Interest Groups

An Interest Group deals with topics that are mostly cross-team and may overlap with other Domains, such as documentation standards, specific technologies, handling a pandemic, organizational development, etc.

Interest Groups are usually made up of volunteer members and can, but don’t have to have a fixed leadership. Anyone can start an Interest Group and start finding members, sometimes Delegate Circles or the Management create Interest Groups to handle a specific, important topic.

Unlike Delegate Circles, not every team has to send a delegate to each Interest Group. When Interest Groups need governance decisions that affect others who aren’t represented in the group, they have to involve everyone affect anyway, usually via Delegate Circles or company-wide Decision Making.

The list of the current Interest Groups is in the wiki, where they have their own space. They have their own task lists and meeting schedule and notes, etc. Feel free to join one or more of them if you feel like you could contribute to the discussions.

The following are fixed Interest Groups that currently exist in our company

Name

Members

Accountable for

Organizational Development

Lead from Management
Volunteer members

Organizational Development

Product Management

Lead from Products Delegate Circle
Volunteer members

Operations of Product Management

Information Security Management

Lead by person with the CISO role
Volunteer members

Information Security Management

Recruiting

Lead by person with the People Operations role
Volunteer members

Supporting the Recruiting process.

All other Interest Groups can be found in the wiki.

Structure

An Interest Group

  • consists of a bunch of VSHNeers from different teams who are interested in a topic and want to take care of it.

  • meets regularly or on demand to talk about the topics in question.

  • is long-living (that means Interest Groups aren’t suitable for short-lived topics).

  • is self-organized.

Constraints

An Interest Group

  • includes any affected VSHNeer in decisions.

  • has the authority and accounts for a domain of VSHN only when delegated by the containing domain. See below.

  • has and maintains a transparent Operations backlog, usually Jira tasks, task lists in wiki or similar.

  • has and maintains a transparent Governance backlog, usually the VSHN Improvement Process or lists and notes in wiki.

  • refines tasks or organizational drivers that fall within their scope of responsibility.

How to create an Interest Group

Strictly speaking, as soon as two or more people agree to tackle a long-term internal issue in VSHN, an Interest Group is born. The checklist below provides some guidelines on how to bring it to reality.

  1. Create a wiki space and name it appropriately, see the documentation guidelines.

  2. Create a Jira Chore blocking the right VINT-XX named "<Interest Group name> Meetings."

  3. Create a channel in rocketchat with #<interest group name>

    1. Include the link to the Jira Chore and to the Interest Group Wiki page in the channel topic. This helps that everyone knows how to log the time spent for the Interest Group.

  4. Link the wiki space in the List of Interest Groups.

  5. Announce the existence of the new Interest Group in the #general channel and in the next company meeting.

  6. With the VSHNeers interested:

    1. Clearly define the mission and write it down on the wiki page.

Optional: Get more autonomy for your Interest Group

If useful you can request delegation of accountability by the domain that contains your topic. Be aware that this has implications, for example that only you will be accountable for the domain from now on.

This might sound complicated, Organizational Development is happy to help you.

How to Abandon an Interest Group

When there is no more interest in a Interest Group, or its purpose has been fulfilled, we can abandon it following these steps.

  1. Make sure you’re no longer accountable for a domain (your topic) otherwise request to give accountability back to the domain that contains your topic (see above).

  2. Announce the situation to the people that could be affect in the chat. If there are no objections:

    1. Archive the corresponding wiki space.

    2. Document the reason for the abandonment on the List of Interest Groups.

    3. Remove the Interest Group from the Jira, for example tasks, VIPs, etc.