Ponderings about "chartered" vs "unchartered" work at the co-op

This is a policy proposal under development. Feedback and questions welcome.


Types of Work

Unchartered Work

Work that has not been approved for the co-op. A Worker may decide to track their hours for unchartered work, however unchartered work and independent projects will not increase one’s share of the Worker Dividend.

Chartered Work

Work that has been approved for the co-op. All descriptions of chartered work are maintained in the Handbook by the Worker Coordinator.

Both Members and non-Members can propose work for consideration to be chartered.

Hourly Projects

Time-tracked by the hour. Hourly Projects can only be chartered with the approval of the Executive.

  • Workers are invited to track their hours.
  • Worker-Members are encouraged to track their hours.
  • Staff (paid Workers) are required to track their hours.

All hours spent on Hourly Projects increase a Worker’s share of the Worker Dividend.

Bounty Projects

Hours for a Bounty are agreed in advance. Workers are invited to track the hours they spend on a Bounty, however the agreed-upon number of hours will not be adjusted after chartering.

To be chartered, a Bounty must have:

  • a clear description of the work
  • a definition of done
  • a concrete estimate of anticipated work hours
  • a deadline
  • a scheduled follow-up with the Executive or Worker Coordinator within a week of the deadline
  • approval by either the Executive, a majority of Worker-Members, or the Board of Directors

For the agreed-upon hours to be registered, the Executive and Worker Coordinator must agree that the Bounty has been completed as defined. The hours are then registered by the Worker Coordinator; these will increase the Worker’s share of the Worker Dividend.

If the contributor does not wish to participate in the Worker Dividend, their work will be labeled as a donation and the hours will not be registered.

Retro Project

If completed unchartered work has been found to have been of value to the co-op, anyone (including the contributor themself) may propose it to be retroactively chartered, with hours recognized toward increasing a share of the Worker Dividend.

A Retro Project can only be chartered by a majority of Worker-Members.

Current Hourly Projects

These chartered hourly projects align with the [Projects used on Clockify]. These are reviewed regularly by the Executive. The descriptions are maintained in the Handbook by the Worker Coordinator.

Examples:

Development

Coding, research, planning, art & design work for improving the platform, as defined in an Epic. Lead: Project Manager

Coordination

Moving information around. Moving people around. Helping people find things. Organizing meetings. Syncing with the co-op and catching up on news and posts. Includes Retrospectives. Lead: Worker Coordinator; Board advisor: Secretary

Services

Internal-facing information and assistance, focused on clarity and accuracy. Creating documentation, guides, and FAQs. Fulfilling requests from users in the inbox. Manages listener, artist, and label onboarding. Maintains the Forum. Board advisor: Secretary

Communications vs Outreach

Comms

Public-facing information and assistance, focused on presentation and connections. Social media work, press releases. Editorial work and writing. Content production. Draws upon Services’ documentation when answering FAQs. Board advisor: Chair; Lead: Editorial Director Oversight: Story

Story

Editorial direction. Music industry consulting and discussion, discernment and establishment of partnerships, branding inquiries, ambassadorial events. Label and disitributor relations. Lead: Story Coordinator

Accounting

Cost accounting, including paying our artists and contributors and taxes due; Revenue accounting, including all receipts, subscriptions and grants; Mutual accounting where we value and record mutual exchanges of all kinds; and Management accounting, where we track our effectiveness and efficiency. Board advisor: Treasurer.

Policy & Budgeting

Building proposals for ways we can improve collaboration, culture, or governance at the co-op, created either through writing or discussion. Board advisor: Secretary

Uploading

Manually uploading releases on behalf of artists or labels. This project will be disbanded when the Dashboard Epic is completed and artists and labels can self-upload music.

@Nick_M @richjensen I’d love your feedback on this – down to meet up and chat too

Chat 2021-08-09T16:00:00Z?

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An idea I’ve been experimenting with is if it would be helpful to make the following distinction between a Project and a Team:

A Project is a piece of open chartered work. A Project is open to any Worker to get involved with and doesn’t have defined contributors or membership.

A Team is a piece of closed chartered work. A team has defined contributors and a formalized process for how to get involved with that work and join the Team.

So sticking with the categories of chartered work defined in the Agreement above, you could theoretically encounter these categories of chartered work at Resonate, some however would be very rare since they would apply to very few situations.

  • Hourly Project
  • Hourly Team
  • Bounty Project
  • Bounty Team
  • Retro Project/Team (essentially the same due to having already ended)

A footnote that @sganesh has advised that such a distinction may end up being more confusing than it’s worth, which is well worth keeping in mind. The goal here is comprehensibility, both in the sense of comprehension and comprehensive – gotta strike a sweet spot.

