We’ve been talking to lots of members about the recommendations in the Holistic Review. As we’ve recommended that the big Council is there to set the strategy and not do the day to day work, some people have asked how will all the work get done in the new model? And others have pointed out that we’ve changed from an organisation where the work is done by volunteers, to a mass party with thousands of members and more than 40 staff.
Here’s how we think the work can get done in a better way.
At the moment, the work is done partly by staff, and partly by volunteers on GPEx and the other committees. We’ve spent a lot of time talking to our staff team, and they tell us that this is a very confusing situation – they don’t know who should be doing what and what the priorities are. That’s often what happens when you make the transition from mostly volunteers to staff managed by committees. It’s the experience of lots of voluntary organisations which have grown, and we can learn from their experience.
We’ve also heard from lots of members who told us that they’d volunteered their skills and experience, but hadn’t heard anything back. One organiser said they had members getting in touch every day to volunteer, but they didn’t know what to do with them.
We need to share out the work better
We’ve recommended that we use the snowflake model a lot more. This is being used by a lot of local parties very successfully to organise on a ward level. And it was used by the Obama campaign to get tens of thousands of people working very quickly and efficiently.
Imagine that you’ve put your name down to volunteer to help the party. And you’ve listed your skills, experience and what you’re interested in. One of the staff gets in touch with you on Monday and says can you help with our new campaign on domestic violence – we need 5 people to work on this 1 day a month for 3 months. And before you know it, you’re part of a team of 6, helping that staff member to run a campaign that gets thousands of people signed up to support our campaign. And then you have a break, and go back to leafletting in your street. But you’ve learnt new valuable skills and been part of a team of people across the country working on something that matters.
Or that you know tons about your specialist subject. You might be asked to work on developing the policy on woodland management because you know lots about the carbon cycle of trees.
Or maybe you’ve had lots of experience in canvassing – you might be asked to work with a team who are putting together a video guide to what to do when you get asked difficult questions on the doorstep.
Using the snowflake model means that staff can quickly bring together members to work on projects and we can get stuff done. Working in this way increases the effectiveness of our staff and uses the valuable time, skills and experience of our members in an organised constructive way.
And by having one person at the centre who coordinates activities, work gets done, but in a non-hierarchical way. We don’t need to have Chairs and Bosses; we can just get it done.
Wouldn’t you like to be part of this?
Task and Finish groups
We’ve also recommended that a lot of the work be done by Task and Finish groups, rather than the standing committees we have at the moment. Or the committees which will keep going for 100 years, as one member cheekily called them.
These groups will also be organised on the non-hierarchical snowflake principles, but will be coordinated by a Council member and will report to the Council. The other team members don’t have to be on the Council; they just have to be Green Party members. The whole point of the Task and Finish group is that they do the task and then finish it, at least for that stage. We’ve heard from a lot of activist members that we’re not good as a party at making a clear decision and then moving forward, so this is a way to improve that.
The first of these will be a Task and Finish group to dig deep into how to improve our Equal Opportunities and Diversity, which we know has lots of challenges.
We’ve heard that there’s a lot of work to be done to develop our policy and keep it up to date. And that some of the policy work needs specific input from people who have expertise in that area. There’s no use asking me about what should be in the woodland management policy, for example.
We’ve recommended that the policy development work should be done by Task and Finish groups reporting to the Council, to continue but expand on the work being done at the moment by the policy working groups. The only real change here is to join up the dots so that these groups report to Council as well as Conference, and to encourage more members to get involved in this vital work.
Training and knowledge sharing
One last note on sharing out the work.
Being part of the Holistic Review means that I’ve found out about some brilliant work which is being done around the country. Truly inspiring amazing stuff. But I wouldn’t have known about it if we hadn’t been talking to all these members about what they’re doing.
We need to be much better at sharing knowledge and skills between us, and not relying on our Field Organisers to do it for us. Although we’ve recommended that we employ more Field Organisers as members love what they’re doing.
We want to encourage people who are doing good things to share that with other members. Maybe mentor other party election agents on how to support more female candidates. Or record a video of a 16-year-old chairing a meeting to encourage other local parties to get young people chairing. So we’ve introduced the idea of Training Champions specifically to share advice, expertise and knowledge across the party.
Let us know what you think – and come and talk to us at conference