• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Ash Jackson
  • Kate Downham

bounty program overhaul 2020 brainstorming

 
master steward
Posts: 32705
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
hugelkultur trees chicken wofati bee woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When Jim Juczak was here to teach the ATC a couple of years ago, he was staying in the red cabin.   He commented on the low quality of the interior siding.  I said "suppose I had a pile of raw wool and wood - what would you charge to insulate the red cabin with the wool using the wood to side the interior and basically hold the wool in."  "$200 and it would look ten times better than it does now."  "How long would it take you?"  "With a bit of luck, less than an 8 hour day" "I paid two guys that said they were master carpenters $400.  After two weeks they wanted more money because it was taking so long.  But I learned the reason it was taking so long was that they didn't know what they were doing and they only put in about two hours per week."

To fill in the story, they took a large amount of my time to get feedback and advice.  They claimed to be "done" about four times.  It was such a super simple project.  

I think the bounty program is a really great idea.  Good for all sorts of residents here.   We even had one guy come by to spend a week here and harvest one bounty.  

We had one guy pick up a $600 bounty by saying "Well, I have never tried anything like that before, so I don't know if $600 is a good deal or if I will be getting paid to learn a lot of cool stuff."  -  he did a good job.  He never once mentioned how many hours it took - he just stuck to it until it was done and done well.  He was happy.  I was happy.

We've had some people that didn't have what it takes to do a $200 bounty, so they had to do a $20 bounty.  And they needed so much guidance, it would have taken less of my time to simply do it myself.  

So far the whole bounty system has been a resentment engine.  Not for the $600 guy.  But for most people involved.  And resentments are poison on community.   If somebody agrees to do a task for $200 thinking that it will take a day, but they are five days into it, they feel like their pay per hour is dropping well below minimum wage.  And they resent that.  And it seems like the bounty system ended up at this point about 90% of the time.  

And I got to the point that I hated the bounty program.  There was a 90% chance of the "I demand more money" thing, compounded with a need for me to check progress several times, and further compounded with many rounds of "I'm done - pay me." (and they are far from done)   Or what they did was of such horribly low quality, it has to be done over again.

Other problems were:

  - making an enormous mess that either the bootcamp has to clean or I have to pay somebody to clean
  - breaking my tools
  - wasting my materials
  - getting about 10% of the way done and proclaiming "I am halfway done, pay me half"
  - getting about 10% of the way done and proclaiming "I am halfway done, pay me half - or else"
  - trying to work on their bounty instead of nest labor
  - trying to work on their bounty instead of project labor
  - leaving a half complete project in middle of the shop for months
  - leaving a project that the bootcamp has to finish

Overall, I suppose the worst problem was that it would usually turn into a problem that would end their relationship with this community.  And they might want to poison the community on their way out.  "Paul is such a fucking idiot.  I'm outta here.  You need to leave here too!" - sort of stuff.  My guess is that for a $200 job, they would allow themselves one day to get it done, put in two hours and tell themselves that was "a day" - and then be angry that the job isn't anywhere near done.  

---

I just now and went to talk to Fred about it.  Fred rolled off about a dozen reasons to never do the bounty program again.  It always ended up being hard on him, and hard on me.  Ug.

At the same time, I think it is good for people to have a way to earn a little side coin.  

Fred points out that all of the bounty projects are also on the projects list.   So they will all get processed eventually - without a bounty program.

----

So let's think about overhauling this program.  We probably should leave it mothballed forever, but maybe there is a way to get this to work again.

We need a system that is resentment free.  And we need a system where I don't dread doing it.  Or fred.  Or anybody.

I visited with Orin this morning about ideas and he had two excellent ideas!

Orin's Idea #1:  Nobody gets to take on a bounty by themselves until they are deemed ready.   Somebody with plenty of experience will vet them first.   Maybe work with them for a cut a few times.  Maybe they will prove themselves during the bootcamp, or maybe they will help with somebody else's bounty (without a cut).  Or maybe do a bounty by themselves with a fair bit of guidance for a 50/50 split.  

Orin's Idea #2:  Have some sort of bounty program vow.   Maybe "I vow to accept that completing this task may take a hundred times longer than I originally anticipated, and that it is not done until the stakeholder is 100% satisfied.  I embrace that I may end up earning less than $1 per hour - but I consider that this is actually getting paid to learn rather than paying to learn."  ---  I dunno, something like this.  Some sort of statement that will somehow reduce the probability of all the problems.  


