Stewarding Ourselves: Two Non-Executive Directors wanted for Edgeryders LbG (call closed)

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#6

Several things

Hi everyone, I have a few things to say.

Fist, I would like to support Vinay staying on in his role as community director. He has a strong connection with a large part of the active community and has been contributing to the most important discussions here in depth and with rigour. I also think Adil would be a great addition. He is calm and generous and having worked with him in Matera, reliable and constructive.

Second, I wonder if we need more than 2 community directors. If the job is to represent the community and balance out potential misuse of the platform by the company, they need to be able to present enough force that the executive directors must convince at least some of them that the direction they suggest creates value for the community.

Third, I would like to step forward to take one of these seats, if granted support. I have been actively working in the unMonastery project from the moment it opened in Matera. I have also been following the discussions on this platform and contributed when I had something to say (and when it seemed someone was listening). I helped organise LOTE 4, and took up on behalf of the unMonastery different jobs of hosting the event (like organising food). I continue to work on the unMonastery since the prototype closed. I have been one of the people who tried to maintain unMonastery presence on the platform and engage in conversation about unMonastery matters, although a lot of the resident unMonasterians were alienated by the unclarity of the relationship between the unMon project, the platform, and the directors. I agree with Ben’s post, that it is crucial to face the problems created by not defining clearly the difference and the relationship between LBG and community, and I would like to participate in and contribute to this conversation.

Ciao,

Katalin


An evolving list of candidates to two positions as non-executive directors of ER LBG
#7

Second

I don’t know how someone “becomes” an edgeryder, but if simply having an account qualifies you to vote, then I support Katalin!

https://www.youtube.com/embed/X6y2Y9i5Sj0


#8

not sure how the final decision would be made. but I support @katalin also.

I think it would be healthier to the community, also regarding the recent discussions and different opinions on the company/community/UnMon,  to have one of the non-executive directors from the “UnMon camp”,as a way of embracing our diversity and stewarding ourselves better.


#9

Why two directors?

To answer Katalin’s question, there are two reasons why we have two non-executive directors instead of, say, 18.

  1. We are adamant in paying (a trip and a nice meal) for non-execs to participate in at least one board meeting/retreat a year. This is because oversight is work, and we do not want to be yet another extractive community. We probably cannot pay for people's time yet, but we need to express gratitude in a tangible way by putting something on the table – travel expenses. This costs money, and ER is a very poor organization. Two people we can manage; more, we are not sure. Telling people to pay for their own trip does not work in this community, where most people are dirt poor and live far away from each other. 
  2. We want there to be way more engine than brakes in Edgeryders: starting a company from scratch is hard enough as it is. Having four people doing oversight on five people that do the work is worse than useless: it is frustrating, and humiliating for the doers. Edgeryders is, and will always stay, a do-ocracy, not a democracy. Oversight is useful because it helps does to do better! 

That said, I personally would be very happy to have more executive directors in Edgeryders. We can always use more of these! These are people who put in a lot of work, get paid when they can, and focus on serving the community and bootstrapping the company with no debt and no external equity. This would start by taking on a project, driving it to its end, then volunteering to join in the happy-if-exhausted exec bunch. That, however, is no joke. In the past 20 months, I have clocked (by a conservative estimate, because I am not too consistent at time tracking) 1250 hours worked on Edgeryders, and have been paid… 2000 EUR.


#10

The Company

Alberto,

I have a serious problem with this comment above:

  1. We want there to be way more engine than brakes in Edgeryders: starting a company from scratch is hard enough as it is. Having four people doing oversight on five people that do the work is worse than useless: it is frustrating, and humiliating for the doers. Edgeryders is, and will always stay, a do-ocracy, not a democracy. Oversight is useful because it helps does to do better! 

@Alberto, because Edgeryders LBG refers to unMonastery, like all other projects on the platform, as their project, effectively I clocked 2500 hours on ER LBG (having been working full time on unMonastery all last year), - and so I don’t exactly feel I am a brake to what you are doing. There are maybe 15 people working actively just on unMonastery so all their work is also working for Edgeryders company. I assume every other project here has some level of contribution to ER the Company. You cannot refer to 2000+ people’s work as yours and then tell them they are holding you back.

