I believe that we need to add an intense focus on onboarding and UX to the ATXHS, since a lot of the now usual work is handled very capably already by other members of the Board.
Since I believe that such emphasis would be best served by a new-er member (I am around my 6-month mark), who knows his way around sort of but still is experiencing the "growing pains" of being all new and all, and in the absence of anyone other with that profile, I feel it is my duty is to sign up for the executive package and perks that come with this office. There is nothing wrong with Danny or Gardner, actually much can be said for them. Danny is very experienced and highly capable, and generous with his time and knowledge. I have gratitude and respect for much of his effort, despite a disagreement here and there. Gardner I know little in person, but I see him around the lists. There is much good and merit and honor with the Old Guard also. They have kept the 'space alive through a major crisis - the move, and have set it in the path to thrive, and what we have is very much the fruit of their labors.
Yet, some new blood might be a good idea. I remember Marshall Peck suggesting precisely that for his replacement. I paid little attention at the time, since I was then /very/ new, but his opinion has been a bit of an inspiration for me to dare step forward.
It's just that - maybe to seek and attract new people, something we very much need just to cover expenses and stay afloat, and even more, to invest and improve, maybe we could benefit with someone new, whose ideas are not necessarily what we are used to. I'm not just new, I also know my way around a lot of actual hacking and making, yet I am hardly a leader, and I need to learn much, and share even more. Opinionated, acerbic sometimes,irrevenrent and silly, sure, but I rather feel more at ease in conciliatory collaboration where "leadership" is the servant attitude, and much joy comes from the give and take.
It's for the Hackbats to decide...
In the interest of full disclosure, being new might have its advantages (fresh viewpoint, less dependence with those parts of established tradition that needs changing), but also lacks in "knowing". Hmm, that bug is a feature, as in, new members should not /need/ to know how everything is done, having full safe and productive enjoyment of the space needs IMHO more focus on making it less dependent of knowing it already, more easy on the newcomer. Personaly I am busy. With a startup in my hands, I have been doing 20 hour workdays regularly (with 8 hours sleep it has made for a scaling daylength (XKCD/320)). While in the middle of my work I keep doing things for the 'space (like the washer tub for the laser honeycomb, the silkscreen classes, the woodcut printing press), I really wish I could have even more time for the 'space, which I do not.
However, I feel I could do it - at least the part that really has to be done in person by the Exec, but only because I feel the title is just that visible tip (insert iceberg joke here) of team effort and community opinion, where the Exec is merely a representative of the collective, respectful of the commons rather than an able displayer of his own opinions - which I have and am ready to share, but I know they are not necessarily those of the Coop, willing to defer as necessary for the good of all.
May those lines above serve as an intro. Even more fun: I am taking to the road tomorrow for an extended trip to the Northeast, family trip that had been planned long before I got myself into my business. That means I will not be in person for the QA session. oh joy. I am taking a webcam with, and we'll see about doing that remotely. Or a Reddit something. or something.
Feel free to ask questions, private email or list, etc. Warm fuzzies in private emails much needed. I feel I might be biting more than I can chew, and some reassurance might help feel this might actually be not a completelly bad idea (getting oneself in a voluntary board position is seldom a good idea...).
- art by idakoos. If they use my name, I feel OK in using their designs.
- how do you solve a complicated situation among our directors?
- (Yama) It would be maybe too much to hope that anyone can solve a
complicated situation outright. However, it is the ED role to somehow get into this kind of situations and help the parties to allow it to be solved, seeking a compromise, being, hopefully, outside of the conflict itself so as to facilitate a space for tempers to cool and a solution to set.
- as an ED, how do you see your role in the future of the HS
- (Yama) The "Chairman" has three designated roles: public voice,
organizer, investor-seeker. Let me add a fourth, that actually makes everything else come together: enabler. Yes, the ED is to be the "face", but I see that as a crisis mode or Big Event thing. Everyone in the 'space can and should be a "face" of the 'space for normal business. Same with organizer - we certainly do not want a chief sargent who knows it all and tells people what to do! And, while the ED *must* be active seeking funds, our results will be better when he manages to get more people involved in that. Yes, the buck stops here, the ED must "lead". But the more members are doing more things, the better we'll hack.
- as ED how do you foresee the amount of time that you invest in the
space going forward
- (Yama) Well, it is known that for all practical purposes I have moved
my awake hours here... I am right now starting a business that relies, maybe too much, on the laser cutter. I have the desire to negotiate eventually for working space sort of Revolt, bringing in my own laser cutter when I acquire one. This is to say that I am here for the long haul. As a break from my own stuff, I am continually involved in making improvements and diverse hacking for the 'space, and anyone who has been here when I am knows I am ready to help and share. Bottom line, I will invest all the time I have. What helps the space helps my business, almost directly, so I have all to gain by being here a lot.
- regarding the ED chairing position, how do you set up the agenda and
how do you organize meetings and keep them on time
- (Yama) I want to help us keep our meetings short and sweet. Use
online tools to deal with as much of the debate as we can, so that people already know what is going on and we can be prompt in sorting out some details better dealt with face to face, and move on. And, more than anything, listen to other suggestions. There *must* be ways to do these meetings better
- what are your stances on transparency
- (Yama) total and uncompromising. The only excuse for non-transparent
activity by officers is when dealing with matters that require discretion by statute or best practice. If necessary, I will propose that Board meetings happen online in chat form, to force all discussion to be viewable by members, or maybe recorded. I wish we do not need that, but maybe we do. Will seek the opinion of the members regarding this, whether I am elected or not.