---

I'm writing this and remembering all the awful of the past.   And now I have fred's fresh words of problems still ringing in my ears.  There were several times the bounty program worked silky smooth, but for each of those there were seven ugly messes.  And some of those were uglier than others.   I'm now thinking that it might be time to simply declare that the bounty program is officially retired.  

Maybe the thing to do is simply leave this up as a reminder to myself of why we don't do it.  

It seems like it should be a simple and lovely thing.  And with professionals it ends up being a simple and lovely thing - if it wasn't a simple and lovely thing, then it is fair to say you're not working with a professional.  

What do you think? Salvageable?  


 
pollinator
Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
182
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
>Orin#1

+1    Orin's suggestion that participants need vetting follows directly from the fact that the enthusiastic questors seeking out your bit of grail are simply not all "professional". Those wondrous people, as the last paras in your post point out, work just fine and probably would do the same in heaven or hell - they're just that kind of person. But "professionals" are not the bulk of the material you have to work with. Most of the inflow, I venture, are young people looking for a positive experience without hassles where they can do what young people do. I would venture most are nominally good natured and healthy, but that is about all you can assume. Well, and you can assume there's a fair bit of testosterone and BS floating about. Comes with young people, part and parcel with their energy.

I think it might be helpful to make the Bounty something that "a few good woofers" might participate in. The Marines have been mining that one successfully for generations - it has a good track record.

Paul, think about the step from digging a ditch and putting dirt where you're told to and quitting at 5pm... To laying out the ditch, assembling tools, directing work and solving problems (eg. large rock) and seeing to it that your directions are followed and the job gets done right, nobody gets hurt and not much is broken. Then seeing that the tools get back where they belong, that everybody is accounted for and giving reminders and getting commitments for the next days work schedule. Then going and explaining to the _real_ boss why the ditch is only 3/4 as far along as was planned. Then (maybe) getting to dinner.  Big BIG step, right? It looks to me like not allowing and respecting the real (lack of) abilities in your base level work force is at the root of your Bounty woes. You are, in effect, running a summer camp (of like minded folk, one hopes, but still...) and forgetting can lead to grave disillusion.

Establishing the Bounty's as something only available to those who have reached certain levels of participation _and_ recognition (hours, PEP's, certified pro-bono tasks, whatever) might help winnow down applicants (w/out the "Bounty Boss" needing to make decisions, eg. say "no") while at the same time motivating the right kind of people to "go for it". Then issue Merit badges.  Starting to appreciate the Boy Scouts? <GG> Call them something else, of course, but make the Bounty Boys' accomplishments recognizable as an achievement at the labs. Tender privileges appropriate to somebody who's "professional" and bent on getting good work done. Priority with tools? Showers any time, go to head of the line? Personal fridge space? IOW, something tangible and useful day to day to  help a guy/gal working their ass off and also as a sign of "professional" respect. The "merit badges" and perqs could go a long way toward naturally shaping the Bounty program using human nature and not crossing it.

>Orin#2 Vows.
Flesh in game; horse in the race. Good.

You are still faced with the need to actively monitor (manage) these Bounty's because you cannot afford to let a project go bad unbeknownst to you. Regardless of their potential and good intentions most of your Bounty Hunters will be inexperienced, over confident, ignorant and other less flattering things. If they are young, that litany is basically their job description, as a Young Idiot in Training. I can not hold it against them and I think it's not really fair to _expect_ anything different at their beginning. In the age of apprenticeships, somebody, usually a father, had to _buy_ the position for their son. And it was quite expensive. There were many reason for this high cost, but one of them for sure was that molding the Young Idiot was often very expensive in time and money. I have seen the same problem in small plumbing companies trying to shape some eager young hunk into a helper that didn't actually lose money for the company. It usually took a year before a new helper started to break even for the business (ie. stopped costing the company more money than they brought in).

I strongly doubt you can "make out" on the Bounty program fiscally. It will have to be a labor of love and/or investment in a better world. Ticket to heaven? Something like that. If you find yourself able to cobble together some narrative that shows you have at least broken even (by considering all sorts of intangibles) I'd say you have succeeded in spades. Don't hassle the pennies cuz it's not fair to either you or the Bounty program. That's not the kind of program it is. Is it?

