Lessons learned from starting a Working Group

The Land Surface Working Group has started its meeting before others. Here are a few lessons we learnt from the process:

  • Set the meeting frequency. For the land group, we left the group to decide. There was some consensus in order to build a community and collaboration, we would need to meet at least fortnightly.
  • Set the type of meetings. Formal/Informal? What are you going to talk about? science talks? common projects? do you want people to talk about what they are working on right now or what they have finished? Should people send agenda items via the forum and pick these as they come in? Obviously, it can evolve. It doesn’t have to be clear from the start, it can be informed from discussions at the WG meetings.
  • Clearly state how the communication will work: between co-chairs and the community and within the community. This Forum!
  • Getting people to know how to join the Working Group is more tricky than you may think. It will be easier with the instructions on the ACCESS-NRI website but don’t hesitate to send plenty of emails in the first few weeks.
  • It is helpful to do a round-table at the start to know who people are (e.g. What they are working on and which tools they use) and what they’d like to get from the Working Group. It can help shape how the meetings are organised. It gives an idea of what common themes/projects can be discussed/pursued.
  • We also sent around the Working Groups Terms of Reference so people can clearly see the overall purpose of the working groups. We discussed these ToR at the first meeting.
  • We haven’t discussed the compute resources yet as they were not set up.

Other things to consider:

  • Defining the tools used: Doodle to find the best day/time in the week to hold the meetings? Communication between chairs/liaisons: do you need more than emails and the forum? Google? Sharepoint? etc. What platform for the meetings: Zoom, Teams, Webex? (remember the limitations for different institutions)
  • Set up a recurring video meeting. I gave up on sending a ics file, leaving people to deal with their calendars but feel free to set this up if you want to.
  • Who and when will the notices for the next meeting, meeting notes etc. be sent.
1 Like

Something to watch out for, it’s possible some people set their notification level to tracking instead of watching by mistake. From experience, they won’t necessarily realise their mistake on their own.

Possible solutions:

  1. Sometime after the start of the working group meetings, you can send another email to the community with the instructions to join the working group and some indication of what to expect if things are set right (the frequency at which they should expect to receive an email for example).
  2. ACCESS-NRI staff can get a list of people interested in a topic through the forum data explorer. It indicates if people have set their notification level to “tracking” (level 2). Then it’s possible to email (or DM on the forum) these specific users to ensure this setting is their choice and not a mistake.

This is another reason for everyone to sign up to the relevant discourse group, as the group admins can message the group with the same information in solution 1.