Help! I’m stuck on redesigning our circle structure

So I’m trying to redesign our circle governance structure and have made very little progress after some hours of brainstorming, rearranging, etc. any tips on things I can do to get unstuck?

Specific things I’m struggling with

  • As founder and only full-time person in my all-volunteer organization, I do a lot that will need to break out into roles, but I don’t know when a role makes sense and where that role should live + how future role holders will collaborate when the functions no longer reside in the same person.
  • How do you organize the relationships between fundraising, finance, memberships, partnerships, community events, communications, and technology infrastructure to manage all of that (contact relationship manager, accounting software, external comms platforms like Instagram and Mailchimp, online forum, ticketing, website)?
  • How do you figure out when circles need to be sub-circles of one another or where some collaborations just need a space for knowledge transfer but their domains aren’t subsets of one another?

First of all, it doesn’t have to be perfect because it will change anyway. It’s much easier to align things with operations than to think it up theoretically. Are those operations actually done yet?
The ED/founder is often basically the catch-all that holds an amorphous “primordial” domain - the pieces that get taken out of it are typically more clear-cut. Like placing the first puzzle pieces of a jigsaw puzzles are hard to place but as things click into place, it gets clearer and easier over time.

And yes, just because there’s knowledge transfer doesn’t mean there’s a sub-circle or sibling-circle relationships.
Second, have you looked at Help Desks as a concept? Might be too complex for YPC at the moment, I’m not sure.

I don’t actually understand your second bullet point.

I think this depends a lot on a case by case basis, and the evolution.
I start first with trainable roles - the most straightforward roles which someone can simply be trained on. Start handing those off as soon as possible! Also volunteer roles which are easily given to people to get them involved.

Operational Relationships:
The circle structure follows policy domains, not necessarily operational domains. Even then, it’s somewhat arbitrary because everything is interconnected anyways… but the structure helps our brains handle it. What structure helps people’s brains handle it?

The operations are going to be all interconnected anyhow either way.

I’m excited about SoFA’s Help Desk idea (which Ted mentioned, and is used by other distributed orgs in various ways), and also SoFA’s co-working times :slight_smile: I have frequent operational meetings with smaller subgroups to manage tasks and do training and the like as well. They are cross circle and cross domain.

When to be a circle?
It’s a circle when it holds policy domain.
If it’s a sub-group making a decision or doing a little work on behalf of a circle’ policy development temporarily it may be a helping circle.
If it’s just getting some work done, then it’s just a collaborative operational meeting.

You might find SoFA’s Circle Structure course useful for people in your organization. We are in the midst of switching to a new platform - do a favor and try giving it a signup!

We may be adding the group functionality to that one soon, but right now it’s just a one person course (that multiple people can do).

Thank you for the reminder.

I LOVE the help desk concept and yes, it’s applicable to us. For example, we’re currently designing how to manage our social media accounts but instead of having a circle responsible for creating all content, we’d want a role or circle creating the structures necessary to help other circles create their own content.

@cj.oreilly and @TedRau, are you two saying the same thing, or different things?

Tell me more about this!

This is a list of the functions that I was trying to organize in a way that made sense, so don’t worry about it! :slightly_smiling_face: