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What are some neglected practices that EA community builders can use to give feedback on each other's events, projects, and efforts?

by ColinBested1 min read8th May 20193 comments



In a chat about forecasting important values/proxy measures for EA groups (e.g. dollars of CEA grant funding, number of projects taken on by contributing members), Justin Otto came up with a question/suggestion that I found interesting, provocative, and potentially useful.

Could an EA group tape or otherwise record one of their meetups or other regular EA community building activities and then send it to other aspiring EAs who could give feedback?

(This was inspired by some martial arts dojos which apparently, when they are just getting started or trying to improve, record their lessons and then get feedback on the lessons from other established instructors.)

Perhaps one-on-ones will still be way better for giving this sort of feedback.

Perhaps there is potential in other methods for finding feedback such as recording and sharing past events, effort, and reports with other aspiring EAs.

Have groups done this in the past?

Any suggestions for new partnerships? (in integrations to other community building efforts, e.g. community builders newsletter, FB group, Hub, ???)

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3 Answers

This is an interesting idea!

It sounds like this kind of feedback might be harder to give than feedback on a visual/physical activity like martial arts, but some new groups would probably still benefit.

Even if a group's members aren't all open to having a session recorded, it can be valuable to put together "postmortem" writeups on events. Some of my favorite writing about EA groups is on-the-ground reporting from leaders who wanted to improve (e.g. EA Berkeley's retrospectives, EA Yale's fellowship writeup).

Postmortem writeups don't need to be anywhere this detailed, of course; even comments on the level of "someone talked a lot and kept going off-topic, and we couldn't figure out how to handle it gracefully" give groups the opportunity to receive a lot of advice.

I also find the idea of recording meetings interesting. I’d worry about this not working out because of bandwidth limitations – asking an overseas organiser to watch on passively for an hour and then collect their thoughts on what happened seems to ask more of them than to interact with, query, and coach in the moment.

I wonder if there are any ways to circumvent that bottleneck. Perhaps calling in the person through Zoom and letting them respond at some scheduled moment helps somewhat? Any other ideas?

Another way for giving feedback might be to give people access to your task planning. I just emailed Asana about whether they’d be willing to offer a free Business/Enterprise team for people to run projects on.

Text: “We would like to pilot one Asana Business team for community start-ups to collaborate on tasks, link with coaches and advisors, collect feedback from the groups we service, and to be more transparent to charity seed funders.”

Hi Colin,

I think the idea of recording is interesting and could be valuable but I do think some groups may be uncomfortable having their meet-ups recorded. Another idea might be to invite a member from another group to join in over skype and share feedback after. I think, though, this would only work for an activity like a discussion group rather than social events. The downside to this as compared to a recording is that the meeting cannot be re-reviewed by multiple people in the same way. The upside, though, is that this might be an interesting way to bring in a new perspective to a discussion and introduce your group to the broader EA community.

Similar to Aaron I am a huge fan of writing up "lessons learned" right after events. I have found these to be really helpful for both reflecting on the event yourself and discussing the event with others. The lessons learned do not have to have solutions but rather can be a list of things that went well and things that did not. Then you can compare with others and hopefully converge on a list of best practices.

I agree, though, that it would be nice to have a designated place where groups can share these notes as it can often be intimidating posting on the forum. Possibly the Facebook group could be good for this?