement no longer works for us (or at least not much longer). We talked about it at length and concluded that we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place, and that there is no way out of this situation without feeling dearly uncomfortable about it. We had hoped that it would be possible to be peers on all fronts with the people who joined as associate members, and sadly we have had to learn that this is not always possible .
4. Governance mistake no 2
When we did the first enlargement, we were still in a rather experimental phase, figuring out things on how we could work together as a bigger group. In that context it made a lot of sense to give people more time to decide on whether they wanted to become associate and then full members. The June group for example got until 15 October to decide on associate membership, and until 15 January on full membership.
Now that we are where we are however, we have learned that long deadlines lead to people taking a lot of time, without adding much to the quality of the decision. We also found out that the 3-6 month window that we currently allow for people to decide on full membership has significant adverse effects that we hadn’t foreseen. Here again we concluded that we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place, without many elegant solutions to bargain us out.
5. Other tensions that are lurking beneath the surface
Based on informal talks we also gathered that there are some more little tensions and points that lack sufficient clarity lurking beneath the surface. These are also addressed in Chris’s post below and they will also be on the agenda tomorrow.
Where we are now
My personal feeling is that all in all were doing rather well. This is the first time that we are running a bit into trouble, and it definitely won’t be the last time. What matters to me is how we manage to get out of trouble, and whether we can keep communicating and looking for solutions.
Chris’s post below will take it from here …