These are some of DonovanBaarda's tips on operating organisations learned over the years of involvement in APANA and various OpenSource? projects. They may or may not apply to non-Volunteer organisations, but some of them probably do.

  1. To get people to do stuff, you need to lower the barriers to doing. Every little minor requirement, like required approval or keys to gates, is sand in the gears. It is easy to get precious about a project and only allow people unfettered access after they have proven themselves trustworthy or reliable enough. However this usually results in no-one doing anything. Also see point 3 for why allowing incompetent people to do things can be good.
  2. The person who does something gets to decide how it gets done. The act of doing is authority. The doers get rewarded with the authority to get it done. This both requires and contributes to point 1.
  3. Someone doing something badly is better than no-one doing it at all. If people see something being done badly and care, they will help do it better, but until someone starts doing it, it just never gets done. This is the consequence of point 2; in order to have any authority to say how something gets done, you have to be one of the people doing it.
  4. If you want something done, do it yourself. Give notification, and just start doing it. Other people will probably start helping, particularly if they feel you are doing it badly. It is very rare that someone will do something just because you complain that it needs doing.
  5. People need to feel informed. If people feel like they being kept in the dark, they will get very annoyed, even if they agree with the outcomes. They don't actually have to be informed, just that they could easily get informed if they could be bothered.
  6. Silence is consent. People will only speak up if they have serious concerns about something. If they approve, they will usually do so silently by not interferring. Either that, or they don't care. However, this requires point 5; they can only consent if they feel informed.
  7. Lack of information usually indicates lack of activity. If you feel like you are out of the loop and things are being done behind your back, it usually means there is no loop, and nothing is getting done at all. Conversely, if good work is being done, but nobody is informed of it, they will usually assume the worst: that no good work is being done, and any visible change must be bad.


Silence is consent -- Tue, 12 Jul 2005 00:10:22 +1000 reply
"Silence is consent" is always absolute BS, but in this case it needs to be overridden. Other phrasing points slightly harm an otherwise good piece.

Silence is consent --DonovanBaarda, Tue, 12 Jul 2005 03:21:16 +1000 reply
In my experience, if you wait for positive confirmation of consent, you will be waiting forever. Particularly in larger organisations you will have the "silent majority" affect. The only way to get a response out of people is to propose something really obviously stupid. Consenting or disenting is something you have to do. As with point 2, if you don't do it, you haven't earned the right to. As with point 3, someone proposing something stupid is the best way to get others to respond with something better. As with point 4, if you think something is a bad proposal, respond to it yourself.

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