I’m writing with a brief report on this event. On Sunday, October 13, members of the Open Organization Ambassadors community gathered in Raleigh (and online) to discuss community visions and logistics, and to begin planning 2020 projects.
Summary of Actions
Develop a public-facing, user friendly, invitational document that helps interested readers and other audience members become more engaged community contributors.
Revisit, review, and potentially revise the Open Organization Ambassador program description.
Develop and distribute an annual reader survey to gather firsthand research about community’s content preferences.
Collaboratively develop a presentation template ambassadors can fork and modify for use in speaking opportunities.
Session 1 Recap
Ambassadors introduced themselves by explaining 1) which dimensions of their expertise they most enjoy sharing with the community and 2) what they find most valuable about being an Open Organization Ambassador. This was not only a great way to reacquaint ourselves but also a nice reminder of the varied and various reasons everyone voluntarily invests energies in this collaborative work. Ambassadors reported deriving value from:
- Having friends and peers to explore openness with
- Having friends and peers that push one another to think deeply and differently
- Connecting on calls every month to learn, explore, and vent
@bcotton tweets about his kids
@bryan then delivered an internal presentation he occasionally gives when colleagues inside Red Hat ask him about the Open Organization marketing initiative. The presentation explains the Open Organization project’s unique position as an “upstream first” project in Red Hat’s corporate marketing organization (one that treats development of open culture resources much like Red Hat treats development of open software resources). This provided some historical and institutional context for the work, and also helped ambassadors understand the purpose and extent of Red Hat’s ongoing investment in the Open Organization project and Ambassadors community. (It also allowed ambassadors an opportunity to offer valuable feedback on the way @bryan describes and promotes community work internally!).
That talk led to a discussion of the Open Organization project’s current status and some excellent suggestions for finessing the way we narrate our community and our work to internal and external audiences.
Then we took a much-needed break for more coffee, eggs, and sausage.
Session 2 Recap
Next, @jenkelchner led the group through a structured discussion of community identity. We tackled this work in two parts: first, a discussion of the open organization community in general, followed by a more specific discussion about the Open Organization Ambassadors community more specifically.
We began the question: What is the open organization community? And Jen helped us frame our discussion by refining that further, asking:
In an ideal world, one free of constraints, what could the open organization community become?
That sparked a lively discussion of possibilities and potential. In particular, we noted we’d love to see:
- More vibrancy and diversity in the community (specifically, greater emphasis on encouraging contributors from regions we haven’t featured, contributors with experiences and forms of expertise that we haven’t traditionally represented)
- A more unified and unique brand (something that identifies the community as an upstream entity more clearly and immediately)
- New types contributions (perhaps from contributors who favor audio/visual modes of engaging with the community)
- Participants and contributors with different skill sets (designers, coders, etc., who can enhance our work in new ways and add new dimensions)
- Greater participation and engagement, especially on social media, so we don’t feel like the group is too insular (the same group of contributors simply talking to one another!)
- Enhanced funding and sponsorships for community members to do more globally
- Emphasis on the personalities that make up the community (since they are pretty varied and great!)
See Figure 1 for a recap.
Then @jonasrosland posed another compelling question to hone our conversation:
What does the greater open organization community need from us, the Open Organization Ambassadors?
We discussed how the community benefits from:
- Invitations to contribute and get involved
- Opportunities to learn new things and utilize new resources
- Connect with like-minded leaders tackling organizational challenges
- Having their open sensibilities and tendencies validated by others
- Experiencing a sense of “home” or “belonging” to a group bigger than themselves
- Having a group of available “sounding boards” for new ideas and new projects
See Figure 2 for details.
This exercise led to an excellent discussion of community architecture and the ways we can “scaffold” participation opportunities to bring new contributors on board. How, in other words, can we better emphasize the various roles people can play when they seem interested in joining our community? See Figure 3.
The group realized we really have no explicit set of instructions for engaging with the group. So we determined that we’ll need to develop a guide for new contributors or a getting started document that helps newcomers overcome barriers to getting involved.
Action: Develop a public-facing, user friendly, invitational document that helps interested audience members become more engaged community contributors.
