Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Search for a New Manager

I'm planning to start a new ecohousing venture in 2017 that will differ from Sage Garden Ecovillas in its vision and business model. When that venture starts, I'll move out of Sage Garden and turn over daily operation to a new on-site manager. There are many things I'll miss about living here: talking with the residents and neighbors, checking in on the trees and other plants, thinking about systemic suburban issues and solutions. But the time is coming for someone else to get the firsthand experience of managing this place, time for a fresh pair of eyes and fresh ideas, and time for me to start learning secondhand the lessons this place has to offer that I couldn't see firsthand – the forest for the trees, and all. In the meantime, I'm collecting logs of the kind of work I do here on a regular basis. This will help me find the right manager and define my expectations. Having a clear definition of expectations will not only help the new manager to succeed; it will also be an opportunity to put some cooperative agreement concepts into practice.


Below is a motive map outlining the “whys” I just mentioned for defining expectations. (For an explanation of motive maps, see the earlier post called “Meet the Motive Map,” although there are some interesting differences between this motive map and the ones I talked about in that post, which I promise I'll go into before I end this post, because I can't resist talking theory.)

The white nodes outlined in dashed lines above are imported from the latest motive map of all the ongoing programs and practices at Sage Garden Ecovillas (the whole map is shown later in this post). By the way, the “RBP” in the rightmost node stands for regenerative business practices. The blue nodes are objectives that apply specifically to preparing for a new manager, and the black nodes are high-level tasks, which I'll decompose into more detail later.

As I think about moving out of Sage Garden and look over the motive map above, I can think of some other things I want to do while I still live here and have the opportunity to learn from direct experience. So I'll add them into the motive map like so:


Now that the picture of the whats and the whys is starting to develop, let's make a schedule to show the whens. The schedule will include the high-level tasks (the black nodes) from the motive map, and while I'm at it, why not include the motives that are directly connected to them? Let's see what that looks like:

The rolled up task called “Motives” contains motives as milestones, and their (schedule) predecessors are the tasks motivated by them. Yes, it feels a little weird to include motives like this in a schedule, but then again, 1) seeing them alongside the more conventional schedule elements makes it easier to decompose those high-level tasks in a way that supports the motives, and 2) as new information emerges and the schedule changes over time, these embedded motives will serve as reminders of what is important and why. Here's an excerpt of the next draft of this schedule, where detail has been added, as guided by the motives.

This schedule isn't complete yet, but you can start to see how the motive map and the schedule work together as complementary planning artifacts. As I round out the schedule, I'll add details that have more to do with the new venture than with Sage Garden Ecovillas, but that's a blog for another time and place.


I said I would show the latest version of the complete motive map for Sage Garden Ecovillas for reference, so here it is:

The nodes in brown are values, those in green are objectives, and those in white are programs or practices.

You probably noticed some fundamental differences between the motive map of preparations for a new manager and the motive map of Sage Garden Ecovillas. Some of these differences are due to the nature of the operation being mapped. The preparation for a new manager is time-bounded, while the operation of Sage Garden Ecovillas is perpetual. That's why in the former motive map contains tasks (the black nodes) which are inherently terminating, while the latter map has programs and practices (the white nodes) which are non-terminating. That's also why some of the objectives in the former map (the blue nodes) are bounded, while all the objectives in the latter map (the green nodes) are unbounded. For example, consider the objective “Reduce Consumption.” No matter how much we reduce our consumption at Sage Garden, we'll never be done – we'll always have the objective of reducing it further.

Here's a summary comparison of the two kinds of motive maps pictured in this post.

Preparations for on-site manager motive map Sage Garden Ecovillas motive map
Time-bounded operation Perpetual operation
Associated with a schedule Not associated with a schedule
Nodes in map:
- imported nodes
- objectives (bounded and unbounded)
- tasks
Nodes in map:
- values
- objectives (unbounded)
- programs / practices


Do you have any critical comments or suggestions about anything you see here? Or any questions? If so, let me hear them by commenting below.

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