Community Rhythms

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Overview

"A group that isn't communicating regularly doesn't exist as a group."

Richard D. Bartlett, during a workshop by the Hum.

As part of our Commitment Statement, the DisCO team prioritizes steady communication and team rhythms. These rhythms are largely adapted from Rich Bartlett's Patterns for Decentralised Organising.

Some of the following was discussed during Guerrilla Translation's two Hervás 2018 meetings (where DisCO was birthed).

Communications Rhythms summary

Clear communication is one of DisCO's core values. To ensure that these values are taken care of we have agreed to adapt the Rhythms from Rich's book. New members who are not used to these rhythms will have a "ease-in" period where they will be mentored and reminded about the rhythms by committed DisCO members until they pick up the beat.

On that note, within DisCO we've agreed to gently remind each other of the commitment to these rhythms. This shouldn't be seen as negative or a critique, but as mutual support. It's important we all agree to help each other and to be attentive when being reminded.

The Rhythms go from Daily, Weekly, Biweekly, Monthly, Quarterly and Biannually:

Daily: Check-in

Everyone (unless on holiday or sabbatical) is expected to "check in" during workdays on Mattermost's DAILY CHUCK-IN! thread. Yes, even if you're not doing any DisCO work that day. That's fine, but still check in. We have adapted the four questions used in Loomio. When you check in please answer them briefly:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • How are you feeling today?
  • Do you have any blocks or problems?
  • What are you doing for your well-being?

When checking in on a Monday, you just mention what you did on Friday. By using Clockify you'll have no trouble remembering, just look back at what you did the last day.

Feel enabled to express yourself and your emotional state. No additional conversation needs to take place in "Daily Check in", just acknowledgement (for example, a thumbs-up beneath each person's check-in). We can always follow up on the DisCO Town Square, Random, thematic Mattermost channels or personal messages.

If you're going on holidays, disconnecting from the Internet, etc., please communicate it. Otherwise all committed members are counted as "active". We expect that this will take 5 minutes maximum a day. Also, the focus here is mainly on DisCO work, but if you haven't done any DisCO work, just tell us what you're doing (this includes "Nothing" "I'm in a bad mood and can't get any work done, etc". It's OK)

Weekly: Check Loomio, Trello and Working Circles and Time Tracking

During the Week

If you are going to do any DisCO work, we suggest that you check Loomio and your Trello updates daily. If not, please check every two or three days (Tuesday and Thursday, for example). We are continually making decisions and having discussions on Loomio which will affect you, so your voice is needed. Votes are usually set for three days - it's OK if you don't look at it every day, but if you miss it it creates trouble for those who are working more actively.

Every Tuesday: Working Circles Check-In

Monday is when the Working Circles check in with each other and when we do an overall personal check in. This includes:

  • Looking at your Circle's Trello boards, checking pending cards and due dates.
  • Looking at the Loomio threads for each circle to note whether you need to contribute to any of these
  • The steward of each circle does a quick check-in on Mattermost for the circles they handle. This includes mentioning any outstanding tasks, checking the vibe of the circle, seeing whether anything needs to be ported to Loomio, etc.

All of this allows you to self organize your carework for the week ahead.

Every Tuesday: DisCO Weekly Sprint Call

Every Tuesday all full members are expected to attend the Weekly Sprint Call. This 1.5 hour call gives us the chance to go through the current Sprint Trello Card of work that need to be done, update each other on progress, prioritize and delegate tasks, get a feel for what different Working Circles are working on and just generally touch base with each other. Each member is expected to have gone through all Trello cards they are tagged on and identify items that should be brought up when addressing the relevant Working Circles during the call.

The current time for this call in our respective time zones is:

  • 16:30-18:00 CET
  • 15:30 -17:00 GMT
  • 17:30-19:00 EET
  • 7:30-9:00 PST


Our Weekly Sprint Calls have a template structure:

  • Check-in: We do a VERY fast (30 secs per person) check in. If you need a longer check in and Mattermost is not the best format, signal the team (especially if you need some mutual support).
  • News!: Stewards can chime in here briefly about big picture overview.
  • SPRINT!: This is the main body of the call. The host will ask Circle stewards to read each of the checklists. Once read, the host checks if anyone has their hands up or wants to comment.
    • Don't talk over people. Raise your hand (or say something in the chat) and the host will make sure you're being heard.
    • We set the Checklists to "SHOW COMPLETED ITEMS" to see what's been ticked off, yay!
    • Items in italics are currently in progress!
  • Housekeeping: Here we can discuss the theme of Thursday's vibe call, or anything else everyone needs to be aware off
  • Final round: The host will ask everyone to add anything they feel like. You can always say "pass" if you feel you don't have anything to add.

All members are expected to do a little bit of housekeeping and preparation prior to the call to keep it as smooth as possible.

We try to make things snappy in a good natured way: what this means is that if we start to belabour a point too much we signal that for discussion on Loomio or an additional VOIP call if needed.

Even though we are an online collective, the Weekly Sprint Call isn't meant to be a "catch-up". We expect everyone to be aware of the pulse and mood of the collective through the daily check-in, asynchronous communications, mutual support and mentoring, bi-lateral calls and all our communications in Loomio and Trello. The sprint call doesn't substitute any of these community-building actions and it's kept task and goals oriented (while also being convivial and celebratory!).

We don't take notes or summarize during the sprint call. Partly because when anything "big" needs to be reflected, we follow up on Loomio. After the call, members also note their to-dos on Trello. We also want to encourage everyone to join the calls (they're fun!) and not feel that they can "just read the summary". We are able to do this because good daily and weekly communication rhythms ensure that everyone is in sync.

