The dangers of Working Groups


The biggest mistake we can make about WGs is to idealize them. There’s a great conversation going on about that in one of the forums of Occupy London.

There, Jonathan Lamb wrote

“In my opinion, the danger of working groups existing in any formalized sense, is that simply because there IS a group for a certain subject, a great deal of people assume that this means that this function of the movement is being adequately dealt with by a team of dedicated, competent and experienced individuals.

Quite often this is not the case.

People also have misconceptions or differing ideas on what the responsibilities of a working group should be, as seen recently with the Finance Group (people assume that fundraising is their responsibility – it is not)

This is not said as an affront to the amazing and valuable work being done all the time by dedicated members of the occupation, but when people see there is a Sanitation working group, they don’t necessarily see that there may only be one active member, hard working as he surely is.

I really feel it could be worth setting some sort of minimum standards for working groups, and if they are consistently below those standards people could be aware of that, so we know which areas need help the most. We could call them something else then… like a Not Working Group”   🙂

Vica responded with this short but essential post:

“A weekly working group health check would encourage:

– a clear point of contact
– a regular meeting at least once a week
– an open space for debate…be it a forum, a wiki, but somewhere where the online community can interact with them. For the onsite logistics this might just be a page on the wiki with the wish list and the volunteers required.”

This is an extremely rich exchange of ideas about the dangers of Working Groups. Its participants tend to be members in many WGs of Occupy London and have a wealth of experience. This conversation is ongoing and anybody can read and join in it here.

I wish that they come up with a summary of their findings so far, so that people new to the conversation don’t have to read through 20-30 post before they can meaningfully contribute. In addition, that summary could grow into a guide on the essentials of effective WGs. We, at the Future of Occupy, are so inspired by the conversation of Jonathan, Vica, and others, that we would be happy to help with that…

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Categories: UK, Working Groups

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