Initiative Process

Given

  • Membership has been declining over the last several years.
  • Most members are minimally involved.
  • A low percentage of members attend either Zoom or in-person events.

Assumptions

  • Communication is key to member engagement. There is no such thing as too much communication.
  • Members want to belong and be part of the club. They want to see where the club is going. Let’s trust our members to have valuable and insightful input.
  • GBA Committees are opaque. There is no visibility of the development and decision processes. The only visibility are fully baked end products, impacting members and the public. There is no visibility or input from either the membership or typically the board, on committee projects.

Proposal

We currently work like Disneyland. We work hard, unseen behind the curtain, to do a large amount of stuff we think members and the public want… then open the gates, invite them in, and hope they like it. Let’s change that to Burning Man.

  • Communicate meetings
    • All Committees and Working Groups will keep meeting notes, always kept up to date and published on the web.
  • Communicate ideas before making decisions or plans.
    • All Committee and club initiatives, projects, and proposals (hereafter called “Initiatives”) will be published for member review and input before decisions are finalized and plans are made. This could be on the website, Google Docs, etc.
  • Communicate!
    • Continually reinforce Communication. Working Groups and Committees must always publish their current thoughts, notes, etc.
    • The Education Committee and BOD should devote a substantial amount of time to enabling and supporting communication.
    • Members can always see the current status of all the Initiatives, making it easy for them to jump into an Initiatives’ Working Group.
  • Prioritize Member feedback
    • We want members to feel a part of GBA - its direction, and where time and resources are being invested. 
    • Member feedback on Initiatives will be aggressively and actively solicited. 
    • Members should always have full visibility of the current status, thoughts, and direction of Working Groups.
    • A primary objective of all Working Groups is to inform the membership of their thoughts and ideas and encourage participation and input.
    • A generous amount of time (months if needed) will always be allocated for member comments, feedback, and recommendations on Initiatives. 
    • Member feedback will always be strongly considered. 
      • If a member's feedback is dismissed, a reason will be given in the Initiative document.
      • Member feedback is never ignored.
    • Member questions will be published and always answered, and clarifications made to the Initiative document. 
  • Initiatives are for a single item. 
    • Disparate projects are never conflated into one Initiative. Initiative examples: 
      • 2023 Classes
      • Fund Raising
      • SCC Fair
      • Apiary Maintenance 
  • Initiatives are from Members.
    • Initiatives are not necessarily from GBA BOD or Committees. Any member can publish and advocate an Initiative.
  • Initiatives are born ideas, not plans. 
    • Ideas spark creativity and more ideas. Plans freeze ideas.
    • Ideas are fluffy, malleable, and flexible. Plans are concrete, rigid, and resistant to change.
    • Ideas inspire. Ideas create more ideas.
    • People are attached to and feel ownership of their plans. One feels defensive when one’s plans are questioned or criticized. Plans are resistant to creativity and change.
    • Initiatives should always start as skeletons, and encourage input from anyone interested to build out the flesh. 
    • Converting an Initiative into a Plan is the last step, after aggressively lobbying members for input and related ideas.
  • Initiative documents are clear and concise.
    • Outline
      • Description
      • Benefit. Why are we proposing to do this? How does this Initiative benefit the club, the community, and the environment?
      • Resource Requirements
        • Labor
        • Financial
      • Finalization (added as the Initiative morphs into a Plan)
        • Plan outline
        • Schedule
    • Emphasize
      • Why
        • Why is this being proposed?
        • How does it benefit GBA, its members, the public, and the environment?
        • What problem is it addressing?
      • What
        • An Initiative is an attempt to address a perceived problem or challenge. What is that?
        • What exactly are we trying to accomplish? What is the goal? Who does it benefit? How?
    • All current projects should be clarified.
  • The Board and Education Committee become Service Organizations.
    • Their primary mission is:
      • Support Communication.
      • Support the Financial needs of Initiative Working Groups.
      • Encourage new ideas for Initiatives.
    • All Members, and perhaps the general public, are encouraged to propose ideas for Initiatives.
  • Now is a great time to embrace this change, as we are many months before spring activities.

 

Notes

  • Clear is kind.
    • Be clear and concise in your communications.

Pros

  • Fosters member involvement, commitment, and support of the club.
  • It forces us to plan ahead, be forthright, and think deeply about where and how we are allocating club resources.
  • It will require planning, patience, and thoughtful development of our Initiatives.

Cons

  • This significantly slows down GBA projects.
  • It will require planning, patience, and thoughtful development of our Initiatives.