We rotate "Hosts": Hosts are the moderators of the call. They lead the conversation and ensure that everyone's opinion is heard. The host prepares for the call and reads out the various items to be discussed, provides necessary hyperlinks and, in general, keeps the flow going. To ensure focus, hosts can urge the team to move certain conversations to Loomio when needed.

Every Thursday: DisCO Vibe Spacetime

Thursday Vibe Calls are gently paced, community building calls that can be used to mentor and mutually support each other. They are not about our productive targets and to-do lists, but rather about DisCO Vibe. We determine what the meetings are about and who would benefit from attending based on current group needs.

For the Thursday Vibe Call we have an open Bucketlist in Loomio, where each member can suggest ideas or topics for future Vibe calls, which the collective later votes on, to decide the order of the topics.

Once a month, the Thursday Vibe Call gets replaced by the Monthly BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) Call. Any team member can host this and can fill it with art/music or any other activity that might help bring the whole of the collective to the call. We get to know each other this way and those sides of us that are harder to share when we are racing towards deadlines together.

The Thursday space can also be used for more productivist Working-Circle breakouts when needed and impromptu meetings.

For convenience this calendar invite is sent to all DisCONauts, who may then choose not to schedule a particular event in this spot or not. The allocated times are:

  • 16:00-17:30 CET
  • 15:00 -16:30 GMT
  • 17:00-18:30 EET
  • 7:00-8:30 PST


Monthly: Finances and Payout

Following the Monthly Payment Pipeline section of our Governance Model, once expenses are settled, we pay down accumulated credit shares on a per month basis. In the future, we'd like these payments to be automatized.

Quarterly: SpaceCAMP!

Quarterly objective: Shared focus and high autonomy.

This is where we analyze the previous three months and whether everyone has kept to the agreed commitments, whether we need to make any changes, etc. It also coincides with our onboarding of new team members. These quarters take place in the week or so between the equinoxes and solstices and traditional corporate quarters. We characterize them as:

  • Winter (Dec 21st - Jan 1st)
  • Spring (March 21st - April 1st)
  • Summer (Jun 21 - Jul 1st)
  • Autumn (Sept 21st - Oct 1st)

Here is what the Loomio Handbook has to say about their quarterly meetings:

Every quarter, we have an away day (preceded and followed by various preparation and workshops), where we take stock of where we are relative to our overall vision, annual plan, and emerging reality, and decide what to focus on for the coming 3 months. This allows us to update our understanding of our annual plan as we learn more, and the world changes, and adjust course accordingly.

Read the rest here (scroll down to "quarterly").

SpaceCAMP Retrospective protocol

During the quarterly retrospective, we undertake:

  • An examination of where we are relative to our overall vision.
  • A discussion about our focus for the next three months.
  • Working together retrospective: What works and doesn't (feels, vibe, particular grievances, particular systems and processes, etc). The retro is held in Loomio.
  • A discussion on power and sense of fairness in the collective.
  • A review of whether we've upheld the agreed-on commitments.
  • Evaluation of Dating member's progress, including their quarterly milestones. This includes feedback on their DisCO buddies.
  • A specific Credit Retrospective for the quarter. Read the link to find out more.
  • An Hours Retrospective which is contrasted to the results of the Credit Retrospective above.
  • The official onboarding of new dating members, this includes their commitment statement.
  • Renewal of all current member's commitment statements.
  • Discussion and retrospective on changes to the governance model.
  • Update our roles/availability with a summary of changes and specifying Working Circles.
  • Evaluate the Quarterly Retrospective process: what you liked, what can be improved etc
  • Recording: Ensuring that everyone has access to and approves of the meeting notes (and whether to share them via a blog post, newsletter article, etc.
  • Creating a new Season tab within the Seasons Timeline and set the goals for the quarter that ensues.


It is important to take some time one or two days before the quarterly meeting and work individually on our own credit and hour retrospectives, dating assessment, pro-bono and livelihood wordcounts and new commitment statement so as to make the meeting more fluent. We also recommend going through the last retrospective to better frame the conversation.

Bi-Annually or Annually: Retreats

Retreats: Build relationships + trust + vibe.

This is where we do our best to get together in person to hang out, ritualize intent, go dancing etc. We may also speak about work (specially when the biannual or annual retreat coincides with a quarterly evaluation) but that would be kept to one specific day and no more. If the other communication rhythms are "in time" we won't need to get into worky stuff so much and can concentrate on having some much needed offline but on-LIFE time and share our feelings in creative, supportive and convivial ways.

Yearly Planning and Mid-term Strategy

This slower rhythm deserves a section of its own. Our yearly planning and long term strategy includes inviting external peers (our "extended family") to help us think creatively about the collective's goals and vision for the future.

In May of 2018 a very successful Guerrilla Translation Reloaded Meeting was held, and DisCO came to be! It is our intention at DisCO to create a similar experience, inviting new and old members to share this convivial space every year. Similar to GT's 2018 workshop, this will be a combination of celebratory community time and strategic discussions. These workshops, however, should not coincide with our biannual or annual collective retreats (which can be held on the next quarter, i.e., the beginning of Summer, with an in-team follow up).

Conclusion

The more we communicate the less we have to work. Seriously! It makes everyone more responsible, and helps create a shared sense of ownership.

If when reading this, you've thought to yourself "It's too much!!", please say so in our dedicated Community Rhythms Loomio thread. Let's have a discussion, let's speak about our commitment and what we are prepared to do. All opinions are welcome but, please, don't keep it to yourself if you disagree.

If you need help keeping the rhythms present, be open to the team's help, we all want to remind and help each other. We also suggest printing the image above and keeping it visible in our workplaces.

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