Minutes:Mentorship Process Committee 20130203

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See also: Mentor for hints/checklist/goals.

Mentorship Committee

This committee in currently dissolved. 1/20/16.

Working group for adding mentors to the signup process

What's On This Page

During a strategy meeting on Sunday 27 December 2013, a group of us identified the need for a mentoring system. (The mentor helps ease a new member's transition into I3.)

Current members of the group are:

  • Matt Ohrlein
  • Maddie Winans
  • Matt Arnold
  • Roger Slykhouse
  • Jody Raiford
  • Kevin Flory

This page is the clearinghouse for all things mentorial--in particular, draft documentation related to mentors.

Existing Documentation Related To Signup

Uploaded Files (New Documents)

Please note that all documents are DRAFT. What that means is that I wrote them in a very informal tone, and the formatting is maddeningly bad. They're draft, though, so feel free to submit revised versions!

Procedure Notes

The following are very rough drafts of the current signup procedure and of the proposed new steps involving a mentor.

What makes this different from current documentation is that these steps are broken up so they can be easily checklisted. In particular, I've tried to call out deliverables when possible.

These steps are given in-line so that anyone may annotate or modify them. If you make extensive modifications, please take a backup of the existing text beforehand (plop it in an email, put it at the end of this page, or attach as .txt file).

Current Process

Note: “Signer-up” is a cumbersome phrase. So is “person doing signup”. I'm going to riff on one of Nate's phrases and call the responsible person the 'Keymaster'. I will refer to the new member-in-process as the 'Noob', and the mentor as the ... 'Mentor'.

The current steps are:

  1. New Member Form. Noob reads the New Member Form completely. When done reading, Noob completes the fill-in-the-blanks portions of the form. Noob hands form to Keymaster.
  2. Payment. The Noob may already have made a payment--either via Amazon or other means (gold dust, Italian lirae etc. in payment box). If not, and if Noob indicates interest in paying via Amazon, Keymaster walks Noob through setting up recurring payment. Otherwise, Keymaster guides the Noob over to the payment box and payment forms (while reiterating how easy it is to use Amazon). Amazon link is available on the I3 external website.
  3. Tour Kick-Off. Keymaster prints two copies of closeout procedure (HOWTO Close up the space). Then Keymaster either leads Noob on tour of the space, or (preferably) gets someone else to do it while the Keymaster proceeds with the next step.
    1. Preferably, as per Nate Bezanson's mail, the person running the tour is a recently-joined member. This method lets the recent join consolidate their own knowledge by passing it on to someone else.
  4. Key creation. The Keymaster burns a key for the new member.
  5. Data entry. The Keymaster enters the new member into the CRM (using the New Member Form) and creates a Wiki account. The Keymaster sends an invitation to all three Google groups.
  6. On completion of the Tour, Keymaster presents Noob with key. The two set up the entry code for the new key.

Proposed Changes

  1. Formalize the tour portion. In the new process, the Keymaster never leads the tour him/herself if a recently-jointed member is available. Instead, the Keymaster selects a recently-joined member and asks them to do the tour, handing the closeout-procedure printout to the recent member and the new member. Those two perform the closeout procedure while the Keymaster proceeds with data entry and key creation.
  2. Formalize and write down the key-burning procedure. On the one hand, we don't need to have everyone know how to do this. But wouldn't it be great...?
  3. Formalize and write down the CRM entry procedure, Wiki account creation procedure, and the Google Groups invite-generation procedure. As for #2, wouldn't it be great if everyone knew how to do this?
  4. The big change: Addition of a mentor.

These steps follow 3 or 6 in the current procedure, above. They hinge on the addition of a mentor.