I think it is time to define the company’s relationship to the active projects on the platform.


#11

Work is always useful

I never implied your work (or anyone’s) is not useful. On the contrary, it is because I appreciate it so much that I insist we stay well away from the Dilbert-ish nightmare in which everyone is a supervisor of someone else, and people focus on overseeing others instead of building stuff. Oversight is important – that’s why we recruit nonexecs – but work is the real scarce resource. Hence the structure we have now, where no one is holding anyone back, and the only sanctioned brake people are the two non-execs. Have you thought of trying a different structure in the newly minted unMonastery LBG? Then, in a year or two, we could compare notes.

The company’s relationship to the projects on the platform is explained here (2013) and here (2014). It boils down to the usual “who does the work calls the shots”, with the additional provision “no veto power”. Your work, your project, your decision. In more detail:

  1. If you don't need the Edgeryders LBG corporate shell to realize your project, you have no need to engage the company. You can still tell the world (if that helps you) that you are involved in the Edgeryders (not LBG) community, and use the ER red logo. It is licensed under a creative commons license, so you don't need anyone's permission. 
  2. If you do need the Edgeryders LBG corporate shell (like, originally, Economy App, Viral Academy, and unMonastery in Matera) then you do need to talk to the company, because any contract or other legal document needs to be signed by someone in the ER LBG board to be valid. But even in that case, we would request that you lead your own project (like Matt did for the Economy App and David for VA. In the unMonastery Matera case there was a larger investment from myself and other directors, because no one person or group could or would do the fundraising part. So we did that instead, but Ben still was asked to commit to being on site). 
  3. If after having been "incubated" by ER LBG your project grows so that it needs its own organization, that's good news! You are welcome to set one up, with our congratulations, and again you don't need anyone's permission. This was the case for the Economy App when it became the Makerfox, and now for unMonastery LBG. Hopefully, you will want to contribute back to the community, so that more projects can become as successful as yours. A good way to contribute to the community is by offering opportunities to do meaningful, paid work, and do so in an open way (like public calls). The more community projects become successful and generate opportunities for the community, the better! There can and should be more than one company operating in symbiosis with the community and serving it; the community should be unique for maximum diversity and critical mass.
  4. No, the fact that you have a project group on Edgeryders does not mean you are working for Edgeryders LBG. The GitHub example serves again: I have my own GitHub user, and Edgeryders as an organization is also present on GitHub. You guessed it: we still don't work for GitHub.

​Edgeryders LBG is not much of a political player. You are now in our admin group, and you see that we talk about client relationships, finding cheaper banking, getting proposals in, preparing reports: necessary work, but hardly exciting. We are doing market activism, i.e. trying to generate opportunities to operate the change we want to see and get paid for it. Money changing hands (“market”) means the force driving change is sustainable over time. These opportunities are not appropriated by the people who generated it, but reshared with the community: the unMonastery residency opportunity are the perfect example. I don’t see how you can have any conflict with the company, as it has no agenda other than that of generating revenue based on what community members want to do anyway.

There is, probably, a conflict between some people associated with the unMonastery and the Edgeryders community, specifically community members who feel they have contributed the unMonastery development and are now suspicious that others might pull a Huffington Post/Couchsurfing on them. I suggested a possible solution in a post called  “Together, in relative peace, over a long time”: a proposal for this context, that you will find in the semi-closed Confessional group, originally invented by Ben as a safe space for dialogue and reconciliation. He seems to have lost interest, so I am not sure that proposal is in the right place anymore. Maybe I should move it out?


#12

Disingenuous?

This all feels a bit disingenuous but perhaps something got lost in translation.


Either way I’m genuinely at a bit of a loss (as previously expressed) as to how to engage with this - it seems to me to be intentionally baiting, and willfully ignoring not just legitimate questions but also personal emails in order to mislead anyone reading this thread, and thus I feel forced into defending myself.


