Governance



  • Governance

    What a dirty word.

    Good governance with good intentions is the hallmark of our government “makerspace”. Implementation with integrity is our core passion.
    Narendra Modi

    Nonprofit governance has a dual focus

    1. The organization’s social mission.
    2. Ensuring the organization is viable.

    Both responsibilities relate to responsibility the board has with respect to the exercise of authority over the actions the organization takes. Trust and accountability are an essential aspect of organizational viability so we achieve our mission in a way that is respected by our members and community.

    Our mission is

    The purposes of the society are:

    a. To provide a physical space where makers, hobbyists, inventors, artists, engineers, and other innovative people from all walks of life, can come together and share ideas, knowledge, equipment, and opinions in a collaborative and creative atmosphere

    b. To organize and host workshops and events focused on teaching specific or broad skills related to tinkering, using tools, and making things to members and the community

    c. To provide related services and tools for fostering creativity and progress in the arts, science, and technology as determined by the members

    There are many governance structures and equally as much work done on them. Here is an interesting paper on makerspace governance.

    I believe there has been considerable resistance to formalizing a model for the space, due to concerns about it taking the freedom and creativity out of the space. I believe however it will do the opposite. Good governance can:

    • Reduce “Burn Out”
    • Set expectations
    • Reduce conflict
    • Create professionalism
    • Increase safety
    • Encourage growth
    • Define values
    • Guide decisions
    • Ensure continuity
    • Increase diversity
    • Meet legal requirements

    In order to achieve these goals, we need to start with defining our values. If a value is maintaining freedom and creativity, we must ensure that any guiding material meets that value. Organization does not destroy values it can ensure them.

    This is a big job

    Governance is not something banged together at a meeting, deliberated upon and passed. Governance is a series of methods used to ensure that decisions and actions meet our needs and values. Needs and values change, and as such so will our methods of governing ourselves. As such it is important that our board establish committees and task forces to create these frameworks. Such committees would be responsible for:

    • ByLaws
      • Reviewing and revising
      • Getting approval from
        • Membership
        • Board
        • Government
    • Policy
      • Creating policy
      • Reviewing, revising
      • Getting approval from
        • Membership
        • Board
    • Board development
      • Terms of reference (Job descriptions)
      • Orientation
      • Training
      • Succession planning
    • Strategic planning
      • Goal setting
      • Operational planning
    • Monitoring the above and making changes as needed.

    Right now these burdens are carried almost solely by the board and due to the strain, we experience burn out or the overlooking or underperformance of some of these important tasks. Implementing proper governance can reverse this and ensure we thrive in the future.

    Separate responsibilities

    It is important to understand a boards purpose is usually not in executing actions but more in setting direction. Board members can, but not always have to be directly involved execution. This has certainly created tension in the past, especially when a board member moves focus to governance issues due to frustrations they may have on an organizational level. Recognising a separation between decision making and execution will be vital in creating a safe effective organization. I applaud all the hard work of the previous board and everyone who works so hard to ensure the success of Kamloops Makerspace. By setting terms of reference we can ensure that peoples work is respected and never duplicated or devalued.

    In conclusion

    I have tried to keep this as concise as possible, however, as you can see this is a wide-ranging and important subject; that resembles a significant challenge for us to overcome in 2018 and the future. I would like to be part of governance on a committee level and talk to it at further length at the planning session January 14th, 2018. I have not covered everything here as I aimed more to explain the general need for addressing this. I look forward to everyones input of this.

    edits:
    @kile 08jan18—added tags
    @kile 15jan18—moved topic to Governance catagory


  • Classroom

    @Nicholas. Yes.



  • @kile on a related note markdown on the forum is great. Nice and accessible everybody should learn a new skill to make a decent looking post on a forum.


  • Classroom

    @Nicholas, great tutorial! I’ve added it to an old Markdown thread. Great use of Markdown above, but the content really takes the cake IMO.

    Thanks for posting!


  • Classroom

    @Nicholas said:

    Governance is not something banged together at a meeting, deliberated upon and passed. Governance is a series of methods used to ensure that decisions and actions meet our needs and values. Needs and values change, and as such so will our methods of governing ourselves. As such it is important that our board establish committees and task forces to create these frameworks.

    This is worth reading twice. Thanks again @Nicholas!


  • Classroom

    Here is a 10 min video that does a good job explaining governance from a Canadian historical perspective. Not all of it is relevant to the makerspace (besides providing context to what we are doing), but I think its pretty interesting. There are lots of other resources available on the site.

    For those who don’t have the 10 min to spend, here are the important facts the video spells out for framing this conversation around the space.

    Governance—how society (or groups within it) organize to make decisions.

    Which raises the questions:

    1. Who has a voice in making decisions?

    2. How are decisions made?

    3. Who is accountable?

     

    I think at the organizational level we have decided everyone for 1, and for 3 the legal answer, I believe, is the board (to some extent), but we can do better. In theory, the organization seems to support shop coordinators have some level of authority/accountability in the decision making process, but there are no details or mechanisms in place around this.

    For 2, well, . . .

    . . . well, for 2, . . .

    . . . well, H, E, double hockey sticks—I don’t know what to say.

    Hence, my desire to have @Nicholas present to the membership on the topic. Thanks for stepping up here good buddy!

    Edits:
    @kile 08jan18—grammar


  • Classroom

    @Nicholas, the paper looks interesting, but the link seems to just go to the abstract (which contains the useful chart below).

    Do you have the full thesis? I’m jealous of this guy, he did a grad degree at McGill, which is in Montreal—the most epically debaucherous yet oddly cultured of Canadian cities—and he go hang around in Toronto a bunch interviewing/touring makerspace. Now that would be a fun degree.

    0_1515469099360_screenshot.png


  • Classroom

    Bump. Read this and come to the space tonight!