Planning/Minutes/2012-06-07 Strategy

From Electromagnetic Field



There are many open questions regarding the budget, ticket sales, community, villages, volunteers, staffing, event coordination, promotion, etc; these are all interconnected issues, so I'd like to start by looking at them from a very high-level perspective and disentangle their dependencies.

I suggest to meet with Russ, Jonty, and Ben; but let me know if others should be present as well (Paul maybe?)


  • identify large upcoming projects (cf "key areas" below)
  • identify key interdependencies
  • agree on high-level aims (quantifiable/verifiable targets where possible)
  • assess staffing situation for each affected team/key area; where possible set up teams, coordinators
  • set an initial timetable for each aim

Projects/key areas:

  1. Community outreach, promo
  2. Staffing, volunteers
  3. Budget, deposits, sponsors
  4. Ticket sales
  5. Events
  6. Villages, installations
  7. General team coordination

Pre-Meeting Notes



  • needs a dedicated documentation/outreach/"compliance" person
  • needs help with basic event logistics, budget
  • need an actual "site setup" sub-group


  • basics are in place
  • need to grow the team now
    • outreach
    • staff who can train others


  • need to set up this team, or merge into "communications"
  • need more online community moderators -- maybe best placed in "Volunteers"?
  • What to do about villages, on-site community?


  • new team
  • need more community outreach people ("free agents")
  • need a communications plan, then staff accordingly
  • absorb "infodesk"?


  • need to set up...
  • most dire need: participant relations


  • still being set up atm, but looking very good
  • will ask Alex if she needs help


Attending: Russ, Jonty, Ben, Alex, martind.


We discussed the largest upcoming projects, their respective goals and needs, the staffing situation etc; as outlined in the agenda above.

To no-one's surprise we established that community outreach is the next big step on which all kinds of other activities depend; ticket sales, volunteers and staffing, villages, events, etc. So over the next week or so the Communications team will develop strategies for this; as usual we intend to move quickly, and we're also going to grow the team. (We already received offers.) One of the first steps will be a short authoritative document that clearly summarises the event, and makes explicit many of the implicit assumptions that we're currently making (first attempt).

The topic of setting clear and verifiable targets is still open, partially because atm things are too fluid to set clear aims; e.g. you saw Russ' email about quotes 1h ago. Only once we establish a clear budget can we set a ticket price, which has implications for attendance, etc. martind aims to bring some proposals for verifiable targets to the coming Monday meeting which we can then discuss (e.g. how many tickets do we want to have sold by when, and at which point do we adjust our budget upwards/downwards.)

Ben/oni offered to be first point of contact for the Events team, which means once we start increasing our community outreach efforts any potential speakers/performers will have someone to approach for questions and coordination. This is just an initial starting point in building up a full Events team; after Communications is fully up and running this is likely the core team we'll develop next, so stay tuned for future debates :)

And we're proposing to slightly change the focus of our Monday planning meetings:

  • have a clear and fixed agenda of team updates, not just an ad hoc list
  • identify bottlenecks, ensure people get the help they need (e.g. staff)
  • discuss deadlines, high-level targets, and the week ahead (e.g. regarding the budget, ticket sales, other projects)


Sidenote: What makes people attend?

Many people may not already know all the good reasons to attend; we should make them very clear and visible. (This will now be picked up by Team/Communications.)

  • The social experience
  • Meeting new people with interesting skills and perspectives
  • To learn, to teach others
  • To exchange advice and perspectives
  • Making things (with people you know, with people you just met)
  • Seeing new things, making new experiences
  • Passionate people in a field!

1. Community outreach, promo

Owner: Team/Communications

  • Need to clarify: what is this event? Will provide an authoritative document on this.
  • Need close contacts with hackspaces, other core constituencies
  • Need to support teams in their staffing needs (via our outreach efforts)
  • Need to develop discipline around web communication, emails, etc
  • Want to prepare a public "event lineup": villages, participating communities, etc

2. Staffing, volunteers

Owner: Team/Volunteers, other teams

  • Need to develop a firm plan on "stewards" staffing: well-trained key staff.
    • This is for our own event planning, but also so we can demonstrate preparedness towards the SAG and others.
  • Will work with Communications to make good use of their community outreach efforts
  • Now refining our understanding of volunteer needs (numbers, shifts, etc)
  • Should soon start growing our core team staff

3. Budget, deposits, sponsors

Owned by: Team/Admin, Team/Sponsors

  • Need some more key staff
  • Need to collect final quotes/budgets from misc teams (power, insurance, Internet, water, first aid, ...)
  • Need to refine event cancellation and refund procedures
  • Sponsors:
    • need to establish team demands
    • collect an updated list of companies to contact

4. Ticket sales

Owner: tbd (need a coordinator asap!) This involves Team/Admin, Team/Web, Team/Communications, and maybe others.

  • Need to develop targets, a plan, identify requirements
  • Some software development needed for full sales
  • Support for CC payments?
  • Support for EU payments?

5. Events

Owner: tbd (the latent Team/Events)

  • Need to build a formal group over the next few weeks
  • For now Ben/oni is first point of contact for all interested speakers/performers/workshop groups
  • Likely will have a change in focus: don't aim for a classic conference format, instead offer a range of formats that encourage community participation (e.g. some unconference elements.)
  • Should work with Communications to make good use of their community outreach efforts; and to prepare a roster of participating communities

6. Villages, installations

Owner: tbd (likely: Villages sits with Team/Venues, installations sit with Team/Communications)

  • Need proposals for targets, timelines
  • Need to check with Charles (Venues): will we still be able to provide marquees for villages?
  • Should work with Communications to make good use of their community outreach efforts; and to prepare a roster of participating communities

7. General team coordination

Atm we don't have a dedicated team or person for overall coordination; instead we have a planning process and weekly planning meeting. This seems to work well so far, but it would be good to find more people who are specifically interested in coordinating this.

Want to make some changes to the planning meeting:

  • Have a clear and fixed agenda of team updates, not just an ad hoc list
  • Review progress of all teams
  • Identify bottlenecks, ensure people get the help they need (e.g. staff)
  • Discuss deadlines, high-level targets, and the week ahead (e.g. regarding the budget, ticket sales, other projects)

We're suggesting to introduce targets: clear aims and dates we want to meet. This serves to make us more conscious of our aims, priorities, and pacing. The details of how best to do this are still under discussion.

martin is preparing a proposal here:

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