Better organisational decision making
It bothers me that last night, the Hackerspace.sg plenum exhibited various qualities about meetings I just hated. Not to single out Hackerspace.sg, I've been in other societies and worked in other companies where the "group" decision making is just as dysfunctional in my opinion.
- Meetings are synchronous
- Decisions are made by the people who show up
- If person can't attend the meeting, the person can't contribute to discussion or vote
- Exercising Robert's rules can be slow
- Discussing any point synchronously is slow
- Making a speech or ensuring all the points are clearly recorded is near impossible
- Longer the meeting goes or the more issues addressed, the harder it becomes to garner focus and make good decisions
- Lots of time wasting, no set limit to arguments
- Things can go in circles, especially if someone did not listen carefully
Ideally there is some designated leader just listening and calling the shots. That's honestly my preference. See BDFL
My technological ideas for group decision making
- Force discussions to happen on a mailing list, identified by URL
- Summarise salient points of discussion on mailing list, by highlighting text at URL
- Have an online voting system where absentee votes can be cast
As for synchronous meetings, they probably still need to happen. Email debates are rarely effective, especially if any participant has poor email etiquette or employs intentionally or not, some disruptive tactic.
For meetings, a very orderly, time limited "English parliamentary" style debate could be organised for big issues. At least two people, on each side of clearly defined topic with 3-5 minute speaking slots, which is broad casted or at least recorded.
Again, an online voting system would be used, but the voting window is short, i.e 10 minutes after the synchronous debate.
What are synchronous meetings good for?
Matters of discipline or some other urgency or crises is probably a good fit.
I doubt even summarising is a good use of everyone's time at a meeting. Summarising points is best done asynchronously, independently of bias and can be very tedious.
Nominal issues must be addressed and recorded by email, identified by URL.
A meeting must address some communication break down, which is fairly common by email or other recorded mediums like IRC.