Cheers,
Rufus
 
Posts: 40
Location: Northants, United Kingdom
8
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Re: Orin 1 - would this be a beautiful opportunity to apply some PEP to your programme? Could you label items of work "requires following badge bits / PEP level" then anyone who hasn't proved (somewhere else) that they're competent need not apply. That could shrink your applicant pool to those who have experienced approximately what it will take to get a job done, and encouraged people in general to get PEP-worthy because there is now some coin on offer?
 
pollinator
Posts: 488
289
solar wood heat
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like the PEP tool to screen applicants, however, one of the devious type could post pics found elsewhere.

My idea was not two unrelated separate ideas.  It was one idea with multiple steps. Now I'll take Hilary's idea and incorporate it and everyone can see how these seemlingly two ideas are steps with Hilary's mixed in.

1a. Bounties are paid by piece, not time (what takes one person a month, another can do in three days).
1b No bounty is paid for incomplete work, even if 90% done.
1c Bounties are classified in terms of PEP types and possibly, mixtures of PEP types.
2 Bounties are then classified according to the level of PEP(s). A bounty hunter must be certified up to that level or higher.
3 A Boot doing a bounty for the first time must work with an onsite expert and share the bounty 50-50 until the expert decides the boot is ready to work alone.
4 Onsite Expert sign off. Even if the bounty hunter has been certified by first the PEP level and secondly the expert's training, the onsite expert still must certify that the bounty is complete.
5 If the bounty must be torn apart due to low quality, and fasteners along with materials are ruined, two things must occur:
       the bounty must be rebuild according to spec;
       the bounty paid out will be reduced by the cost of any new material and fasteners.

The above single idea with multiple steps will avoid even an expert from becoming lazy or sloppy!  While beginners get free training and money while getting the free training!

Now with regards to nest time and project time.  I believe there should be a designated full 24 hours that 100% belongs to the Boots (except in the case of a dire emergency like fire, earthquake, and epidemic where everyone needs help).... I suggest this day be Sunday. Without this designated day, I believe a Boot soon becomes ran ragged with the idea he/she has no down time, no rest time, no recreation time,  no time to do bounties, and more importantly, no time to innovate!

Secondly, I believe the Boots need community holidays to look forward to: the solstices and equinoxes for instance. The community would celebrate these as full days of cooking, dancing, music and skill display.

Lesser community times would be full moons, the end of planting, the end of harvest, the end of a large project like the berm shed or Alterton Abbey fence, etc.

These would be community activities and holidays in which a Boot has the choice of project work or attending the community festivities!
 
Rufus Laggren
pollinator
Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
182
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
> [above Bounty design steps (Orin)]

Does the time input  from staff and "expert" pencil out after running a few "real" examples? Ie. materials control, oversight hours, review of qualifications, payout, conflict resolution/abatement, etc?

What's the graceful policy/procedure for "failures"? Where everybody has a chance to walk away feeling mostly ok? Success ratio can be bettered by front loading the vetting process and diligent mentoring and such, but there _will_ be "failures". So probably better to have some thoughts and plans. That really is part of the learning/development process for all concerned. "Fail" upwards, as they say.


What is the guiding philosophy of Bounty program? Ie. what standards, visions are applied to determined if it's "successful" or needs more help? Also, without something formal (it can be qualitative) those running the program have no support, guidance or justification for their various decisions. That's a stressful position and one that catches all the shit. Ask Paul.


Rufus


 
Rufus Laggren
pollinator
Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
182
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
[care of woofers... woofer time]

+1
Bodies and spirits need time for other stuff, other worries, other experiences.  Does W-Labs have a playing field for nice stupid stuff like FrizzBee Football and reading a book while watching  your friends entertain you with their antics? Staff vs. Woofer volleyball? How silly can you get?


Rufus
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 32705
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
hugelkultur trees chicken wofati bee woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like the idea of the bounty program being open only to people that are PEP1 certified.  At this moment, I am leaning heavily toward that being a requirement.  
 
gardener
Posts: 530
Location: British Columbia
367
monies home care forest garden foraging chicken wood heat homestead ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Orin's Idea #2

I think putting it in writing is a good way for people to understand what is at stake and then you have something to reference back to if there is a dispute.