This is fine - every project or team needs a ‘charter’ or terms of reference to set out purpose, accountabilities, means, measures, relationships and so on…

I think there needs to be a clearer distinction between projects that form, usually to develop or change something, and the business as usual structure, roles and accountabilities that belong to the ongoing functions of the operating model… things that have to be done to keep us in business.

So in the above…

Software Development and Developer Relations is a function.

‘Story’ (with Comms within it) also sounds like a good operating function that would normally have a lead and a team attached. External (music and co-operative) relations should probably be added in here too?

But…
‘Co-ordination’ sounds much less like a function and more like a set of skills / activities that everyone in a functional leadership role should be doing… neither a function, nor a clear project.

‘Services’ seems really broad and vague too. What services? For whom? Like ‘Operations’ - to make sense it needs to be broken down into more specifics, although it is good to have these reporting in to a reliable COO function to assure performance to agreed service levels. Areas might be: Catalog Operations (Incl Label and Distributor Ops, Rights Management), Membership Operations, Community Management, Artist and Listener Relationship Management.

Finance and Accounting (Cost, Revenue and Management Accounting, including cash flow forecasting), Governance, Statutory Reporting and Compliance.

Legal and Contracts, HR - including standards for work management and projects, agreements, terms and conditions is another.

The way you manage ‘business as usual’ functional work like this is typically LEAN where you really focus on the flow of work and value to the customer (stakeholders) and make continous small improvements. It’s great where folks are multi-skilled and work across several functions… never ‘pigeon-holed’. Provided there is only one accountable for each function and its ultimate performance.

Project work, is for bigger, non-incremental change, where we are clearly transforming or changing something from a (defined) as-is to a target state. Agile principles can be applied to most projects, not just software development.

And so on… we need to nail something that is tangible, a bit more familiar and reflects normal business practice in co-operatives, yet execute it in a way that is co-operative and democratic.

The key problem I’m looking to solve through the Chartering Agreement is:

How do we track and identify worker contributions so that workers can become worker-members and so that each worker-members’ contributions increase their share of the Worker Dividend?

I feel that all our organizational problems are orbiting around this one and that if we solve it many other things will start falling into place.

Your suggestions all seem like wise ones, but it isn’t clear to me how they solve this problem. Defining Functions and Projects in the sense you’re describing is essential, but I’m not sure from reading it what it suggests for how we’d track work contributions and worker dividends.

What I read here is that the org would define Functions (“service areas”) and appoint a leader of each who is accountable. Workers are encouraged to contribute to more than one Function and be cross-skilled.

Based upon your suggestions above, here’s the list of leads:

  • Software Development and Developer Relations Lead
  • Story and Music Relations Lead
  • Catalog Operations Lead
  • Membership Operations Lead
  • Community Management Lead
  • Artist and Listener Relationship Managment Lead
  • Finance and Accounting Lead
  • Goverance, Reporting and Compliance Lead
  • Legal and Contractual Lead

Lets say I’m a brand new work contributor invited to Resonate.

  1. How do I get involved in one of these Functions? I assume I would go to the Lead of each Function or get invited to their work channel.
  2. How do I start tracking contribution hours? Do I assign the hours to a particular Function (like with the clockify projects) or are my hours unlabeled? I feel that letting people track hours with no sort of label at all would be very confusing and lead to awkward situations and conflict.

Added “Label and dsitributor relations” to the description for Story.

True that Co-ordination may not be a Function in the sense you’re describing. What I hear you making a case for is that Co-ordination is a natural part of any Project and so it making it its own Project may be redundant. We could try disbanding it on Clockify and see what people would end up assigning their hours to.

I think your view here is accurate, but we should still have a way to track time spent by Workers who are “Moving information around. Moving people around. Helping people find things. Organizing meetings. Syncing with the co-op and catching up on news and posts. Includes Retrospectives.”

The Co-ordination project on clockify was primarily set up as a practical way to track time spent finding out what is going on at Resonate, catching up with co-op info, responding to other workers, setting up meetings, etc.

Same as in any professional appointments process … Onus is on the accountable lead to define the role and the candidate profile and publish this … HR person is coach/moderator for the process. Individuals then volunteer / apply and discuss / agree appointment.

The accountable lead proposes (within policy/standards) the appropriate reward for the defined role and that is moderated / agreed by HR for consistency and by the CEO / COO/ CFO for affordability. The reward may be output based (priced deliverable) or input based (hours recorded on clockify). But there should not be massive disparities between rates, as is often seen in corporate culture.

I don’t think that’s the distinction I would choose… I prefer to think the key difference between a project and functional team work is ‘making change’ Vs ‘business as usual’.