In response to: “originally invented by Ben as a safe space for dialogue and reconciliation. He seems to have lost interest,”


Actually, I didn’t invent this, you created it in my name based on your interpretation and posted it under my name using the unusual power that some ER platform admins have to impersonate others, I emailed you last week concerning this but since you didn’t reply, here’s an excerpt to re-address my concerns, this time in public:


When we met in London, and I expressed the need for a safe space for coming together on ER, I thought I had made it very clear that in order for any productive action to be taken towards resolving the difficulties we’d begun to discuss, it would require a high degree of sensitivity and consideration, in order for it to bare any fruit.

Following Nadia’s response to this suggested process, I feel that I was forced into acting in a specified way, further pressured and pushed into a half baked process through the creation of the confessional on the platform by you in my name. In which I posted quite clearly that I was attempting to engage capable facilitators before anything would begin.

I appreciate the need to consider the “goodwill” of ER LBG but not at the expense of a community led initiative.

Instead what happened is that you accelerated the process, and put in place Dorotea as the sole facilitator and pressed go.

It gives off the perception that there is no patience, or real investment in the process”


----


There were some basic requirements; neutral facilitation, level playing field, external support with experience in conflict resolution, time.


Given this wasn’t acknowledged and was met with a counterproductive attitude, approach and the use of technical admin rights on the platform to force a specific situation (quite counter to the original proposal) only really capable of generating conflict, I chose to take a step back, and let Alberto run things as he saw fit; assuming if there was no respect from the start, it was unlikely to manifest later in the process.


I’m not interested in engaging tribalism, I’m interested in creating space for everyone to have a voice and since that didn’t seem an option, I chose to invest my time in reading over the EdgeRyders documentation, with a view to helping build new processes within EdgeRyders, identify problems in need of fixing and to raise a series of legitimate questions about the governance of ER and how certain events and changes have negatively impacted the development of EdgeRyders as a community.


None of which have been acknowledged or responded to, which is quite surprising, isn’t it?


----


Again in the comments made on this thread there are a number of aspersions cast - which I suggested should stop, whilst ER LBG figure out it’s accountability/oversight mechanism and how it should relate to the community.


Talk of non-exec’s having any kind of real oversight, feels to me to be a farce at this point.


----


On the curious use of the rhetoric of unMonastery vs Community on the part of ER LBG. Still no definition of ‘community’ seems forthcoming, and it’s use to discredit choices made by members of the ‘community’ seems at odds with reality.


On this particular point it’s interesting to note that whenever someone contradicts the views of ER LBG on the platform, they become rogue outliers and not of the ‘community’ but everyone who follows suit, or even better never speaks, constitutes the ‘community’.


Lastly in response to the ongoing farcical accusations being leveled.


Given that to date 27 invitations have gone out for the unMonastery entity, a very clear effort has been made to build open interfaces, everyone that works on unMonastery is registered on EdgeRyders, has contributed significant energy to EdgeRyders and despite individual directors of EdgeRyders LBG attempting to invoke some unregistered contempted, there hasn’t be a single example of someone expressing concern about the unMonastery.


And even if there were, since you are a member of unMonastery LBG, you would have an explicit responsibility to fix that problem, rather than gossiping and attempting to create divisive narratives for your personal objectives.


Change in Legals and Terms of Service?
#13

Who is the community?

Hi Ben,

The simplest way to think about the community imho is everyone who is registered on edgeryders.eu, vocal or not. In any way, I will not be the one who tells someone that they aren’t (enough) Edgeryders, that they should be more like other Edgeryders, that they only matter if they express themselves etc. If something is on the table like this offer, you have full freedom to engage with it or not, to defend your point of view and/or explicitly disagree with others. Or better yet, come up with a solution that works better where your work is concerned - which I see you have with the unMon, and it looks exciting to me - as an ER LbG member and community member (see how those roles are not entirely separate, and one could easily take offence if associated with only one single interest).

If you have another version of how the elections would work or how to have “everyone” express themselves (in your own definition of everyone) - which could be better although I don’t seem to grasp what exactly is, bring it on and let’s discuss it concretely. Katalin asked about why only 2 non-operational directors, someone answered, and made sense to some people. There will always be disagreement, the question is how much you can accept it on good faith? In the end you choose 27 roles for unMon, we chose less for ER LbG, and we will all adapt as needed, maybe try different formulas in the future and test? Currently it’s 2 advisors for ER, so if it’s that which makes someone say it’s “a farce at this point”, then what to do? We each go as we think it’s best.

