In late January, SustainUS used its winter leadership to launch our new structure: “self-managed teams. This new model is outlined in our SustainUS Strategic Plan, but because of our COP21 work we delayed launching the structure until now.

Self-managed teams operate autonomously and aren’t under the management of the Coordinating Body as a whole, but rather each can have a unique structure, mission, and decision making process. Any SustainUS member can write up a proposal for the creation of a new self-managed team, as long as the focus fits within the mission and vision of SustainUS, and submit it to the Coordinating Body for approval. From temporary teams created to support short-term campaigns to permanent operations teams, some self-managed teams that have been approved and are currently working, through regular meetings and with a set vision, are the Democracy Spring team, Trade team, and Communications team.

Aside from the conference calls between such self-managed teams and the entire organization that can happen weekly or monthly, we communicate largely through Slack, a communication tool with different channels to chat in. Slack promotes quick communication within and between different teams and the transparency of the different channels, including the Coordinating Body channel, allow accountability for the actions of different teams. See below for a screenshot showing a portion of conversation in the #democracy-spring channel.

The SustainUS #democracy-spring team discusses recruitment for the mobilization in Slack.


Beyond the practical uses of Slack for the progression of a self-managed team and SustainUS as an organization, communication through Slack keeps us connected; the #random channel has its focus as “non-work banter and water cooler conversation.” Though the #random channel often is unrelated to climate work and can be, in the words of Kyle Gracey, chair of SustainUS Board of Directors, “pretty, um, random sometimes,” having these #random conversations progresses the connection and relationships of SustainUS members forward, despite our predominately online meetings and conference calls.

When teams were first being launched, the Coordinating Body helped set up team structures, recruiting new members and finding leaders. Now that it’s March and the self-managed teams are starting to build momentum with the work they do, we support the work of these self-managed teams by facilitating connections, providing funding, and staying a transparent resource for questions about any issues.

If you still have questions or want to create your own self-managed team within SustainUS, check out this document for frequently asked questions!

Aneesa Khan

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