I think even better would be for THEM to put it in writing. Have them outline a 'contract' and put in the effort to even be chose to do the task; show they are at least willing to put in the activation energy. You can give them the bullet points of essential items that you require.

An alternative idea is to emphasize all the 'pluses' the get beyond $$$. Yes, education is huge but what about room and board? What would someone normally pay for those items if they were staying at Wheaton Labs? Gapper fee? Ect. ?
 
master steward
Posts: 8717
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
2511
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think being amazingly clear on what the finished product needs to look like is quite important.  My idea of a "fabulous paddock gate" and yours may be tremendously different.

Regarding PEP1 certification, I'm thinking it might be better to require them to have the Straw or Wood badge for the aspect you care about instead of PEP1.  The dimensional lumber woodworking BBs to achieve PEP1 aren't terribly complicated.  So turning a PEP1 certified person loose on making a rolly shelf may be a huge disappointment if that's the only prerequisite for them getting the job.
 
Rufus Laggren
pollinator
Posts: 1233
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
182
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ashley

Understanding, commitment and clarity with something written... Yeah, that's hard to argue with.

But.

"[write it themselves]

I would suggest there are serious problems there:
- Time.
- "Talking points" which can lead to argumentation and efforts to get ones way..
-  Writing ability. Most people don't (and never have) "write" as a discipline and thus often don't put things together in written format well. And then there's the Ivy League guy who has gone to law school...
-  Perceived fairness when arrangements are clearly not the same for different people  ("...but _they_ are getting _that_.  Wahhh!!!")

It mostly comes back to time. Part part of this is ensuring clarity, especially for staff.  "Here's the deal, it's very basic, applies to everybody"; along with everything/anything else is "yes, well, we ask that you get started within the normal guidelines and then if you and your mentor both agree something a little different, that _may_ be possible down the line.  Each and _every_ bounty needs to start right (well, in an ideal world) and thus each one that's different in the formal setup would take it's own hour(s) to create with a new participant - with unknown consequences. Negotiation with folks that haven't done something before always takes time. When the playing field and rules are already decided (as they _absolutely_ have to be, IMHO) and options available for discussion are few, standard, and limited to those which can honestly be considered (as opposed to everything else which is just a non-starter), the participants have a chance of understanding their opportunity. And hopefully without a degree or hours of back/forth.


Any rules" and agreement need to be very simple and clear. When I was designing forms, both paper and on-screen, for banks and retail, it turned out that the forms which people actually used were the ones with the most white space, the simplest ones which had flexibility and fit many different persons' usage style. There were a minimum of boxes which _had_ to be filled satisfactorily, but by hacking off the various bosses' obsessive control freak instincts to the barest necessary info, we allowed work to actually proceed and get done. And without creating a pack of scofflaws who simply trashed company or department procedures - that is a very bad thing to happen because it destroys respect and morale and leaves everything disorganized and scattered. It's a balance, different for any group and changing over time. It depends. But there _is_ significant choice here, a matter of degree, which matters and which discussion with many inputs like Paul has generated here should help succeed.


Regards,
Rufus
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 32705
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
hugelkultur trees chicken wofati bee woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mike Haasl wrote:I think being amazingly clear on what the finished product needs to look like is quite important.  My idea of a "fabulous paddock gate" and yours may be tremendously different.



I think it would take me more time to create a document or design than if I just do it myself.

 
Mike Haasl
master steward
Posts: 8717
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
2511
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I completely understand.  I'd be really on the fence about doing bounties if I were in your shoes as well.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 32705
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
hugelkultur trees chicken wofati bee woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Maybe that's a part about the bounty program:  gotta have somebody that seems to get it.  Somebody that can do a great job without a lot of oversight.  

 
Mike Haasl
master steward
Posts: 8717
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
2511
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yeah, maybe in order to do a simple bounty you need to have been there a week.  To do something important you need to have been there a month.  To do something epic/expensive, two months.  Then you'd know them well enough to know innately if they can actually do the job.
 
eat bricks! HA! And here's another one! And a tiny ad!
Call for Instructors for the 2021 RMH Jamboree!
https://permies.com/wiki/149908/Call-Instructors-RMH-Jamboree
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic