Important Discussion for all Members on Leadership

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Original Message

From: Carl Jackson, posted on 2014/02/16

Hello KM4Dev,

We are now moving to the third topic of the focused conversations related to shaping the future of KM4Dev.

Community leadership in KM4Dev happens thanks to a self-managing and participatory collective of volunteers known as the Core Group. The purpose of the KM4Dev Core Group is that members contribute their time and energy towards supporting the needs of KM4Dev members and developing the community (for more info see core group TORs).

A challenge for our community is to ensure that community members feel encouraged to volunteer as Core Group members, are enabled to play a useful and gratifying part in collective leadership, and can leave in a transparent and healthy manner for the best of the community and of themselves. In other words, a crucial challenge for KM4Dev is Core Group succession management.

Community members Jasmin Suministrado and Benedict Rimando have led one of the IFAD-funded KM4Dev Futures studies looking at this challenge and have identified that the processes and systems for succession management are quite random and not well institutionalized. Indeed the ideal picture is far from the current reality.

We would like to ask the community to read Jasmin and Benedict’s study on Ideas for improving Core Group succession management in KM4Dev which has very interesting components:

  • Why this matters (in this community of practice as in any other)
  • The ideal picture and the reality of succession management - from the perspectives of a) a community member and b) a Core Group member.
  • Some suggestions (as mind maps) for each of the steps in succession management: Awareness building, matching needs & opportunities, recruitment and application, initiation, integration and performance, withdrawal and renewal.

Based on your reading of the study, we would love you to reflect on your own experiences in KM4Dev and in other communities, and build up this conversation by sharing your ideas for improving succession in the KM4Dev core group. Possible topics include:

  • What is your experience of leadership succession in informal groups and community organisations (including KM4Dev) as a volunteer leader or regular member?
  • Where do you think are the most immediate succession needs? At what phase described in Jasmin/Benedict’s piece of work, or otherwise?
  • What early wins and long term approaches to Core Group suggestion management can get us to a healthier and more transparent, more effective Core Group and community as a whole?

Thank you to Jasmin and Benedict for this important piece of work. Lets hear from you now.

Warm wishes,

Carl Jackson & Ewen Le Borgne


All replies in full are available in the discussion page. Contributions received with thanks from:

Anna Maria Ponce
Bendict Rimando
Carl Jackson
Dan Boom
Ewen Le Borgne
Jaap Pels
Jasmin Suministrado
John Emeka Akude
Liz Clarke
Lucie Lamoureux
Martina Hetzel
Nancy White
Pete Cranston
Philipp Grunewald
Riff Fullan
Sarah Cummings
Valerie Brown

Related Discussions


Detailed Description

The discussion on Succession Management of the KM4Dev Core Group included points about:

Different options have been proposed for that succession management

A. On specific succession management issues

  • Question on the level of awareness by the wider community on the role and activities of the core group  Somewhat un-transparent (difficult to access) information about the Core Group and how members join and leave, though that information is available (to some extent?) and some peopleknow where to find it  suggestion to ask core group members to put ‘Core Group member’ beside their name
  • Question of composition – in terms of skills, needs, etc.  identify core competencies or roles in the core group and consider desirable diversity and identify roles for core group members  Important to have some balance in terms of geographic representation, gender balance, types of organisations present + ideally link with the KM4D Journal
  • Question of recruitment into the core group  Virtual elections along the lines of Ana maria's experience / during face-to-face events. But begs the question of processing these elections based on limited volunteering time
  • Question on orientation of new core group members  adopt a buddy system in inducting a new core group member for a few months
  • Question on sustaining inspiration for core group members  take small, personalised stepsto motivate and encourage autonomous local / networked actions that link to development
  • Question of ensuring succession at the withdrawal of a core group member  Perhaps good to make it either compulsory or strongly recommended for a departing core group member to identify a potential new C.G. member and to rope them in for a given period
  • Question of the need for term limits  no term limits, keep it an [Preserving the collective, open-ended and synergistic [ organisational mode] typical of KM4Dev open pool resource]  set some form of renewable term limits but on a staggered basis (not the same time) – Riff
  • Question on structure and openness of the Core group  How to balance structure and openness in an ideal Core Group look like, vis-a-vis its current composition
  • Question of a definite number of the core group members  revisit the discussion and find the optimal number (not too few, not too many)

B. On general core group issues

C. Issues involving the place and role of the core group and of the community members in the whole KM4Dev community

1. Stress on other forms of active engagement with the KM4Dev (outside of Core group)

  • Informal contributions as form of leadership. There are many examples of non-core group engagement - act as monthly online facilitator, synthesize a thread on the wiki, notice what is happening/link across NING and DGroups conversations, spot great resources and share them, organize a local or global meeting, write a longer piece for the Journal * Whatever role the CG and other roles for other types of members of the community, the issue of how the roles are performed sustainably is still a valid one
  • The question remains however: what does it take to invite anyone into this? What motivation? What process? What support? Perhaps self-facilitation, the will to act based on the diverse strength of the community. What is needed is energy, facilitation, ideas, insights and action, from all corners of the KM4Dev community

2. Funding issues - funding is needed for some important functions of the community

3. Advocacy with organisations for development

Examples in Application

One or a few practical examples and references that illustrate the topic or show how it is done in practice

Recommended Resources

Links to publications, websites, contacts and general resources shared in the e-discussion