Tactics & Methods for generating direction

High quality proposals are most likely the result of more than one brain working on it, together; and having gone through multiple feedback and adaptation cycles. Here are some tactics to achieve this.

1. Create alignment through articulated goals and objectives

Having a clear purpose and shared goals are a powerful way to align a group towards collective action. If your funding round has no clear collective objective, participants will not know what types of proposals to make.

It is good to have goals and objectives. We define goals as: tangible, qualitative and implementable. We define objectives as 'North Stars' - or an agreed upon direction for the organization.

2. Design your process to incorporate an 'Ideas phase'

Nobody's proposal starts out perfect. Getting to high quality proposals requires multiple feedback cycles to refine and improve them. While encouraging participants to ask for feedback from their peers is great, it is even more effective if you design a feedback loop into your participatory proposal process.

Here are some things you can try:

  • Encourage people to share ideas even if they are half-baked. Maybe another person in the group has a similar one they can merge with, or has exactly the perspective needed to complete it!

  • Define a time frame during which new proposals need to be discussed before they are be opened up for funding. This conversation can take place directly on the proposal page, or any other place for online or offline sharing (see #4).

  • Organize a session with your group to give feedback on each others proposals and workshop them together.

  • The Ideas Phase in the Cobudget software can help you formalize this step.

    • When you create a new bucket, proposals first appear in that section.

    • In this step, it is not mandatory yet to add a budget to your proposal. This will give the proposer time to get input from others on how much funding is needed for the idea

2. Foster a 'proposal mindset'

Instilling a 'proposal mindset' in your group is important to turn conversations into action. Every time the group is talking about a subject, it is useful to ask questions such as: “Is this ripe for a proposal?”, or “Where does a potential proposal sit beneath the topic being discussed?”. Looking for the proposal in every conversation will help you make things concrete more quickly.

3. Create spaces for collective deliberation, strategic reflection and self-organization

Another key part of creating relevant proposals is offering your group ways to share context, self-organize around interest areas and deliberate together. If people can work in groups of three to generate proposal ideas, they will be much more successful than if everyone is trying to come up with their own ideas. Here are some things you can try:

Online Forum and group chat

Have channels for casual conversation, as well as channels for deeper conversations on proposals or other governance issues. The Ouishare community, for instance, uses Telegram for general conversations and Loomio for more complex topics, as overall strategy of projects.

Working Groups

These are a useful mechanism for helping small groups of people align to get work done. They are (often temporary) groups of people sharing knowledge and working on a topic for a certain period of time; which then dissolve when the work is completed. Examples of working groups could be communications, events or open source development working group.

A group call in action for discussing proposal ideas

Weekly calls

In addition to asychronous online communications, in-person meetings or group calls are very useful tools for giving participants rich context and information about your initiative. This is an important foundation for creating alignment and high quality proposals. This type of meeting may only be necessary for key milestones, such as a kick-off call or a live proposal pitch session where proposers can present their ideas. But if your round will last several months, we recommend having a weekly call which takes place at the same time every week for one hour. We recommend having a facilitator and a note-taker (rotating role), to store notes openly so that anyone can access them.

Tips of things to include in a weekly group call:

  • Ask new members of the group to introduce themselves in 30 seconds

  • Make sure time is made at the beginning of the call for crucial updates and notices

  • Reserve 5-10 min for “proposal accountability”updates, where people with passed proposals are asked to feed back on the state of their proposal

  • Use breakout rooms (a feature of Zoom) to work in smaller groups

Facilitation

If you are using meetings or online calls as a way to align and connect it is important to utilize facilitation. Facilitators can help the group achieve outcomes and co-create.

Tips for facilitating online meetings

  • Make sure you have a stable internet connection

  • Share the rules for "Online Call Hygiene" with participants:

    • Mute microphone when not speaking

    • Raise your hand if want to say something

    • Turn on your video

  • Remember to document what happens to share afterwards

    • Record the call

    • Ask for a note-taker

    • Have a template ready for note-taking

Read more about how the League of Intrapreneurs created engagement for their Cobudget round in this case study.