CISV in Circles.

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Suggesting a flat instead of a pyramidal approach to committee work.

Every bigger chapter usually has a village committee, that takes care of organizing kids into delegations that are sent away and preparing and running a village in the chapter itself. In a bigger NA, there usually exists a national village committee, that runs evaluations, distributes invitations among the chapters and such. Finally, there is an international village committee (IVC) that sets up the football pool (which NA is invited to which camp) and develops the programme further.

With all this talk at this years AIM of supporting chapters, and the new communication approach of the NOTA, which circumvented middle structures (much like the IPP Newsletter), I wonder if there is a different approach than the pyramidal one described above.

Say, every member of a chapter village committee automatically becomes a member of the "Village Circle" (I shamelessly stole the term from Google+) These circles would obviously have tons of members, and there would be the need of moderation. The prototype of such communication would be the "Wall" of a facebook page: The administrators post important updates, but everybody else can post, comment and contribute at will.

Wouldn't it make sense, if anybody recruited for "the village job" in a chapter would immediately become part of a such bigger, international structure? These "Circles", you could also call them "networks", would then communicate using e-mail lists, or a facebook group, whatever communication structure suits them best. There could be monthly online get-togethers, even online training, furthermore exchange of best-practise, discussions on programme development. In a way, this would be the "spider" in the "starfish vs. spider" discussion we had a while ago.

Besides the "Village Circle" there would be Circles for all other programmes as well. Moreover, we could have a "Fundraising circle", a "Profile Raising Circle", maybe even a "CISV Shirts Circle", that shares designs, and gets shirts printed collectively at a cheap location.

It would be much easier for motivated people to get involved in the international meetings through a structure like this, and with an open communication culture, the darn old feeling of having new things imposed upon all the time - common to many a chapter volunteer - may actually go away. Also, the other way around, experiences made in villages somewhere in the CISV world could be communicated in a horizontal manner, instead of trickling all the way up to the head of the pyramid, and then all the way down again.

World Vision, a Christian NGO, has indeed implemented this way of organization and calls the "Circles" Communities of Practise (CoPs):

To devolve ownership of these goals across the networks, the organization focused on strengthening communities of practice (CoPs), virtual gatherings of far-flung World Vision experts in areas such as education, health, agriculture, and water, whose shared experiences could drive institutional learning and change. As of March 2011, World Vision had 23 CoPs with a combined membership of more than 10,000, all using a SharePoint Platform nested within the organization's global intranet. Each CoP is staffed with a senior leader, who listens to needs across fields and sets a responsive knowledge-sharing agenda, abetted by a dedicated administrator who manages and stimulates ongoing collaboration and discussion around key issues.

CoP members engage in different ways and groupings: Some plug in to listen and learn; others actively develop, review, and collaborate on global documents, including strategies and standards for their respective areas. Ongoing discussions take place around best practices, advice and support for applying them, and research proposals to find better answers. The CoP itself is the one place where members and broader management can find all the knowledge assets for a given sector, analyze them, and use them to manage change. Most CoPs also have regular WebEx meetings, where members can discuss issues in depth, as well as an annual meeting where a subset of members come face-to-face to share and strategize.


Something for CISV to try as well? Which committee wants to go first?

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Hi Nick,

Not sure if this would replace the need for having a pyramid - unless we simply ditch the NAs and say that all chapters connect directly to internationa - but for information sharing and collaboration I think it would be worthwhile.


I guess it has a few caveats: Distributiung work that needs to be done in a large group may be difficult, it's more or less what happened to the JB team.

Replacing the pyramid would probably be one step to far (although I think it could e tried and would probably go very far), but I guess it would be reasonable to have it as an alternative structure, that could take over some tasks in the long run

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This page contains a single entry by Nick published on August 16, 2011 5:55 PM.

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