I believe that openness is virtue, a source of surprises and new horizons. I am always trying to answer and care for all the requests I am getting – regardless of the sender – in order not to give what I got when I was starting my projects: ignorance at best (one of the thing I believe needs to change in Europe), irony and disdain at worse.
Lift is also working along these lines. We listen to people. We have a survey that, good or bad, gets published online. We let the community manage more than 50% of the program. Our email address is everywhere on the site, and my phone number’s not too far either.
And then things grow bigger, and more is at stakes. A Lift speaking slot becomes a bigger deal. It is great exposure and value. You can get tenth of thousand of people watching your video. It’s a nice line on a resume. That is when things become harder. When you become unable to accommodate all feedback and suggestions.
With feedback, the problem is contradictory demands. In the post lift07 survey, we had half of the community asking for shorter breaks, the other half for longer breaks 😉 So I had to make the call, knowing I was making only half of my people happy (this sentence shows I’m a “glass half full” guy after all 😉
With suggestions it is even trickier as they are more personal, tied to someone who takes time to make a pitch and send it to us. Because the number of suggestions grew so much at a moment we were reducing the number of slots, being open meant that we were frustrating 99% of those who wanted to help us! “Sorry, your proposition is great but we have no open spot!”
And when openness means hurting the feelings of your closest supporter it becomes a problem. So I had to act, and just announced that we will not accept further suggestions for the program.
That comes from my belief that the only solution is to find more balance, and communicate more. For Lift the balance will come from the fact that the team will manage the official program alone (20 slots, 10 hours of presentations) when the community will manage the open part (36 slots, 50+ hours). For communication we will continue to be totally transparent about how the propositions and votes processes functions, and hopefully things will be a bit smoother from now!
Hugh nailing one of our times dilemma.