Quite frankly: no hierarchy is a bad idea. Minimal, flat, and respectful leadership with as much power devolved/delegated as possible is great...but there's always going to be people with less decision making authority than others. Not everyone is going to have signing authority at the bank, and most other organizations are going to want some form of continuity with regard to point of contact.

Being on the board of a successful organization is a point of some pride, but likewise, being on the board of a sinking ship is stressful and nerve wracking, especially when creditors come calling. If you intend to operate as a cash business, you're going to need a leadership that can make decisions on when to save and when to spend. If you intend to take on debt, such as a mortgage or lease might entail, you're going to need to own your decisions for good or bad, and expect praise when you lead with clarity, and expect a lawsuit when you slack. You will not have any choice in the matter: all organizations have good and bad days.

Honestly, Sudo Room seems to live hand to mouth every month because you do not have a leadership willing to make tough decisions to save a buffer, so that your landlord has less power over you. You had a plan to save but have not executed on it. You are indebted, whether you acknowledge it or not, to your (hopefully benevolent) dictators, like your Lord George, who because they hold the power of debt above you, disempower you. What you need is a renewed commitment to a savings plan, to live not at the lordship of the weather but to be free through the insurance policy of a positive cash flow. Perhaps this means developing relationships with a diverse set of sources of wealth: both talent that adds value as well as grant giving people and organizations.

You cannot de emphasize your board if you expect to be taken seriously by other organizations, unless you only ever want to deal with organizations that have similar ad hoc leadership. Honestly, I don't believe that Noisebridge operates without the benefaction of invisible leaders who actually lever great power. I think that there is the visible process, and an invisible one, and you would be well served to make the invisible visible. I value honesty and radical transparency, and I think you should, too.

What will happen if you are not cautious at this step is that everyone will want to lead when things are good, and no one will want to lead when fields are fallow. But the only time you ever really need a leader is when times are tough, and the path is not clear. In those times, your leader will have a quiet, wise voice, and you will need to have a board that is listening, not speaking, if you hope to recover. Listening to that quiet voice.

I am strongly opposed to any proposal that involves enforced (or even "recommended") silence. What your leaders need to do is not toot their own horn, but advocate for those who do in the do ocracy, whether they be board members or not. The board is the voice of those who do not have the strength or courage to speak for themselves. The board needs to listen, not speak, and learn who to hand the megaphone to. Such a board may seem invisible, indistinguishable from and much like your "no hierarchy" board, but it is a very different thing. 

A board must not speak for themselves, but be the voice of consensus. What I have seen is a very strange form of popularity contest, which is why I have chosen to withdraw my energy from this group over the last few months. When you resume your commitments to transparency and saving, I will give more strongly. But this "we're nearing zero balance" bullshit must end, and you need to elect leaders who will deliver that end, soon, because that is your path to freedom. Demand a plan for that, or withhold your vote.

Your board may seem immaterial because success will be driven by your members, but if you are wise, you will elect people who *can* lead without power, drive without steering, promote without ego, and choose without deciding. That should be the board you elect: and you *should* give them all the power, because they will behave with your values and for you.

Think about this: who listens for the sense of the group, then works actively, builds consensus toward that? Elect them. Who demonstrates your values? 

Matt H.

On Sunday, October 27, 2013, Jenny Ryan wrote:
On Sat, Oct 26, 2013 at 8:43 PM, Eddan Katz <eddan@clear.net> wrote:
just wondering how you're thinking about resumes that are available online or on a personal blog as different from LinkedIn, etc.. sincerely not sure what you mean by this paragraph below.

sent from eddan.com

> On Oct 26, 2013, at 8:12 PM, Jenny Ryan <tunabananas@gmail.com> wrote:
> I also think it's important we de-emphasize the Board as much as possible - and in that vein would like to propose that anyone elected to the board not list their "position" on LinkedIn, Facebook etc to avoid the public image of having a hierarchical structure. However, it is indeed a position of responsibility that reflects commitment to the group and, as such, folks elected should be allowed to list it on job applications and resumes if so desired. In a similar vein, anyone on the compact should very much consider themselves a co-founder!


Replying to you, Eddan, as well as the list, in case anyone else was confused by this proposal. I was just thinking about the public perception of hierarchy and ways to minimize that. My distinguishing between LinkedIn and job applications was to distinguish between publicly- and privately-communicated content - so an online [public] blog, resume, etc would fall in the same category as LinkedIn for all intents and purposes.

Just a suggestion, happy to discuss!