  1. Keymaster selects someone from a (yet-to-be-defined) pool of potential mentors. Keymaster introduces Mentor to Noob, and explains that the mentor will be handling the next part of the process—introducing the Noob to I3 now that all the formalities are completed.
  2. Mentor and Noob sit down together—preferably in a nice quiet spot—and pull out laptops.
    1. Hopefully, the Noob has brought a laptop. If not, he/she can be loaned: 1) the Craft Room machine, 2) Nate Bezanson's laptop, or 3) the dedicated laser cutter laptop, if no-one else is already using it.
    2. Google Groups invite acceptance. If the Noob hasn't already received a welcome email with links to Google Groups, the Mentor sends one. [The Noob should also have received emails from Google Groups itself upon invite generation.] The Mentor then walks the Noob through acceptance of the invite and the Noob's introductory list posting (see next step in proposed changes).
    3. Since not all new members have any sort of Google account, the Mentor may also have to walk the Noob through setting up a Google account prior to invite acceptance.
    4. Noob's introductory list posting.
    5. Noob's introduction to the Wiki. Mentor reviews the Wiki with the Noob. This should at minimum include searching, and probably a pointer to the Bylaws and to the Zone Coordinator info on the main page. If the Noob has been granted a Wiki account as part of sign-up, it could also cover basic Wiki operations. The rest is optional.
  3. Next-steps setup. Now the Noob and the Mentor need to find mutually-agreeable times and venues for at least one follow-up meeting. This is essentially a 'how-ya-doin' check to make sure the Noob is able to find everything and is integrating properly. [No calculus jokes, please.]
  4. Even more stuff. If the Noob is not totally exhausted by this point, there follows a round of introductions to anyone who happens to be wandering by. There may also be a hands-on—this is especially appropriate if the Noob has a goal in mind. (“I want to build a flying toilet”, for instance, would involve tutoring in the appropriate fasteners for porcelain or an introduction to anyone with quadcopter experience. It might even spawn a group discussion on avoiding negative consequences from waste materials venting into the rotors.)


  • Produce draft documents: Job descriptions for mentor and "signer-up". (It's in quotes because I can't think of a better name. This is the person who does all the initial paperwork and coordinates the noobie's walkthrough. Name suggestions welcome!)
    • Kevin Flory, in process
  • Product draft document: A clear writeup of the signup procedure, setting forth both how it exists at the current time and our proposed change (the mentor).
    • Kevin Flory, in process
  • A flowchart of the signup process, created from the above. (We already have plenty of documentation on the signup procedure; the purpose of the writeup is to act as input for the flowcharting phase.)
    • Kevin Flory, in process
  • A version of the close-out procedure with checkboxes, for use on a clipboard
    • Kevin Flory, in process
  • A version of the close-out procedure, expanded with explanations (and other materials--possibly maps), for use by new members
    • Kevin Flory, in process

Document: Job Description: Mentor Status: Draft Version Author: Kevin Flory Date: 29 Jan 2013

This is a high-level overview of the mentor concept. It does not lay out the specific actions of the mentor during signup.

Brief Description:

Most of our incoming members find I3 somewhat daunting at first—there's so many new faces, so many procedures, so many toys. To help noobs adapt, we'd like to be able to give new members a single contact who can help cut through the complexity and get them playing as quickly as possible.

Responsibilities: Help new members 'ease in to' I3 Social: Introduce the noob to people. Drop names. Procedural: Help the noob find information. This doesn't mean you have to rewrite the member manual; it does mean you email the right Wiki link when asked (and gently remind the noob of correct procedure when you see them violate it) Not a tutor—a facilitator

NOT Responsibilities:

The position is NOT that of a tutor.

Mentors are there primarily to buffer the noob socially and channel questions. The really simple ones--”Where is the bathroom?”, “Is this poisonous?”--are often the ones new members are afraid to ask for fear of looking stupid. The more complex ones--”How can I use a car battery to power my laptop?”--are often not asked because the noob doesn't know WHO to ask or HOW.

The mentor answers the simple ones, and (unless they're the resident expert on power conversion systems) finds the best way to get the other questions answered. That might be via a pointer to the Wiki, a post to the mailing list, or an in-person introduction to the person who can answer the complex questions.

See the signup process document for more details. Although most responsibilities don't need to be set out in excruciating detail, the mentor has a very specific role at the end of the signup process.