[amsat-bb] Re: How volunteerism works...

Bill Ress bill at hsmicrowave.com
Fri Jul 18 10:08:48 PDT 2008

Hi Bob,

I would agree with you on some of your points but I would have to say 
you _really_ missed the mark when you said "The issue in an all 
volunteer organization is not "what" needs to be done, but who will step 
forward and do it, not the"management and direction" but the actual WORK."

To effectively use precious volunteers you need to provide them with 
clear goals, objectives/requirements and the "very important 
realization" that their efforts are meaningful and contribute to the 
mission goals. Goals, objectives and direction come from "management". 
Whether you realize that your efforts were meaningful is determined by 
what the "management" does with your efforts.

Case in point. In 2007, the primary Eagle hardware effort was the 
building of the 70 CM receiver capable of working in a PavePaws 
environment. While we often belabor the point of not being able to get 
volunteers, _it turned out that getting very capable volunteers to sign 
up for the effort was not that difficult_. The team was assembled and 
despite lack of guidance/direction on several requirements and process 
issues, the receiver module was shown at Dayton in its early uncompleted 
stages. That module sits today unfinished, a year later, as a paper weight.

So what happened? We had a volunteer team in place to do the WORK. That 
surely wasn't the problem.

Well - I can give you many reasons relating to the 70 CM receiver. Maybe 
the most glaring one is the fact that the 70 CM receiver design was 
intended to work in a HEO. It is not the design  for use on a LEO or 
GEO. But after years of promoting Eagle design objectives for a HEO, 
AMSAT management suddenly changed its "strategy" in late 2007 to pursue 
a Intelsat GEO "rideshare" opportunity, which today is a strategy very 
much in question. So any further effort on the 70 CM receiver was put on 
hold - until management could figure out what to do next,

Hence the "results" of  the 70 CM receiver volunteer team effort is very 
uncertain to this day, two years after the build effort started. Not a 
good to way to treat the volunteers who were there to do the WORK.

I submit, that with uncertain or changing "management strategies" 
guiding volunteer efforts, I can see why it could be tough to get 
motivated volunteers.

Regards...Bill - N6GHz

Robert Bruninga wrote:
> Again we see lots and lots of ideas of what "needs to be
> done"...  And most of them are pointed at better "management"...
> Or better "direction" of what is being done (by others)...
> The issue in an all volunteer organization is not "what" needs
> to be done, but who will step forward and do it, not the
> "management and direction" but the actual WORK.  That requires
> volunteers with the knowledge, skills, time and energy, and
> thick skin,  Especially under the hail of rocks and stones from
> the peanut gallery...
> Counter productive to getting the work we need done (volunteers
> we need) is the attitude from the peanut gallery about getting
> in there and "kicking butt" and "better management"...  You do
> that in an all volunteer organization and soon there is nothing
> left but managers and butt kickers and complainers.
> This happens in every aspect of ham radio all the way down to
> the local clubs and all the way to the top.  You'd think by now
> that the old-fuds who clamour for more effort (from others) have
> about 30 years of experience with how this does NOT work in ham
> radio.  Progress is made by self motivated individuals who see a
> need and jump in to fill it.
>  It is very simple!
> If you can contribute "work" then jump in and do it.  Othwerwise
> "get out of the way" and contribute money, food, encouragement,
> and assistance to those that do.  "Ankle-biting, naysaying, and
> complaining" accomplish absolutely nothing forward.  If you
> don't like the direction things are going, then jump in and go
> another way and see if you can find followers (workers, not
> ditto-heads)... But get out of the way of those that are making
> progress in their direction... That's the only way progress is
> made in volunteer organizations...
> This is surely what this old-fud has learned in the last 30
> years...
> Bob, WB4APR
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