Author Topic: Pig's guide: "Effective Group Management"  (Read 4020 times)

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Offline Sindobook

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Pig's guide: "Effective Group Management"
« on: October 21, 2007, 02:11:17 pm »
Now that the pig has got one of those 'pet keyboard' things, files like this have started to appear.
I'm not posting _everything_, I'm only posting the stuff that seems useful.

PURPOSE
-------

Typical uses.

For potential group members / newbies:
  - Which group (of several) to join.  All other things being equal, one
    prefers to be in the most effective group. 

For active group members:
  - Maximize the effectiveness of the group.  Evaluate potential
    new members.  Resolve conflicts.  Make group decisions.  etc.

For inactive group members:
  - Not inhibit the effectiveness of the group.

For leaders:
  - Lead a group effectively.  Members, structure, conflict resolution,
    decision making, etc.

NOTES
-----

"Ex:" is short for "Example:", an illustrative example follows.

EFFECTIVENESS IN GROUPS
------------- -- ------

*** Effective People ***

1) Have sufficient motivation.

  For the most part, people are either motivated or they aren't.  Everyone
  has their own reasons.  These days people aren't in groups for the
  assorted 'bennies', they are there to do what they want to do. 

  Ex:  Typical reasons - Ego, pleasing friends, boredom, love for a show or
  genre, ambition, recognition, belonging, ...

2) Have sufficient time.

  This task is one that can eat up a great deal of time.  At the same time,
  it is often thought of as a 'hobby' and nothing more.  Most people who get
  into a 'hobby' will typically abandon it after several months or less,
  unless there is something to keep it 'new' and 'fresh'. 

  Ex:  The time spent to sub a 22-minute episode is often greater than 16
  man-hours.

3) Work on what they like.  Some people are more particular than others.

  There is little to stop people from migrating to one group or another.
  If another group is doing something they like more, many people will just
  move. 

  Ex:  It depends largely on personal motivation and likes/dislikes.  Few
  people will work on anything. 

4) Work at the 'proper' pace (as fast or as slow/careful as needed).

  This differs from group to group.  Ideally, people prefer or adapt to the
  group's preferred pace. 

5) Don't have a bad personality, or if they do they don't let it get in the
   way of their work and work interactions with the group.

  Many people online act egotistical or territorial.  Others expect frequent
  reinforcement and can't stand when others ignore them. 

  Ex:  A common territorial problem is one who insists a task is his
  exclusively yet causes that task to be put on hold or stalled due to his own
  inaction.  When another tries to take up the task to speed things along, he
  insists that the task is 'his' and no one else should be allowed to do it. 

  Ex:  An annoying person who also demands attention and hates to be ignored.
  People will find him annoying and ignore him, which prevents him from getting
  the attention he wants.  Unhappiness is a foregone conclusion.

6) Aren't afraid to apply 'common sense' when needed. 

  This means questioning poor practices already in place, or the ability to
  make small, relatively inconsequential decisions on the spot as necessary.

  Ex:  Designing the directory structure of the group FTP or naming an IRC bot
  are inconsequential decisions that can be made as necessary, and do not
  require group input. 

*** Effective Structure ***

1) Empowers.  It assists the people who do the work, and gets them access to
   the proper resources they need to do that work.

  Many of the older supergroups, in time, developed structures that didn't
  empower those who did most of the work.  Concepts like 'seniority', where
  an older and less productive member has more 'say' and power than a younger,
  more productive member run counter to empowerment. 

2) Is limited in scope.  Decisions are made solely by those who they primarily
   effect. 

  This is most important when someone outside of a working group tries to
  impose a decision on that working group. 

3) Creates barriers only when absolutely necessary. 

  Barriers should always serve a purpose.  If someone has a problem, the
  initial approach should be the most direct one. 

*** Effective Decision Making ***

1) Follows the process:  Gather information, Analyze, Discuss, go for a
   reasonable and relative consensus among those affected, take a final
   vote on a divided issue only when absolutely necessary. 

  Making important decisions is not an easy process, and must be done with
  care.  This process is designed to stop 'snap' decisions which can have
  lasting effects on the group.

2) Does not make or mandate decisions that are largely pointless or
   inconsequential.

  Issues like the directory structure of the archive can be made on the
  spot using common sense.  Dictating that all group members must end
  sentences in the public IRC channel with the word 'nya' is pointless and
  will only end up scoffed at or ignored by group members. 

3) Avoids making decisions that will isolate or upset members.

  In some cases it is better to not make a decision at all or withhold
  judgement.  People expect 'perfection', and even one poor decision that is
  short-lived can harm group morale or result in other problems. 

4) Rescinds bad decisions, or ones that didn't work out, as soon as possible.

  Bad decisions need to be rescinded before it is too late.  Sometimes,
  decisions that seem good don't work out as people expected.  People are
  by nature impatient and don't want to have to abide by a poor decision.
  If a decision unintentionally results in group discord or problems for
  enough members, people expect it to be rescinded immediately.  There is no
  reason not to do so. 

5) Avoids important or relevant decision-making done in desperation or under
   extreme time pressure.

  An action taken in desperation is rarely one that would be taken under normal
  circumstances.  Avoid any tendency to catastrophize and don't try to make
  decisions under time pressure.  In this setting, there are few cases where
  this is necessary.  If a problem that requires immediate action can be
  forseen, try to come up with a mutually agreeable plan beforehand.

*** Effective Conflict Resolution ***

1) Personal Conflict when isolated.  If two people get on each other's nerves,
   or hate each other, the quickest and easiest solution is for them to
   mutually ignore each other.  Most online services like chat, e-mail, and
   the like have an ignore feature built in.  There is no harm in using it.

  Groups as a whole, or group leadership, should not condone actions like
  spoofing IP address or impersonation to malign another, or to bypass
  another's use of the ignore feature.

2) Personal Conflict when non-isolated.  No simple rules.  These are often
   the hardest conflicts to resolve, yet the most important.  In some cases,
   a neutral third party talking with 'both sides' can be beneficial. 

3) Personal conflict between multiple people.  Another type that is often
   difficult to resolve.  If there is a numerical imbalance, that does not
   necessarily make one side better or more valid than the other. 

*** Peripheral Issues ***

1) Management is second to personel issues. 

  For a group, the most important thing is to have a functional team.  Good
  management alone won't supply this.  Nor does it gaurantee sucess. 

  Poor management, however, can ruin an otherwise good team or cause members
  to become frustrated and leave.

2) Recruiting is central for long-term group survival.

  Some degree of turnover should be assumed and expected.  Recruiting new
  members is the only way to counter this.  New members, especially translators,
  should be recruited constantly. 

3) In non-work situations, 'Power' over others should be used carefully, only
   when absolutely necessary, and only by mutual or group consent. 

  In work situations, there will always be leaders and followers. 

  In non-work situations, 'power' can come from things like control of
  infrastructure, knowledge and subterfuge (compromising knowledge or ability
  to bribe / blackmail members), or manipulative cliques / factions. 

4) Infrastructure should be designed to preclude its use to hold power over
   another member.

  Infrastructure includes the group network -- the private channel, FTP server,
  bots, etc.  Ensure all these elements are not controlled by a single person
  or clique, and those who do control them lack the motivation or ability to
  manipulate the group or individual members.