- the responsibility of being the face of the organization to the
outside world, do you have specific ideas on how you would approach specific organizations?
- (Yama) I am looking forward to leverage the CEO role to gain access
to the media, government, industry, to get the Hackerspace to receive recognition and respect. Right now the City of Austin is hiring a Director of Innovation, whose tasks include a lot of what we do already - been talking with a C level person there about it. Workforce wants to find ways to train people. Small Business Administration wants to empower people to enterprise. Schools know STEM is needed, but have no idea where to find "makers" to show kids that sky is the limit. I believe that there is much that the 'space can gain and contribute to society, and the ED "face" role is precisely to help such links happen, together with other members.
- (some comment about a private list, handling personal/financial issues)
- (Yama) see my comment re: transparency. Members that are not officers
are free to converse as they please, in public or private. However, IMHO, this freedom is not for board officers. Decision-making discussions MUST be public as much as possible, even if not including the full board. An officer loses some of his own liberties, alas, that's the way things are to be done.
- what is in your opinion the most pressing issue facing the Hackerspace and what should we do about it
- (Yama) I believe our most urgent need, and best Return on Investment short and long term is in getting new members up to full speed.
When new members are using the 'space, cleaning the 'space, getting involved in committees, everything else will fall into place, as we will have an inclusive, active community. We already have improved how we receive visitors. Now, let's all figure out how to get them into doing things. Will it be mentors? Informal "classes"? "Old" members are doing fine, they meet, joke, clean, move, fix. If we go beyond being "inviting", to being "family" of old and new, our money issues, organization, will sort of solve by themselves.
- as an ED how do you see finding angel investors and other types or forms of investors that could help growth of the Hackerspace
- (Yama) AFAIK angel investors want a high double digit return. I doubt a Coop is something they may care about, but maybe I am ignorant. Let's find out. As to other investors, sure. Yet, they will want to see action. I believe that facilitating members and friend institutions be more involved will, by itself, become our best attractor for investors. Likewise, as long as we have little going on to show, we are a terrible investment that might get a gift or two, but not a serious for-profit investment.
- as an ambassador and ED what sort of outreach program would you have if the future of the Hackerspace grows and continues to grow within the community? would you have outreach for grammar school, high school, to introduce new generations to the arts of hacking, basically new skills... What tactics would you use in order to make this happen?
- (Yama) I am a co-founder/organizer of Kidbot.org. That was a free summer program, come-as-you-are walk-in workshop run by The Robot Group volunteers last year. This is just one of many outreach activities I have ready to roll out if there is a place and people to do it. Geekid.org was trying to be a Kickstarter with robotics and electronics that I put together. With our new classroom, with more talent coming in, I'm sure we can do even better as a community.
- as ED how do you handle conflict of interest
- (Yama) By being open and inviting members to keep us honest. One example: as I mentioned, I intend to run my startup from the 'space, rent some work space if possible. That will be a huge conflict of interest if I am elected. In that case, I will ask for extra transparency and involvement of the membership. It will be hazzle, but if it avoids even the smidgen of a doubt about special privileges, it is worth it. One exception to being public: if a member complains to me about some such inappropriate behavior by another officer or member. Such complaints will, of course, remain confidential as per best practices anywhere until action requiring public disclosure happens.
- as Ed being the public face you often hear the first complaints. Can you give any example of a sour note or a public complain and how you would turn it into an opportunity for assuagement.
- (Yama) It was obvious that we were doing a poor job receiving visitors, this was a clear "sour note". My strategy was to address the matter to the community, which then took over so well that I think many are not even aware that it was I who started the current "onboarding" enthusiasm... (just search the first occurence of "onboarding" in our mailing lists)
- specific issue case
- The public personna. Attitude of the people in the lists. People come for open house, the way arguments are held in public represent the Hackerspace
- (Yama) I am always concerned about the wide area between being assertive enough and being too sharp. I know that individuals have different places where they draw the line, and inevitably someone will be unhappy with your tone, unless you do and say nothing, which is the only way to make zero mistakes.That, alas, is not my style. I believe in getting involved. I ask the members to help me, and all of the officers, in that regard. The recent mailing list discussion regarding these issues was great in showing us how we must improve a few really bad attitudes.
- onboarding new members, specific ideas how this might be brought about
- (Yama) The first step was to be more welcoming. The next step is not to lose those gains, and build venues for involvement. A couple ideas: events. Personal follow up. More simple tasks that new members can perform, feeling they are allowed and welcome to do them. Signs, labels, written instructions. Make it easy to do things safely and with success. Ask new members what they need to get going. Vital: keep old members feeling recognized, and recognize them further for their success at onboarding new ones.
sort of Snadbox for pages that will be moved elsewhere
The following page have been created in my Talk page with the intention that they will be moved to another part of the Wiki as the order is given. User:Yamaplos/SpecialInterestGroups