[hackerspaces] Dealing with micromanagement of hackers

Enabrin Tain enabrintain at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 26 23:43:42 CET 2014

Hi Torrie,
A budget is the first priority of a Hackerspace, because your facility is your contribution to the community. If you can't keep the bills paid, then the other stuff gets way harder. We have committees for various topics of interest: Facilities Committee, Finance Committee, Gardening, Crafts and Sewing; that sort of thing. They are basically Communities of Interest, and they are the people who do the diligence and grunt work for the Hackerspace. We've done grants in the past where people put in bids for projects and the membership voted on them. Maybe he is thinking that doing something like that could be more constructive? One of the grant proposals that passed was an Event Purse to help fund events at the Space.

It's entirely possible that he's trying to help but feels like he doesn't have enough information to help effectively. If that's the case, it could be an opportunity to build your Finance COI.

Best wishes, 

 Phil Showers

My Projects


Message: 5
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2014 14:28:10 -0500
From: Edward L Platt <ed at elplatt.com>
To: Hackerspaces General Discussion List
    <discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org>
Subject: Re: [hackerspaces] Dealing with micromanagement of hackers
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It sounds like the member in question is doing the *opposite* of
micromanaging.  If you want to take members' opinions into account, some
level of bureaucracy is inevitable and the goal should be more effective,
rather than less (or more), bureaucracy.  Or, if you have strong central
leadership that gets to make decisions, that works to.  I can't tell which
model you're striving for.

Also, PSA: if you don't like meetings, committees are your friend!  You get
to say "hey everyone who cares about X, go hash it out in a focused session
and bring back a concise report for everyone."  Then if someone wants to
derail a general meeting with it, you can say "If you really care about
this issue, go join the committee."  Way more efficient than having
everyone sit through discussion about everything.


On Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 1:08 PM, Bert Hartmann <berthartm at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hey Torrie,
> I don't know anything about your space, so this is all pure speculation on
> my part, but if you don't have enough consensus to pass a budget, perhaps
> you do need to open up the discussion to more people until they're
> comfortable with the result? If you do have consensus, then it shouldn't be
> an issue, and just approve the budget and move forward.
> I know in New Jersey the law requires our non-profit to have an annual
> meeting with all the members about this time of year, where we
> traditionally pass a budget for the year, among other things. Perhaps a
> similar type of meeting for your group is healthy, so that no matter what
> process develops the budget (1 man and a spreadsheet or 20 people in 20
> meetings) there's a hard and fast deadline everyone's working towards so it
> doesn't get out of control and you end up with a workable result to present
> the rest of the group (who will presumably keep on hacking despite it).
> Incidentally, to answer your last question: I've seen the role of the
> board as handling all the bureaucratic stuff (rent, government filings,
> cleaning the bathroom, budget negotiations) so that the hacking may go on
> unimpeded for everyone else. Some of it's unavoidable, the trick is just to
> minimize the impact to the organization at large and the members in
> specific.
> my 2 cents,
> Bert
> On Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 11:08 AM, Torrie Fischer <tdfischer at hackerbots.net
> > wrote:
>> Hi, discuss@!
>> Lately at my hackerspace, we've had a member who is very interested in
>> micromanaging the space. I'm currently both treasurer and AWS sysadmin for
>> synhak.org, where I proposed a budget to use some grant money we received to
>> secure 3 year funding of our infrastructure.
>> Time and time again, this member in question wants to form a committee or
>> some equally stifling bureaucratic structure to analyze any change to the space
>> under the guise of "investigating all the options".
>> Micromanagement like this is totally against our culture, but it seems
>> that there are one or two others who go along with it because it "makes sense".
>> Whats the best way to kill bureaucratic micromanagement and protect the
>> hacker ethos at a space?
>> ____________________________________

Edward L. Platt
@elplatt <http://twitter.com/elplatt>
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