As for the process itself, of voting / not voting, democratically / by consensus etc. and the community choosing how this should work, it is the exact reason for this post. I’m afraid though that you will hear as many personal views as people asked, and it is not ER LbG responsibility to tell the community how to behave.

I would never spend time stopping others to do things (which the others genuinely see as constructive) or make demands I think there is one better process, but it’s not clear what that is? Why not let others know what is your constructive approach? Take more time? Have everyone write memoranda or regulations for whatever it is the community? To do what? I really am trying, but I don’t understand.

@ArthurD volunteered to set up this process of electing community members, so maybe he can join and let us know what our options are…

From where I’m standing I see people who want to take this on and no one opposing. The question is should we trust that they will help improve/ clarify what is a loose governance system and stay true to the values that brought us together in Strasbourg? Yes, we can do that if we trust each other. If not, than no rational argument will stand or bring people closer together.


#14

Brief follow up.

Hi Noemi,

I’m not attempting to create conflict - I am trying to raise a set of questions and points as originally outlined here. Had I not been referenced in this thread, or read statements that seem to be contradictory of the current set up, I wouldn’t have necessarily entered this discussion at this stage.

The most relevant point is this and why I think the idea of non-execs having oversight is a farce, in the company governance document it reads: “Openness is our best safeguard against opportunistic or misguided behavior. People vote with their feet: if the kernel abuses the community, the community will evaporate, and the kernel will be left without a viable company. They definitely don’t want that! But what happens if they don’t notice something is wrong? Or if there is a major disagreement? If somebody else does something stupid that threatens your project as it unfolds? Our second safeguard is the board of directors. We are giving it statutory powers to overrun management and act as benevolent dictator when it perceives a threat. At the moment they are: Ásta Helgadóttir Vinay Gupta”

We’re both aware that this has been contradicted or undermined, as I’ve witnessed both in the admin forum and in Georgia @hexayurts guidance and oversight be disregarded by execs. Whilst at LOTE4 one of the executive directors in the final meeting told a non-exec director to “shut up”. I think it’s important given this track record that there is a very clear re-clarification on what this role is for and what anyone signing up might actually expect. I signed up to ER and have continued to participate and contribute to ER on the basis that there wouldn’t ever be a concentration of power - that exists now in the form of future and existing contracts, technical rights over the platform and personal objectives overriding individuals work.

As it stands, I have experienced personal attacks from exec’s, witnessed defamation of character, been approached by EdgeRyders both working on unMonastery and from the broader community reporting issues with ER LBG and I’ve had to personally put energy into repairing professional relationships that were burnt by ER LBG directors. As the governance structure sets out, I have voiced these to both execs and non-execs of ER LBG - though nothing seems to have come of this.

I would be happy to work towards better processes, alternative structures and a general reassessment of how things have shifted over the past few years, but any attempt to do that is generally shouted down, and I am generally disenfranchised by things like having my technical admin rights taken away, and being asked to capitulate or reprioritise on behalf of many peoples work.

The point is, as you rightly say in your last sentence, that a lot of trust has been damaged, and people have “voted with their feet” - and their doesn’t seem to be any interest in resolving those trust issues, except superficially. I am sorry this is the case.

When it comes down to continual damage to years of work - it’s simply not enough to put this down to personal fights or disagreements.

But clearly this is viewed as a waste of time, and concern about nothing, so I’ll take a step back, as I’d prefer not to invoke in anyone else the same frustration and upset I feel about this situation.


#15

Non-exec oversight

I can confirm that neither Asta nor I feel we have any substantial amount of ability to influence the direction of the organization from our position as non-exec directors. As soon as things started to get interesting, all company busness moved to “executive directors only” meetings.


#16

Admittedly we all learned from that

We also would have needed you more Vinay in daily operations, and yet that hasn’t happened, for reasons we are all responsible for. Don’t make this into an execs vs non-execs. Now this opportunity is exactly that, formalizing commitment from everyone in the board to move forward, so that no one has to show up only when things get “interesting”.