Implementation

  • Initiative List.
  • This requires a large increase in the time invested in communicating. If people do not communicate, it will fail. 
  • Contributions - feedback, suggestions, thoughts - can be written, but they could also be brief videos, reels, or any other form of communication that is web friendly.
  • If you aren’t good at typing or writing, try something like this: Chrome Speech to Text (Voice Recognition). There are numerous Speech to Text tools available on the internet.
  • Facebook groups could be used for each Initiative. 
    • There is a WordPress plugin that appends Facebook posts onto a WP web page.
  • Each Initiative would have it’s own web page. 
    • If the webpage for an Initiative starts feeling too large or difficult to follow, that may be a sign the Initiative should be divided into smaller, more easily tracked and comprehended Initiatives.

3 thoughts on “Initiative Process”

  1. ARTHUR KUBOGAMELL

    I think that your initiative process is very meticulous, and I support anything that could help improve the GBA. I would like for all of us to discuss this in more detail at the next board meeting.

  2. sara cutrignelli

    There are a lot of interesting and important issues to discuss here. I have a few comments:

    1. Membership decline: I wonder why, when, and can Covid be the blame or excuse? I, personally do my own that benefits myself, GBA and 4-H.

    2. Zoom meeting attendance has significantly declined. If we book the library for 2023, we need to do it sooner than later so we can also have the meeting lists on our website. My opinion, I would rather meet in person and get to know my fellow beekeeper than continue on zoom. Perhaps we can figure out how to do these as dual. Could we still have a speaker via zoom while we stream in person and zoom? Does the library have the ability to assist with this rather than purchasing anything? Today I learned that our club used to meet at the Gilroy Grange. We can still meet there and it would be free. Mark Garrison is going to look into this.

    3. Is a speaker necessary all of the time or is even a specific topic necessary all of the time? Can we have a general meeting with a semi-formal tone: call the meeting to order, run-down old business (what we did the last meeting), new business and committee/working group updates, etc. and be done? Secretary Chris had originally given us a template of how we should do this.

    4. In I think our members would like to know what other members are doing too. This could spark other interests and allows for member networking. This is where in-person meetings are key.

    5. Communication is important for our committees so that our committee members and club members have a clear picture of what is going on with our club. Having more sub-divisions of the committee would be helpful. Although we want active transparency, some decisions should be allowed to be made based on circumstances. However, large purchases and start-up ideas need full support from the board and club members. In the case where time may be of the essence, there needs to be the ability to have the action done on this in a relatively timely manner and not ask for forgiveness later. How do we do this? Google Survey?

    5. Does our club mission match what we do and our tax code? Do our members know what it is? Do we actively seek mission-based service projects each year? Could that be something like purchasing pollinator-friendly seeds and donating them to the gardeners that plant the flowers downtown? Do we donate materials and time to help local schools build pollinator habitats and/or uplift current school gardens? How far do we consider local, even though we have members from SF to Salinas? Who heads this up?

    6. Committees: how many do we have? Education/Apiary, legislative, Santa Cruz County Fair??? Does the apiary actually fall under 2 possibilities: educational classes and then general upkeep of grounds and bees? Monthly, the legislative committee should be getting recognition and giving updates on what they are working in to garner more club and community support.

    7. A friendly reminder should always be given at the end of our meeting: “We are volunteers working together to help each other and grow our club. If you have something you would like to learn more about or something to share, please do. We love ideas and help. You help us be a better club.”

    8. Social Hive Dives need to be added to the “initiative.” These are meant to be fun gatherings with our fellow beekeepers. This is where we learn from each other and network. They do not need to have a goal or educational topic associated with them. They could be themed though, ex: bring something to share you made using a hive product. It could be edible, drinkable or physical.

    9. I would like to suggest that our club sponsor an agricultural and/or environmental sustainability scholarship each year. To which communities/schools/cities are allowed, again I think that falls under what we consider local.

  3. Several things come to mind as I read the Initiatives proposal. First, this is a great discussion to have and who knows what other ideas may develop out of this process. Second, communication is the cornerstone of all healthy relationships, and to communicate well takes time and effort. There will be a learning curve, and it takes practice. Yet, to effectively communicate to and within our GBA community could have the potential to yield some amazing benefits for all. Third, we do have many members who join the GBA, but do we really know what they want from the association or why they joined? Why is attendance at meetings not more robust? How much do we know about why a member decides to become a new or continuing member? What are members really expecting from their club? I think it would be interesting to hear responses. I look forward to the discussion that develops.

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