A deal with the devil

So this is a long, highly insider game post on commune micro decision making and politics.   You have been warned.

So i am one of the hammocks business general managers, an august group called the RPM (for Ropes Products Management).  Shal, Hawina and Alex sit with me on this team.  We do a bunch of things, many micro-managing (which we are striving to get out of) and some far reaching.

One of the high impact things we do is we set weekly production goals (during the cooler months) and when the community fails to make these goals our labor obligation for everyone in the community increases [AKA quota goes up].  So this year, after a long run of making our goals, we got swatted by the double whammy of New Years party and a ring shortage.  Goals were eliminated for two weeks and then we were out of practice and we started missing goals when they came back on again.  We missed goals two weeks in a row and quota went up to 44.8 hours a week (from a normal of 42) and the number of hammocks needed to get quota back down went up also (since we have to clear the amount we missed the goal by).

Willow, Trout (the person) and Bass (the fish) - not making hammocks

Trout comes to the rescue.  

Trout was bothered by the fact that our hammocks production week was not the same as our labor week.  For reasons that are perhaps lost in history, our labor week runs from Friday to Thursday.  Our hammocks production week ran from Thursday to Wednesday.  We did this because the RPM at the time all had a Thursday evening obligation of the transparency group Not Forum.  A key part of hammocks week production is “push night”.  Push Night is the last night of production before we make (or fail to make) our goals.  It did not make sense to the RPM to have final push night be on a night when none of the people most invested in the success of the business are unavailable to participate.  it is not uncommon for us to have double normal production on the last day of the week, generally weighted heavily towards the night time hours.

Trout argued, convincingly on the O&I board, that the commune does not really do any significant work until after the weekend on reducing the hammocks goal and if we need to be complete by Wednesday then we only have 3 days to make the goal.  This is, of course, nonsense.  We have all types of complex scheduling here and we are able to get all manner of things done on all types of crazy schedules, but hammocks is especially problematic because almost none of the work is scheduled and it is all done with volunteers.

But there were lots of people who were excited about Trouts idea, and after initially repulsing it, the RPM agreed to let us try this Thursday night push night experiment for three weeks.  At the time we agreed to this, we needed to make 77 hammocks in 2 days to make our goal for the week and clear the back log of hammocks from the previous two weeks where we feel behind.

Wednesday night (the old push night) we got to our weekly goal of 165 hammocks, which insured that quota would not go up further.  Today (Thursday), Trout pulled out all the stops had live music and entertainment in the hammock shop (while most of the RPM was next door doing Not Forum) and all 38 hammocks needed to reverse our slippage were completed and quota will drop back to 42 hours/week.

What is important here is several things: 1) This Walden II community which ditch behaviorism 40 years ago still uses it.  2) Sometimes we (mgmt) can respond quickly 3) And sometimes it works.

Dont wait til your deathbed

This evening we are popping champagne (and sparkling cider) and toasting the devil in our midst, Mr Trout.