#17

Exactly

Agree with Noemi. Additionally, in ER LBG, we don’t have regular meeting, so most of the work happens in the admin group, which at the moment is open to execs, non execs and others. So there have been very few meetings of any kind, let alone “execs only”, and the degree of transparency is much higher than that of offline management companies.


#18

Day to day involvement?

Remember that the vast majority of my work is invisible - it’s acting as a consultant to projects by email, it’s developing long term assets, it’s shepherding social capital. Most of that is long conversations in person or on skype, or offline through mediums like twitter. At most events, you can do a show of hands, and half the people in the room working on the event are there as a direct byproduct of my activity.

This goes back to the very beginning: the design of the event which launched EdgeRyders, dual format

  • conference for council of Europe

  • unconference for the network that I was bringing in

and the extremely network-centric “click here if you want to meet this person” mode of getting people to ask to come to the conference. In practice, we had enough seats for everybody, but if we’d had to choose, that mechanism would have held up, and delivered a powerful community experience about how we managed our limited resources. It was good. One of the key reasons we have EdgeRyders because that effort worked. By my recollection it increased participation on the platform 10x. The people came.

It worked because

  • I had pre-existing networks, and

  • I knew how to make our offer compelling not only to those networks, but to their networks beyond us

Those pre-existing networks? My network in London, largely built on top of Ben’s Temporary School of Thought events, built on top of Ben’s network in London.

What I’m doing? Day in, day out, creating, supporting and fostering those networks, that are so vital to our survival.

If that doesn’t count as “showing up” I don’t know what does.


#19

Oversight

Your networking is certainly valuable, Vinay. But from your comment above it seems to me that you were speaking about oversight, which is a completely different function. Networking is done in the world out there; oversight is done in here. To do it, you need the information to make yourself an opinion, and a channel to get that opinion across. I merely argue that the admin group and the platform at large are both the info and the opinion delivery channel.


#20

Work

I wonder if the hoodie incident was a good example of the undesired effect of the company spirit. I doubt Github expresses an opinion over ER visibility.



#21

Excellent example

All five people who are now ER LBG exec directors were members of the Edgeryders community first. All five got involved in Edgeryders at least one year before the company even existed. The episode you quote is an excellent example of someone – me – making a move (note: making it myself, not suggesting other people make it), and others using their time and energy to stop that move instead of making a better one. It might have been wrong, but it was a community move, not a company move: a company would have made T-shirts with its own logo. So, what we witnessed is people in the community wielding orthodoxy arguments over others – something for which I have no sympathy. But then again, disagreement is normal and healthy.

Fun fact: unMonastery stickers were circulated amongst general contentment at LOTE3 in October 2013. Not sure who brought them, but there was no drama that I can remember. Orthodoxy fluctuates, it seems. smiley


#22

Clocking Time

Would be useful to clock how much time you spend discussing the ownership of the unMonastery and criticising other people’s views. Try https://www.toggl.com/ Its opensource. I’m not being sarcastic here - I think it is interesting. 

Where do I vote? " In the spirit of openness both seats are open for the community members to select directors."   

Cheers.


#23

process - open and collaborative

Hi @K ,

I guess it’s better to just say why you think someone (maybe you) is good for the job, here in the comments.

I guess voting in this context would not be a good solution, unless some people want to do “campaigns” ?

(I’m not interested in “campaigns” or competition but this is just my preference)

It’s better to use so called “collective intelligence” and decide together in a collaborative process.

This is just my suggestion.

Hugs


#24

Precisely

YEs, @Dorotea and Ksenia, this is more or less what we had in mind.


#25

About 10 hours?

My time tracking is not that granular! I can attempt a guesstimate: I wasted some time in the t-shirts controversy back in September. Then I tried to have a conversation with Ben in January, prompted by him and concerning a different project, but that stopped because he preferred to speak in person. At the beginning of March we did speak in person in London, and he suggested the Confessional procedure; then I spent some time on that. Now there is this, plus some discussion I had with Arthur, Noemi, Matthias and Nadia. Maybe 10 hours total. Unfortunately, I don’t have many results to show for them.