Coaching Trainer & Personal Strategist @ Tee Barnett Coaching Training (TBCT)
684 karmaJoined Oct 2015Working (6-15 years)


Personal Strategist & Coaching Trainer

More on how the coaching training & matchmaking went
More on my coaching trials with a dozen EA leaders

Reach out @ teebarnett.com

I'm a co-founder and current board director of Rethink Charity (RC), a project collective that launched and/or incubated several EA community building projects, including Rethink Priorities, RC Forward, the EA Hub, the EA Survey, EA Giving Tuesday, and fiscal sponsorship for numerous startup EA-aligned projects.

RC Projects that have since closed down include Students for High-Impact Charity, the Local Effective Altruism Network and Rethink Grants.


EA Forum note: I've cleared with the Forum team that I can offer free 20-minute calls as a 'thank you' for the first 10 people that leave thoughtful and engaging private or public comments. These short calls can be mini-sessions, coaching AMA, a catchup, or used any other way you'd like! 

Thanks to Seb and others for putting in the effort to get clarity in this area for the community. 

Very briefly before I circle back for a more substantive round of commenting – noting that I haven't dug into all of the studies that these quantitative estimates are predicated upon, I wasn't able to find mention of staff "turnover / churn " or anything of the sort in this report. 

If it's the case that estimates within this report, and/or quantitative estimates within studies that this report draws from, do not include an approximation of costs from staff turnover / churn, I'd be very surprised if they didn't have at least a noticeable effect on estimates like those found in this report. 

I'd imagine HR professionals would care a lot about costs associated with turnover / churn. Anyone who has needed to replace someone understands firsthand how much of a heavy lift that can be, including the shared bandwidth burden of needing to cover duties that trickle onto everyone else. (This often strains multiple people)

My eye test from coaching EAs struggling with various aspects of their job is that a nontrivial proportion of them are often considering leaving entirely. And in fact, some number of former clients of mine have left organizations after protracted periods of comparatively low productivity and comparatively low overall wellness. 

To spell out the implications of what I'm saying a bit more, should staff turnover have any kind of meaningful effect on organizational costs, the value of implementing various staff wellness interventions should go up if it improves retention 

Seb had a preference for me to include as a comment here. Curious for thoughts!

Just applied for TBCT! Incredibly happy to see this get set up. What a gift for this community it could be

My pleasure and thanks for saying that. Happy to add more popular questions to that section as they come

Can confirm that Luke was a huge proponent of this from our interactions from ~2016 – ~2019. It's one of the primary reasons Rethink Charity created and maintained our governance structure, which I thought was only moderately good but likely above average relative to what I've seen and heard about in the community


I've got a similar feeling to Khorton. Happy to have been pre-empted there. 

It could be helpful to consider what it is that legibility in the grant application process (for which post-application feedback is only one sort) is meant to achieve. Depending on the grant maker's aims, this can non-exhaustively include developing and nurturing talent, helping future applicants self-select, orienting projects on whether they are doing a good job, being a beacon and marketing instrument, clarifying and staking out an epistemic position, serving an orientation function for the community etc.

And depending on the basket of things the grant maker is trying to achieve, different pieces of legibility affect 'efficiency' in the process. For example, case studies and transparent reasoning about accepted and rejected projects, published evaluations, criteria for projects to consider before applying, hazard disclaimers, risk profile declarations, published work on the grant makers theory of change, etc. can give grant makers 'published' content to invoke during the post-application process that allows for the scaling of feedback. (e.g. our website states that we don't invest in projects that rapidly accelerate 'x'). There are other forms of pro-active communication and stratifying applicant journeys that would make things even more efficient. 

FTX did what they did, and there is definitely a strong case for why they did it that way. In moving forward , I'd be curious to see if they acknowledge and make adjustments in light of the fact that different forms and degrees of legibility can affect the community. 


 why it’s at least a non-obvious decision

Will we provide feedback to rejected applicants in the future? Possibly, but I think this involves complex tradeoffs and isn't a no-brainer

 So I don’t think we should be doing this now, but I’m not saying that we won’t try to find ways to give more feedback in the future (see below).

Very much appreciate the considerate engagement with this. Wanted to flag that my primary response to your initial comment can be found here

All this makes a lot of sense to me. I suspect some people got value out of the presentation of this reasoning. My goal here was to bring this set of consideration to yours and Sam's attention and upvote its importance, hopefully it's factored into what is definitely non-obvious and complex to decide moving forward. Great to see how thoughtful you all have been and thanks again! 

Okay, upon review, that was a little bit too much of a rhetorical flourish at the end. Basically, I think there's something seriously important to consider here about how process can negatively affect community health and alignment, which I believe to be important for this community in achieving the plurality of ambitious goals we're shooting for. I believe FTX could definitely affect in a very positive way if they wanted to


an opportunity cost to providing feedback

huge mistake for Future Fund to provide substantial feedback except in rare cases.


Yep, I'd imagine what makes sense is between 'highly involved and coordinated attempt to provide feedback at scale' and 'zero'. I think it's tempting to look away from how harmful 'zero' can be at scale

> That could change in future if their other streams of successful applicants dry up and improving the projects of people who were previously rejected becomes the best way to find new things they want to fund.

Agreed – this seems like a way to pick up easy wins and should be a good go-to for grant makers to circle back. However, banking on this as handling the concerns that were raised doesn't account for all the things that come with unqualified rejection and people deciding to do other things, leave EA, incur critical stakeholder instability etc. as a result. 

In other words, for the consequentialist-driven among us, I don't think that community health is a nice-to-have if we're serious about having a community of highly effective people working urgently on hard/complex things

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