We then turned our attention to the Open Organization Ambassador community. Jen posed a similar question:
In an ideal world, one free of constraints, what would the Open Organization Ambassadors community be?
You’ll see our brainstorm reflected in Figure 1 (above, in the blue text).
In particular, we discussed our group as:
- A group of subject matter experts with a global presence
- Drivers of a global conversation about open principles in organizational culture and design
- Peers who challenge and sharpen one another
- Living examples of open organizational principles in action
- “Translators” of open principles between and across industries and communities
- A group with a distinct and recognizable visual identity
- A group that people want to “hire” or “consult with”—or even just grab a coffee with
- A community with a presence at conferences and other open-focused events, where we can engage directly with people
We determined that we’ve not really refined or edited our ambassador community charter in some time, so we decided that we’d make revisiting it and updating it a priority in the weeks and months ahead. See Figure 4. @bcotton suggested also considering something like ambassador emeritus status (rather than the current “alumni” status). We may also revisit the type and volume of contributions members make.
Action: Revisit, review, and potentially revise the Open Organization Ambassador program description.
Session 3 Recap
Blowing right through our scheduled break to keep the conversation rolling, we then shifted our focus to 2020 community project planning.
@bryan began by acknowleging the community’s current “literary” bias—that is, a tendency to favor and “default” to print-first resources and practices. This bias is the result of:
- Our having grown out of a book (The Open Organization by Jim Whitehurst), and
@bryan’s own personal and professional bias toward more “word-focused,” literary, printed resources (and since @bryan helps drive community and ambassador work inside Red Hat, that bias inevitably shapes the kind of work we imagine and complete)
We discussed the merits of expanding our efforts outside the confines of this literary bias and began brainstorming “non-print” community resources and avenues for engagement. We listed:
- A series of regular, short, pithy, an duseful YouTube videos (perhaps centered on explaining terminology or concepts in a high-level way)
- A similar concept- or vocabulary-focused series on Twitter
- More articles with audio components
- A podcast (or “pubcast,” which will apparently be a podcast but with beer)
- A coloring book crafted from the Open Organization Definition
- An interactive “choose your own adventure” book
- A set of Open Organization “trading cards” that describe certain concepts or figures in our community
- An Open Organization database (something searchable), which people can use to more effectively sift through our robust content archive
- An Open Organization app (perhaps a tools one might use to search our resources)
- Something that better showcases our contributors’ unique and compelling personalities
We also discussed the importance of developing an annual reader survey we can distribute to our highly engaged and responsive newsletter audience (roughly 3,500 subscribers), in order to get a better sense of what our audience might like to see from us.
Action: Develop and distribute an annual reader survey to gather firsthand research about community’s content preferences.
See Figures 5 and 6 for the rundown.
Then focused our remaining energies (very little, by this point in a tiring day!) to our print-focused resource plans for 2020. Primarily, we discussed the book series and some potential ideas for new installments in 2020. Two ideas that emerged were:
- Adding a new Open Organization Guide to X to the series, where x=a new industry or domain. Suggestions include, e.g., government or non-profits
- Rebooting the Field Guide into a cross-discipline or cross-industry guide to some of the more common, vexing, or confusing terms in the “open vernacular” (e.g., produce a small “encyclopedia” of key terms and concepts described from multiple angles, enabling better cross-disciplinary conversations about openness).
We did not reach a concrete decision about which (if any) book project to pursue next. But we did entertain a brief discussion about the way our community resources (like books) look and feel, and discussed the need to grow and evolve our logo and overall brand to be more evocative and more consistent (and less Red Hatty!).
And to wrap up, we discussed plans to build an Open Organization Ambassador “stock deck” speakers can use as they give presentations and workshops to various audiences, particularly if they’re spekaing about the community, the initiative, or the open organization concept in general. @bryan will contribute slides and other materials from his Open Organization Academy. Ambassadors who speak globally should participate in shaping the deck and ensuring it’s an effective template. @bryan can tape design resources within Red Hat’s Open Studio to develop a few custom slides or graphics, should we need them.
Action: Collaboratively develop a presentation template ambassadors can fork and modify for use in speaking opportunities.
I’m absolutely certain this report contains gaps and inconsistencies, so I’m very much hoping attendees will add their own thoughts and reflections to this thread.