Next (Six) Steps for IOPS?

At the beginning of the year I sent out a group message to all IOPS members asking the following questions –

  • What should be the objective for the IOPS group for 2011?  
  • How can we begin to move towards a fully functioning international organisation over the next 12 months?
  • What should be the next steps for IOPS?  
  • How can we better utilise the facilities on the IOPS group page?

Before trying to answer these questions I would like to highlight some issues / problems that the group seems to be having.
Whilst there does seem to be a steady trickle of new members to the group there does not seem to be an equally steady increase in activity within it.  If the increase in new members to the group is to be understood as a reflection of a growing awareness and support of participatory vision and strategy then this is of course great!  However, surely we all agree that there is something wrong if this growing support is not also resulting in organisational developments?  If we presume that those who join a group with “participation” in its title will want to be (in some way or another?) active supporters of that organisation then we must ask what, currently, is missing at the IOPS group structure.  Okay, so this leads us back to the above questions which I will now try to address.  

The following six suggestions are what I would like to see implemented into the IOPS group during 2011 in order to move the group towards a fully functioning organisation with yet further potential for future growth.  

ONE – Categories of membership:

What I want to propose here is that we have three different categories of membership –

1) “Donors” might be members who want or can only make a financial contribution to IOPS.

2) “Supporters” might be members who also want to make a financial contribution but also can / want to help with organising whilst finding out more about participatory vision and strategy.

3) “Organisers” might be members who make a financial contribution and lead on organising events, fund raising, education etc.  These are people who have demonstrated an understanding and commitment to participatory vision and strategy – maybe witnessed by the content on their ZSpace.  

But why have three categories of members?  Well one answer is that it accommodates what people can offer.  As already stated, I think we should assume that people who join this group will want to be active within it in some way or another.  However, not everyone can make the same level of commitment.  It therefore makes sense to try to accommodate for this.

But isn’t this elitist?  Not if all the categories are open to all members.  The categories are not there to create some kind of hierarchy but rather to accommodate the different life situation people find themselves in.  As peoples circumstances / priorities changes they can quite easily change categories also.  

TWO – Funding:

As we can see from the above descriptions of the different categories, all members are expected to make a financial contribution to the group.  It seems to me that there is no reason why fees should vary from category to category.  So, putting aside exceptional circumstances – which, of course, we should also try to take into consideration – it seems fair that the minimum membership fee for all members should be set at x percentage of annual income (x to be determined by the group).  

THREE – International gathering:  

I would also like to suggest that all of the funds raised by membership fees (plus any other additional donations raised / contributed) be put exclusively to help cover the costs of a future international gathering.  This gathering could be understood as a public launch for the IOPS where members could also discuss and finalise future plans for the organisation.  
In the meantime additional fund raising for local activities can be undertaken by regional chapter.  

FOUR – Rights and responsibilities:

On the one hand we want IOPS to be open to as many members as possible.  But, on the other hand we also want to make sure that the organisation stays on track and is not taken over by members who have little or no understanding of participatory vision and strategy.  This is a difficult balancing act!  
To get around this problem I would like to suggest that –
Only members who are “organisers”  have the right to vote on issues relating to IOPS.
Members who are “supporters” have a responsibility to help out with organising efforts – the level of which to be mutually decided upon by individual supporters and organisers.  
All members have a responsibility to make a financial contribution to the group.

FIVE – Highlight regional organisers / chapters on group page:

In line with the above suggestion for a category of organisers I think it would be useful to highlight such members as initial contacts for regional chapters on the group page.  This would help to illustrate to visitors of the group page something of the structure of the intended structure of the group and also possibly give potential new members a first point of contact for their area.  

SIX – Quarterly reports:  

An additional activities for organiser and supporter members to get involved in could be to produce a IOPS Group Quarterly Report.  The report could be put together by a rotating working group made up of members.  The content of the report would also be produced by members – both individually and as chapters – and would address specific issues relating to IOPS efforts.  It could act as both an internal source of communication for existing members as well as allowing non-members to see what we, as an organisation, and about and involved in.  
The quarterly report would be published on the IOPS group page as well as on ZNet’s top page and maybe could also go out as a hard copy with ZMag.  The quarterly report could be a very good way to generate further support and build membership for IOPS.  

My feeling is that if we implemented these six suggestions into the existing IOPS group we would be well on our way to establishing a functioning organisation.  Furthermore I believe that, if made real, over the next 12 months or so, these new features would make further international growth much more likely.

Please let me know what you think. 

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