Both Project or Functional Team work could be either ‘open or closed’ chartered work… how people are asked to engage depends on the conversation between the functional leadership and the volunteer / team member… Some work is better suited to closed, tight teamwork. Other work can be done more independently in a less ‘joined up’ way.

Projects that change things in BAU / functions MUST obviously involve and engage those leads and workers as stakeholders in the change.

Please don’t take the above as criticism… it’s just a different perspective on it: For Resonate to succeed we need to define and prioritise both our key projects and our core functional work and allocate accountabilities/leads - all done through charters, and a big plan / roadmap and phased budget. Leads define the key work for and discuss together the budget split and the best way of resourcing it - volunteers? employee staff? contractors? Ideally that’s written up in a transparent and fair resourcing and reward policy. There should be something in that policy to indicate for which task and resource types time recording is to be applied, and where it is not. Volunteers should be rewarded fairly based on a realistic estimate of the work involved. When the work is done and approved they are credited with that work (in hours) in their ‘account’. Weekly timesheets might be a useful tool to help understand effort and improve estimating, but in my experience that involve a lot of work in operating / maintaining them… unless you are a consultancy business. It’s best to get all the structure and policies in place (projects, teams, work and the big plan)… a spreadsheet might do in the meantime.

I’d think the motivating thing for volunteers is the appreciation and human recognition by a ‘lead’ for good work done on a defined and important task. It’s vital that leads make the work visible, allocate it fairly and record those contributions.

(BTW There’s provision for a recording a contribution record for worker (collaborator) share transactions in custom tags in the user and membership API)

@Hakanto @Nick_M

We are prepping for a family trip this week and I should be picking up our car at this time.

Could we reschedule for tomorrow at the same time?

IE: 2021-08-10T16:00:00Z

My apologies for the confusion.

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No problem! Fine by me. N

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located here @brndnkng !
also for your interest: @melis_tailored @terry

Happy to join the discussion of this if I am needed.

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I have been doing something of a deep dive into our Xero ledger system and it occurs to me that there might be another way to do this formally using Xero. We can do better than a spreadsheet!

We could define worker membership as a ‘product’ in Xero and record it as ‘equity’ in the same way that we record listener (fan) and music-maker memberships. Each of these equity shares would have a vote attached to them. Any member would be able to see their share (and perhaps an attached Community Credential verifiable share certificate) when looking at their customer account screen.

Worker contributions, labour effort or ‘major achievements’, could be recorded as another type of product, this time as a co-op purchase transaction, recorded in the books with the worker as ‘supplier’ / creditor. The ‘supplier’ statement would then show each worker what the co-op had formally recorded for them in the co-op ledgers as recognition of their contribution. These entries would need to be approved (on trust, or with supporting information from a timesheet system if deemed necessary) and the accumulated credits used to inform dividend distribution, or allocation of weight in voting processes.

Just a thought.

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Thoughts:

@Hakanto Re: Draft. This is very good work. However, I feel the ‘unchartered work’ language raises implications and complexities that should take time to brew. Since they are not required to move forward with the chartered work provisions, I recommend moving ahead with those while setting ‘unchartered work’ considerations aside until ‘chartered’ work can be implemented and normalized.

@Nick_M Very interesting suggestion though I think we need an opinion from a qualified financial advisor as to how recording ‘equity’ in this way may contribute to a ‘tax event’ either for the co-op or Members.

In general, I feel the Co-op should keep business affairs as simple and informal as possible. Recording valuations of time-based ‘equity’ in this fashion (identified as equity and recorded as discrete value in our financial records – on the Balance Sheet?) may invite confusion.

Offered not as a ‘veto’ but as a ‘proceed with caution’ and ‘further research is needed’.

@richjensen I think it is normal accounting practice, reflected in our existing audited accounts, to treat our shares in this way as equity. Our chart of accounts has treated them this way from the outset, as far as I can see.

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The only difference I’m suggesting above is that we use the accounting ledger itself to hold the line detail rather than maintaining it in ugly spreadsheets and wordpress forms without adequate privacy and access controls on it.

I do not see that a ‘taxable event’ is a big concern here: we are a little way away from receiving a payment of interest and dividends and selling of co-op shares for a profit on a marketplace isn’t going to happen - we’re not for sale!

Here’s an example of a guide to recording and accounting for shares using Xero, including dividend payments.

The recording of the worker contributions is separate from this and should appear under operating expenses, probably under wages and salaries. Optionally this could be with a valuation, reflecting a liability to be paid at some future date. The other purpose of the record of contributions would be to inform ‘weight’ in governance and in dividend distribution.

Interesting new w3c project on timesheets: