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Unclear division of labor

The problem we see

Who's in charge of what? Sometimes there isn't one clear contact person at 1cc/OLPC, and this means it's hard to figure out how to get in contact with whom to get things done. There aren't clear community interfaces, and people who want to come in and help are just expected to somehow know how to "do things themselves."

How we'll avoid it

Each project will be assigned a point-person or herder, and the various hats/responsibilities worn by people involved in ILXO will be listed in one canonical place ( The four staff members should always know at any given point in time which of the other three staffers to point to for what things.

There will be a clear, single, canonical "how you can help" page ( with tasks that individuals can pick up on.

Overloaded people become bottlenecks

The problem we see

People who do know a lot get overloaded and become bottlenecks for "their" information. Too much information is tied up in people's heads and inboxes.

How we'll avoid it

How much we can avoid the phenomenon of people overloading is hard to say.

We can try to reduce the bottlenecking by spreading information around and making a strict policy of documenting all work and communications in a public space - if something isn't documented publicly, it doesn't exist. If meeting notes aren't posted, the meeting didn't happen; if a proposal isn't on the wiki it was never written ("it's in my inbox somewhere" is the same as non-existence).

One proposal that we might implement for this is to have everyone carry notebooks and do a "processing dump" on what they've been up to on a regular basis - this will also help us follow up on the things we think of and say we'll do.

There is no answer

The problem we see

Sometimes there isn't a clear answer to a question. This isn't really a problem. The problem is that sometimes it's not clear that there isn't a clear answer.

How we'll avoid it

When people ask us questions, we will strive to - unless it's impossible - make the ensuing dialogue public (as per above, if it's not public then it hasn't really gotten asked). If there's an answer, we'll make the answer public (stripping out personal information unless permission is given). More importantly, if there isn't an answer that we know of, we will make the dialogue public and make public the fact that we don't know the answer. This makes it easier for the person who asked to get help elsewhere.

There is an answer, but it's hard to find

The problem we see

Lots of answers exist. Tons of them. Answers to questions asked every day. These answers are very hard to find.

How we'll avoid it


Gap between leaders and followers

The problem we see

There's occasionally a (perceived) power struggle between administration and people "on the ground" doing development, deployment, etc. Announcements are made of decisions that people will have to implement, but those doing the implementation may not know of or agree with the decision.

How we'll avoid it

There is a flat hierarchy in the office - everyone's a leader and everyone's a worker. (There are only four of us, after all.) We've worked together before and know each other well - well enough to disagree with each other in public. Again, the "if it isn't publicly documented, it didn't happen" principle will help here.

The point we discussed most is meeting notes - transcripts of meetings should be made publicly available whenever possible. Note that there's a difference between making transcripts of meetings open to the public and making meetings open to the public; sometimes we'll just want to sit down and talk amongst ourselves for the sake of speed, but we need to tell other people what we said there afterwards, or we might as well not have met.

Also note that we need to get things done, and will occasionally get caught up in Doing Things and forget to document them in the heat of the moment. This is great, and means we're getting enthusiastically caught up in our work in a very good way. Still, something can't be counted as truly finished until others know about it.

No parfaits at 1cc

The problem we see

The office in Boston lacks yogurty, fruity goodness.

How we'll avoid it

Get fruit, yogurt, and crumbled cookies, granola, and/or graham crackers. Enjoy.

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