It’s Time to Talk Intentionally about What We’re Doing (Again)
I’d like to propose that we spend the equivalent of a full day of intensive time working together to achieve alignment (not necessarily consensus) on key topics of high-level importance to our organization. While most of my shilling on the topic has focused on the “strategic roadmap” outcome, I agree with those who expressed a desire for pre-work on “Mission, Vision, & Values” at Friday’s Weekly Update; time spent together aligning on these topics is an important foundation for the “Strategy, Goals, & Priorities” conversation that our organization needs to have.
I also want to acknowledge that the proposal laid out below is ambitious in both scope and timing. As a PM, keeping time for our community at a high level is one of my most important commitments to the project. The proposal outlined below is a 6-part discussion that we should try to have in as close to a unified setting as possible. That is, it would be ideal if everyone who felt called to participate in this discussion could gather in person, in a cabin somewhere with lots of togetherness and few distractions, for an intensive full-day or even weekend-long retreat. While hopefully some day in the future (next spring?) that sort of activity will be possible, this type of alignment needs to happen on a recurring basis in order to keep pace with a growing organization — nowhere more so than in an open, porous community like SourceCred.
What is more important than having this “retreat” together IRL in the mountains somewhere, is creating a well-held space where we can come together with intention, be fully present, feel meaningfully heard, and achieve, if not consensus, at least alignment on key topics that we collectively face. That is, while we may not find unanimity on one or more of the topics outlined below, it is my hope that by the end of this series of workshops, we can achieve unified understanding of the clusters of opinions and priorities around each subject, in order to enable us collectively and individually to move forward with grace.
I’ve previously proposed the week of April 5-9 for this activity, which would give us two weeks to prepare; we could also do this the week of April 12-16. Scheduling it more than 3 weeks out is unnecessary and potentially detrimental to the focus we will bring to it; while we want time for all participants, and especially presenters, to prepare for our discussions, giving ourselves too much time both increases the pressure we put on ourselves and each other to prepare something super polished — which creates a lot of work and can inhibit meaningful discussion — and also paradoxically encourages us to postpone preparation for this far-in-the-future thing until, potentially, the last minute. Here’s a LettuceMeet for those first two weeks of April.
I propose that, in those first two full weeks of April, those of us committed to the project that is SourceCred, gather together for a total of 9 to 12 hours over the course of one to two days, to discuss the 6 following topics: SourceCred’s Mission, Vision, & Values (or our Why, What, and How) and our product Strategy, Goals, and Priorities (or our Funding, Target Users, and Features) for the next 18 months. For each topic, this proposal sketches out:
- A brief description of the purpose of a workshop on that topic;
- A proposal for what a desirable outcome of the workshop might be;
- Nominations of two individuals who would be well-suited to lead content and/or activities for that session;
- An idea of how general participants might prepare.
I welcome feedback on the high-level organization of this proposed series of workshops, and particularly seconds/counters/additions to specific points (e.g. nominations of speakers, refinement of goals, ideas for participant “homework”, etc).
Content & Facilitation
In proposing this retreat, I am volunteering to coordinate logistics and support the preparation of content. I am not nominating myself as facilitator. We have a few talented facilitators within our community who may be detached enough from strategy to serve us well; this would also be an excellent occasion to hire an external, professional facilitator. Nominations of facilitators would be appreciated.
For each workshop, the two co-presenters should be able to share brief, meaningful content and design a structured large or small group activity in order to set the tone for productive work together. Ideally in each 90-120 minute session, about half the time will be spent on presentations/activities, and half on group discussion, with ample opportunity for all participants to share their thoughts in both small-group and large-group settings.
A Proposed Outline for a Two-Part Retreat
Part I: Mission, Vision, & Values
Estimated timing: 4-6 hours
1. Mission (Why)
Why are we doing what we’re doing?
Purpose: To align as a community around the “Why” of SourceCred. What calls us to exist? Why do we show up time and again?
Desired Outcome: A clear and concise Mission Statement that we can add to our website and other documents. Ideally this is a one-to-five-sentence statement that achieves true consensus among the Core team and general agreement from all participants.
- Each participant bring one sentence of what you think SourceCred’s mission is.
2. Vision (What)
Where are we trying to go?
Purpose: To re-center and clarify around our long-term vision for our product & community. What do we want SourceCred to look like in 5 years’ time?
Desired Outcome: A brief description of the shiny, polished, “full” version of SourceCred that we dream of existing in the future.
- Write a paragraph describing what SourceCred will look like in 5 years.
3. Values (How)
How do we intend to go about getting there?
Purpose: We share so many values, but many of them are unstated. Reviewing together the values & agreements that have been documented in the past, discussing them openly and with vulnerability, and revising them as needed to reflect the true shared values & agreements of our growing organization, will help us to work together more peacefully and collaborate with fewer hiccups.
Desired Outcome: Ratification of a “one-page” community Values document; collaborative revision and ratification of a set of Community Agreements.
- Review the current SourceCred Values Miro Board. With which of the outlined values do you feel most strongly aligned? Are there any that surprise you? Is there anything you find confusing?
Part II: Strategy, Goals, & Priorities
Estimated timing: 4-6 hours
4. Strategy (Funding)
How do we plan to pay for the project after December 2021?
Purpose: Protocol Labs has generously committed $1M to our project, which at our current rate of expenditure is predicted to carry us through the end of 2021. Anticipating how we expect to fund the project going forward — by what means, at what levels, under what conditions — is an important prerequisite to setting goals and priorities vis-a-vis the communities and users we hope to serve, and the features we intend to build for them.
Desired Outcome: A clear plan for funding the project through 2022, including anticipated requirements that funding path may impose (e.g. developing features to meet investor demands, or prioritizing capabilities that will attract and retain certain types of communities in order to meet revenue goals). One plausible outcome is that we collectively commit to not worrying about funding, and allowing the project to move forward past 2021 with fewer resources, even at the risk of losing contributors or slowing development of new features.
- What is a metric that you would like to build into SourceCred’s strategic roadmap? How could we track, over time, some aspect of our product or community that reflects your sense of the organization’s true values?
5. Goals (Audience & Use Cases)
Who do we want to serve?
Purpose: There are many potential use cases for SourceCred, from the project’s original goal of serving Open Source communities to the possibility of appealing to activist groups, artist collectives, and other types of organizations. Given the possibilities and constraints of our funding path, how do we want to prioritize for whom we are building over the next 18 months?
Desired Outcome: Alignment on key “Org Personae” for SourceCred (not necessarily consensus agreement that we will build for one before another, but clarity around the options and the priorities of various contributors).
- Complete a User Persona worksheet for a use-case you hope SourceCred will be able to serve in the next 12-18 months.
6. Priorities (Features & Projects)
What do we want to build?
Purpose: We have so much we want to build, and hopefully we will build it all one day. Given all the work we’ve done to get to this point — discussing our mission and values, mapping out our strategy and goals — how should we prioritize the features that we realistically can build over the next 18 months? What does a version of SourceCred for wide release look like?
Desired Outcome: A consensus-ratified set of prioritized features (product) and projects (cultivation) for the next 12-18 months; multiple paths may be possible/not undesirable.
- Review project lists and timelines in Asana
- What are 3 key features you think need to be included in “SourceCred 1.0” (a public beta release)?