Global Gathering 2020 - Day 7 - Global Governance - A global legal structure

Google Doc
Miro board for operationalizing values
Table re: legal structures

What is the purpose of this session?

  1. Operationalizing Values (Jen)

Discuss how OFN might operationalize our values at a global level. Discuss whether we want to mutualize development of policies, procedures, legal resources we need at an instance-level - e.g. HR docs designed for OFN’s unique way of working. What would mutualizing look like?

  1. Legal structure (Nick)

Discuss whether we need a legal structure for OFN globally to deal with global issues like trademarking, fundraising, etc.

What outcomes/deliverables do we want?

Who is facilitating? Jen and Nick

Who is scribing? Gen


Part 1: Operationalizing Values

  • We addressed the Recruiting, Onboarding and Growth columns of Jen’s Miro board.
  • See below and Miro board for details

Part 2: Legal Structure

  • We discussed whether a global legal entity is necessary / beneficial for global fundraising. Emphasized that such an entity would not control the OFN instances
  • Discussed whether a global legal entity is necessary for establishing trademarks. Seems like it would not be beneficial since trademarks are dealt with at national / international treaty levels

We also briefly discussed the fact that OFN conversations have slowly moved away from Discourse towards Slack, that this is not intentional, and that we do want to keep these conversations transparent and accessible on Discourse


Operationalizing Values:

  • Keep filling in the blanks of the Miro board
  • Start sharing documents/ processes as instances develop them - new folder in Global Google Drive
  • Those interested can join the Operationalizing Our Values Slack channel
  • Try to find someone with understanding of legal requirements for our “HR” circle

Global Legal Structure:

  • Interview question for global fundraiser - what is their view on the benefit for fundraising of a global entity?
  • Lynne has asked Judith at Urgenci to come speak to us about their global structure

Detailed notes:

Part 1: Operationalizing Values

  • Jen introduces the idea behind her Miro board for this session

  • We spend 10 mins filling it in with our first thoughts

  • Recruiting:

    • Laurie and Myriam discuss the difficulty of opening up recruitment for OFN positions
    • Myriam speaks about trying to recruit beyond OFF’s personal networks, frustration of having to explain the OFN way of working, but also fear of selecting only people who are like us
    • e.g. Laurie fielded 300 applications for a position and only interviewed 5 people as most were technically qualified but really not aligned with OFN
    • Lynne - we’ve started recruiting people who aren’t already volunteers for OFN, bringing in new skills and backgrounds, helping these people feel their way into the OFN sphere
    • Lynne - “I have another example from another organisation I’m involved with… In recruiting people are rewriting their job descriptions so that they can develop their ‘careers’ and the missing gaps can be recruited for”
  • Jen - best use of time might be to talk through the gnarlier aspects of these processes

  • Onboarding

    • Myriam - difficulty of onboarding in a remote-work context
    • Kirsten - difficulty for new people to know how much they should/can engage at the global level, uncertainty of how much asking questions in different groups in Slack is appropriate.
    • Theresa - “Concur also - how ‘deep’ to get into global - questions around permission to do so, time to do so, do they have the experience to do so”
    • Nick - UK team 5-point check in each day. UK team dynamic tends to slide towards Nick and Lynne being the leaders, consciously trying to distribute authority - e.g. talking more about taking time off, things we don’t know/understand
    • Jen - talks about how this is an organization that operates largely through relationships between fallible humans. e.g. explaining to new members what it’s like to work with Kirsten - potential for having little “this is what it’s like to work with me” videos where everyone shares their strengths, foibles, triggers, etc.
    • Laurie - “a process to get feedback from team members about how we are hard to work with would be valuable(or what makes us awesome to work with)”
  • Growth:

    • Lynne - potential for anonymous feedback on individual team members, with meeting focused on positives and individuals’ own desired improvements
    • Theresa - “do people know the “appreciative inquiry” process. I’ve been part of a number of organizations that used it over the years. It might be a process worth looking into - just a set of tools that are not framed around ‘assessment’ per se.”
  • Nick suggests maybe using global funding for a HR professional - suggesting practices/procedures that fit what we’re looking for, not reinventing the wheel

    • Myriam unsure that we’re close enough to mainstream ways of doing HR for this to work - take inspiration, but also invent our own system
    • Nick - perhaps we just need someone with understanding of the legal requirements in our “HR” circle

Part 2: Legal Structure

  • Fundraising:
    • Myriam - important that we stay a federation, a network of independent entities. Question is if there’s an advantage to having another independent structure - a vehicle for specific functions (fundraising, trademarking), not a decision-making body in its own right
    • Lionel has emphasized the benefits of having a fundraising vehicle. But not clear that this global foundation project is advancing…
    • Myriam suggests maybe we need to book an hour to talk with a tax expert to see if it’s really an advantage
    • All talk about importance that new global fundraiser has some understanding of this
    • Rachel: “When I worked on the EU grant. It was clear that we should be able to “show” the link between our instances with membership / shareholding etc. Just another example of a case where a legal structure could have been useful. That being said I’m a bit worried about the timing. We have 2 legal structures in France and it’s already crazy to run them with our small team. Do we have enough people as of today to create a separate vehicle?”
    • Laurie: “seems like the structure should be driven by what we need to get done that requires a multinational. recognized/registered organization - in the US we are under an “umbrella” organization (fiscal sponsor) that exists only to provide an entity and registration for us”
  • Trademarks:
    • No international law on this, all dealt with through international treaties, so better managed at national instance level? [Correction from @Thomas: there is, the BOIC. I mention it’s role in the trademark post]
    • Theresa: “further to this - I know the Madrid Protocol is a robust protocol in that you can get trademark protection across many countries, with one payment in one currency. So - that might be worth looking at.”
    • Laurie: trademark conversation with a lawyer
  • Guide linked by Serenity:

Slack vs Discourse discussion

  • Myriam suggests that instance-level policy updates can be shared on running Discourse posts
  • Theresa highlights that perhaps “in general we have moved to slack (a more limited discussion space) than the community forum. General question - is that what we want to happen?”
  • Jen: “I agree Theresa - I’ve made the comment a number of times over the last year that I think we’re using community forum less and I think it’s partly because Myriam is so good at nudging us towards the forum, and Myriam hasn’t been around!”
  • Theresa: “Interesting to ask ourselves ‘why’ have we overtaken slack? are we afraid of talking so much in ‘public’, is it easier? is it faster (but we trade off input) ……?”
  • Myriam: democracy requires transparency, Slack is not so transparent
  • Theresa: Why have we moved more to Slack? We should be deliberate about what we’re doing
  • Lynne: we tend to write up nascent ideas on Slack, Myriam used to nudge substantive conversations that would develop out of these over to Discourse, now she’s not around so much we’re forgetting to do this
  • “What Would Myriam Do?” bracelets suggested as a solution :slight_smile:
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Hopefully @MyriamBoure would do something like this wrt trademark conversations:

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there is, the BOIC. I mention it’s role in the trademark post

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fyi just so we don’t talk at cross purposes - BOIC is a bilateral agreement on trademarks… (not an international law per se) But this is a moot point. The point is that 1. for sure we want to go down the multi-country registration path with BOIC and 2. For sure we need registration in one country first and 3. Starting in the US makes sense.

So - we need some money to engage an international trademark lawyer to start this. @lauriewayne1 - maybe we can talk about this as a use for the global pot money that OFN-CAN has set aside to support the US?

We also need to separate the brand from the code for future whitelabellers to avoid this same problem. But that is a different to do list.