This post in hashtags:
Considering how things unfolded in the riot channel last Thursday and Friday regarding teams on the upcoming Horizon2020 research projects, and based on additional factors that have been requiring attention, this is an update on the teams and project management for POPREBEL and NGI Forward.
While I’d like to share more on the place of collaborative leadership in Edgeryders right now, I’m going to leave that to another post in motion and will keep this one brief to tend to some things raised by others. What’s more there has been plenty of energy given to keeping this an inclusive and considerate process – from the initial invitations for people to put their hands up for roles prior to and after our wins, to inviting feedback in this post on teams in August, to personal meetings with all relevant team members.
There is a key lesson in how project preparation has occurred to date. While Edgeryders stands by the principle of who does the work calls the shots, there has been a handicap in organisational and team building preparations for these projects that has caused some confusion for many of us. Namely that in this instance, I am not necessarily calling the shots. While @alberto and I collaboratively brought these projects in and I am responsible for their delivery, based on the model we wrote into the proposals and the scale of their implementation, I do not have complete freedom as other project leads may. Indeed there is an interdependence of leadership roles on these projects, so let’s get clear on them.
- @alberto is LSIGN which means that he is legally responsible for these projects. This means that I run key factors and decisions by him, and document them for the Board - example: the POPREBEL Grant Agreement in the company workspace. This extends to @alberto’s vision and leadership in the Research Network, and as a researcher in these projects (see below)
- I am written as project lead into the GAs. This means that I am the contact for the Commission, the Coordinator and our partners on these projects and I am responsible for their delivery and our corresponding reputation. This role includes strategic positioning and stakeholder relations for the Research Network, as well as working between the consortium and @nadia on communications. I will also be collaborating with partners on 1-2 tasks in other work packages in NGI Forward - namely WP1: Topic Identification and WP3 Policy Lab.
- I will be bringing in a project coordinator to drive project management. Under my supervision, they will be taking care of administration and finance, travel, some reporting and other components depending on the person that comes on board. More on this shortly.
- Team leaders have been written into the proposals as responsible for the five key tasks in the main Edgeryders work package. I have shared this model many times but to clarify it is made up of 1. community management + 2. engagement + 3. ethnography + 4. network data analysis + 5. tech support (+ 6. project management and reporting). These tasks were written based on the proven method from the past and the experience of those that have done it to get us here. As mentioned elsewhere on numerous occasions, team leaders for the tasks have autonomy in how they strategise and implement their delivery. Me and my team are here as an interface with the consortium and to support delivery. It is expected key decisions are shared with all team leaders at the bi-weekly standups as per the Edgeryders Events calendar, and that planning is kept open for all other teams to follow.
- @noemi and @johncoate are leading community management on both projects. As I’ve been told, @noemi will focus on POPREBEL and @johncoate on NGI Forward, but they will share trainings and mentorship to their team of community managers. We expect new multilingual community managers on both projects.
- @nadia is leading outreach and engagement on both projects. This includes 12 onboarding workshops for each project, and will involve close collaboration on communications, which is currently being lead by the project Coordinators and has certain constraints and sensitivities (as per the engagement specs being posted next). @nadia will likely be recruiting a team to support in the engagement - such as for the outreach events in target communities. We have agreed in distinguishing between engagement to bring people into the conversation - @nadia, and stakeholder relations involved in Research Network development - myself.
- @amelia is leading ethnography on both projects. This includes multilingual and multimedia ethnography training and working with a team. @amelia has already been active in documenting lessons from past projects, and her intention in how to manage her team, towards strong delivery.
- @alberto is leading network and data analysis. @hugi has been engaged by @alberto to fix bugs in the Graphryder interface. Otherwise, at this stage I believe he won’t be building a team but please feel free to clarify @alberto.
- @matthias is leading the technical development of the platform for both projects and thankfully also internal procedures to support smooth planning and reporting.
- The impact summit is written into separate work packages in both POPREBEL and NGI Forward, and is being delivered with partners. Normally sitting under engagement, this has been a deliverable that has evolved in these proposals. In POPREBEL it is actually lead by UCL with our creative direction. In NGI Forward it is lead by us but as the closing summit of a series in the project it will be lead in collaboration with NESTA and Rob van Kranenburg. I had discussed @natalia_skoczylas being given the opportunity to take the lead on the impact summit for POPREBEL, and @hugi getting to lead on NGI Forward. I stand by my belief that these two team members are the best people for these roles. That being said, the first conversation was had when @nadia was on leave, and the second after several suggestions that @nadia be approached directly to discuss collaborating on engagement, and was had with a commitment to tending to people’s needs.
- The community journalism programme is also sitting between community management and engagement tasks. Both team leaders see it as being more pertinent to their strategies to lead. It was written into the proposals as being lead by @johncoate however I think it important we find a way where everyone can feel comfortable with how it unfolds and feeds into their own strategies.
- To get clear on leadership and roll out for both the impact summits and community journalism programme I propose we have a call with @nadia, @noemi @johncoate @natalia_skoczylas and @hugi. I suggest this happens once the project starts so we can keep pre-project work to an minimum. However if someone would like it to happen earlier and to lead convening this call, please go ahead.
Acknowledging each of our value, acknowledging each of our visions, I suggest we focus on the strength of our collective muscle; trusting in each other’s visions and our capacity to deliver them, trusting each other to know every individual’s value, and trusting each other to listen when we we need to call in support.
The proposal writing of NGI Forward has set a precedent in moving beyond the aforementioned model. In it I was able to weave Edgeryders into almost all work packages to become the second biggest partner after NESTA. I did that based on the Edgeryders’ communities’ interests and expertise, as well as based on my own professional background and research field.
I would like to again openly invite those interested to share with me your interests, your visions and how we can weave those into new proposals.
For example, I’m working with @hugi to gauge if a call in the NGI initiative closing in March is fitting for Particip.io to start moving into the Research Network’s activities in H2020. And I intend to write myself more roles in proposals that fit with my own research to eventually move beyond supervising project management. Please speak up as to how you’d like to evolve your role and/or participation in potential research projects in the future.
As mentioned, I’ll be writing more on collaborative leadership moving forward however I’d like to share some parting thoughts. One of the things that first drew me into Edgeryders was how well it sees the place of unusual suspects in system change. How well it brings different kinds of knowledge together to mobilise hardcore stuff. And yet I think we are on a new learning edge in terms of how to adapt our offering to our growing teams. As the Edgeryders Research Network begins to collaborate with more partners and bring in new team members, I’m hearing the call for us to pay more attention to how we can foster an environment that enables everyone to thrive. Where we can see beyond the sticky stuff of collaborating without hierarchies and let the magic we’re doing lead the way. Would love to hear what you think requires tending also, and how we can weave it in as things kick off.
“Collaboration is an idea that is unconsciously attached to the mechanistic world in which many parts are assembled to create function. But in living systems, collaboration is much more than each doing their part. Collaboration is the readiness to show up and do what needs to be done, in improvisation and mutual learning…" Nora Bateson, Liminal Leadership