Building on my last email reviewing 2017, this month I want to share more of our plans, following our January team off-site.
This update covers:
1. CEA’s 2018 Priorities
2. Open contract roles at CEA
3. New COO; Larissa Hesketh-Rowe
As discussed in my last update, CEA seeks to support the EA community by helping to provide the money, people, ideas and coordination necessary for us to collectively have an impact in the long run.
We currently believe that the most prominent bottleneck is the community having enough talented people doing the direct work the community needs. We think there is still low-hanging fruit here where we can help many of the dedicated people already in the community to improve their skills and think about where best to use them.
We believe we need to find out a lot more about the great people we have already in the EA community. This will help us understand what they need now, and learn how to improve the pipelines through which new people discover EA (e.g., EA Global, local group support and online content).
This year, therefore, our three priorities are to:
1. Get to know the more engaged community members and how we can best help them
2. Improve our decision-making by improving our metrics and access to data
3. Improve how our other projects help people become engaged community members
As we discussed in our year-end review, our thinking about where we can have the biggest impact as an organization has changed over the last year. We believe that, by nature of the resources they have access to, some individuals may well be able to have a much higher impact than others. This means that when it comes to deciding how to prioritize the resources we have (our time and our money) we need to focus more attention there than we have in the past.
This is why we set up the Individual Outreach Team. Their focus this year is to understand better our core community members and the people we think can have the biggest impact through direct work, and learn how we can help them get involved in different projects in EA.
This year they’ll be running small, monthly events, speaking to lots of members of the EA community and trying to learn as much as possible about how to better help them have an impact.
By having this team focus on what Y Combinator might call our “top 100 users” this still allows our other teams to focus on the wider community and on improving the pipeline by which people get involved.
Beyond learning about our core users, we also want to improve our decision-making by developing better metrics and data collection. We’ve been trialing one metric for measuring the impact of something like plan changes in EA. While the theory has been useful, there have been bugs in implementation, and so we’re now working on the next version.
We also want to collect more useful data about our work and make existing data more accessible. We hope that these efforts will make it much easier for CEA to notice when we’re off track, and to make course corrections earlier.
We believe that to achieve our vision for an optimal world, we will need many more people than are currently in the EA Community.
Of course, growth — if not managed carefully — comes with potential costs such as added coordination problems or risk of losing much of the nuance of EA. That is why this year we want to use what we learn to build capacity for a much larger, stable future community.
This means improving our content and events so that people new to effective altruism can understand the concepts in full. It also means scaling our proactive community health efforts to ensure that as the community grows, we retain good epistemic norms and the ability to coordinate effectively.
In practice, this means that in 2018, we will be working on:
Running EA Global events that effectively transmit our current understanding of EA core concepts
Working to improve community norms and coordination so that adding more people to the community adds more value, without downsides related to growth
Updating the content on effectivealtruism.org to accurately reflect our current understanding and priorities, so that readers can get on board more quickly
Similarly, ensuring that local group leaders and other community builders have an up-to-date and nuanced understanding of EA, such that the message shared is more accurate
Building ops capacity such that we continue to grow as an organization effectively
We are recruiting for two part-time contractors to help us produce EA Global this year; an Assistant Event Producer and a Communications Officer. Please pass on these opportunities to others you think would be interested. If you have any questions about the roles, please email email@example.com.
Finally, I am pleased to announce that Larissa Hesketh-Rowe has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer.
This change in title is mostly a belated acknowledgment of the role Larissa has played over the last year. Larissa has been supporting at CEA in many ways; taking on things like managing team retreats, helping with recruitment and setting company-wide priorities.
She was one of the first managers in our current CEA structure and understands our history and our culture. I’m confident CEA’s operations are going to be in excellent hands. This means if you have any questions about CEA do reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the best,