A DoES Liverpool Re-org

8th January 2014

tl; dr – we’re shifting how DoES is organised a bit, jump to “Three Overlapping Groups” to skip the history of how we got here…

Since it started back in 2011, DoES Liverpool has (deliberately) had a fairly loose organisational structure. Because it’s run by the members, for the members, and because everyone is a volunteer there’s a tendency for it to be a do-ocracy – what gets done is mostly what people are motivated enough to do. We are Do Epic Shit Liverpool after all, not Talk About Epic Shit…

We haven’t found the people who enjoy emptying bins, restocking the tuck shop, or answering emails to book the laser-cutter yet (though if that’s you, we should talk… 😉 but luckily there’s a core group of organisers who realise that taking care of the boring stuff is the only way things work. Plus there’s a wider community of people happy to help out for more occasional tasks, like decorating New Dinky or helping move laser-cutters…

It’s never been perfect – with more marketing we probably could have grown more quickly, and at times I think the organisers have focused on doing and neglected some of the explaining what was going on. This blog post is part of us trying to do better on that latter point as things get rejigged a little.

Despite all that, we’ve grown steadily over the two-and-a-half years we’ve been running – taking on two extra rooms, and continually improving the facilities: whether that’s the second (and huge) laser-cutter or vinyl cutter we’ve recently added to the workshop; or kitting out New Dinky to make it work as both hot-desk space and event room. More importantly, the number of people calling DoES home continues to grow – we’re going to have to squeeze in some extra desks if we get many more residents and we’re running out of free evenings for all the meetups and events taking place: out of 26 days that the building is open in January, there’s an event or meetup taking place on 16 of those days.

For a while now, we’ve been wondering how we can best adapt to cope with the admin overhead (for want of a better term) that generates. You might remember talk about taking on a part-time administrator, and while we haven’t done that yet, it’s still a possibility.

We’ve also begun to understand that we need to have a longer-term view of how DoES Liverpool could, or should, look to evolve. How does DoES fit into the wider tech, maker and startup community in Liverpool, in the UK, in the world?

Thinking about this isn’t a particularly new thing, these have all been recurring themes discussed among the organisers and the wider community on many occasions (only some of which involving the pub…) since long before DoES came into existence.

However, towards the end of last year we (organisers plus a few others) decided it was time to more formally acknowledge how things have been evolving…

Three Overlapping Groups

The organisational activities within DoES seem to be split largely into three groups – events; day-to-day; and longer-term/wider picture. They are all equally important to the functioning of the community, and there’ll be plenty of overlap in membership between the different groups. However, focusing on one aspect at a time lets the right people get together without bogging them down in discussions they don’t (passionately) care about.

There’ll still be ad-hoc groups formed for specific tasks or projects, but these are the core continual groups. Until something better emerges… 😉

Event Organisers Group

Paul Freeman has been the unofficial “ents manager” for a while now, and with the number of events being held at DoES Liverpool these days, there are quite a few people who run them who aren’t part of the organisers group.

An event organisers group will let them share tips on what works and what doesn’t, cross-promote new events/groups, and discuss things like Paul’s proposed improvements to New Dinky. For now, discussions for this group will remain on the general DoES mailing list, but Paul will be reaching out to the events organisers to see what they think (and check that they know about the mailing list!)

Organisers Group

This is likely to be the biggest group, or at least the most active. Responsible for day-to-day running of the space – answering emails about hot-desking or laser-cutting; emptying bins; making sure there’s someone to cover opening up each day or any evenings there’s an event on; ordering consumables; restocking the kitchen stores; etc.

Not that everyone in the group has to do all of those tasks, but it’s the group making sure that the space works and people can get on with their real projects when they’re at the space. As such, it’s helpful if the organisers are people who are around regularly, but there are probably tasks where that’s not essential.

Radar Group

This group takes a longer-range perspective on DoES. Both in terms of time – what could DoES look like in a year? How do we work that out? What do we need to do to head in that direction? – and also in the wider community – how does DoES present itself to the rest of the city? Are there other groups we could work with to everyone’s benefit?

We think it makes sense for this group to also have a couple of people on it from outside of the normal DoES community – people who’ll bring different expertise and perspectives to help us develop and grow, and reach more diverse communities. To that end, one of the first tasks of the radar group will be to identify who those people would be, so if you’ve any suggestions of individuals or of ways that DoES lacks diversity or skills, then let us know. You can post to the thread about this on the DoES mailing list (details on joining the mailing list are here) or email radar@doesliverpool.com.

What Next?

There’s a thread to discuss this on the DoES mailing list, or if you’d like to make less public comments then email hello@doesliverpool.com or speak/email one of the organisers (Adrian McEwen, John McKerrell, Paul Freeman, Steve Sparrow, Hakim Cassimally, Patrick Fenner, Andy Goodwin).

There’s also the next organisational meeting this coming Friday, 10th January, at 5:30pm in New Dinky at DoES Liverpool (with the option to convene to a pub afterwards…). Strictly speaking this will be the first meeting of the Organisers Group, but is likely to be a bit of a transitional one from Events/Organisers/Radar to separate meetings.

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