Friday, 8 December 2017

Collaborating (Thing 12)

Every year I help organise a Sci-fi convention – The Wexworlds Festival – and over the years we have used several tools to collaborate and share information.  

Did you work face to face, virtually or via a combination of the two?

Wexworlds Meetings and collaboration

We use a combination of both to share information and organise ourselves.  You really cannot beat meeting face-to-face so we schedule monthly meetings when we are about 10 months out, fortnightly meetings for the next couple of months and then have a meeting every week for the last 6 weeks before the event.  10 months out we are reviewing the previous year, updating our policies, aims and brainstorm the big ideas.  This wouldn’t work through any other method as the magic happens when a group of nerds get together and start bouncing ideas around. For day-to-day communication we use Facebook messenger, we have a group just set up for the committee and it’s very handy as we are all on Facebook and can bounce/reply really quickly.  We share documents on email, when we send an email to each other we put a quick message on messenger to alert each other to check your mail.   

Was your experience positive, negative or neutral?
You get out of a meeting or collaboration what you put into it.  That might sound silly, but just like making a presentation if you are prepared for the meeting it runs much better.  I do a lot of preparation beforehand and a have strict agenda otherwise the meeting gets sidetracked very easily as we start talking about the newest movie, TV series, development in technology/gaming etc.  We have the same core of volunteers now for 3 years so our meetings are very positive and we get a lot accomplished.  I think this is due to the fact we all work different schedules and it’s sometimes hard to organise a meeting so we know when we do get together we have to work really hard and stay focused. 

Did you use any of the tools outlined above?
We used Trello last year to plan our launch event but it didn’t work really well.  This is because some of the committee didn’t have reliable internet and we all have different levels of ability when it comes to technology.  We found going back to Facebook messenger was the best.  Two months out we did up a spreadsheet for our to-do-list, planning deadlines, promotion, advertising etc.  This was shared on email.  This is really good because you can see when item A needs to be finished as it affects items B, D, G & H.  It helps focus people and they can see clearly how any small job is part of the bigger machine. For the 2018 event we haven’t decided what to use but we have a new Events Manager on board who has experience using different event planning tools so we will see what they will introduce. 
If you had to do that project again what tools outlined above do you think would have been the most useful?
Ultimately, meeting face-to-face is still the best way to go.  For the 2018 festival we will be breaking into three teams, (1) Admin & finance team led up by the Treasurer, (2) Venue & Events team led by the Secretary and (3) Communications & Marketing team led by the PRO.

Wexworlds Teams

The three teams will meet independently & work regularly on assigned tasks.  Once per month the three team leaders will meet.  This means that most of the committee and volunteers are spending their limited, valuable time working on things for the festival rather than coming to meetings.  This, we think, will maximise time spent working on the project and minimise time spent at meetings.  As to what collaborative tools we will be using, we’ll  just have to wait and see what our new Events Manager introduces.  We will probably use Google Drive as all the committee can now use it.

That's it for now.

John The Captain Ryan

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