Job Plans, Teams, and Projects!

Check out how The Carpentries team is supporting our community this quarter.

During our recent in-person meeting, we thought about what we valued most in our work: teamwork and community. Themes that were discussed frequently were ‘inclusivity’, ‘growth mindset’, ‘engagement’, and ‘collaboration’. We want to be intentional in the work that we do to support and help each other grow, and to support our programs and community.

This community has grown so much over the last year! From 43 Trainers at the start of 2018 to 74 now, from 1649 Instructors to 2294 now, and with many new members of committees, task forces, and the Executive Council. There continues to be a lot of great ongoing work, as well as a need to innovate and build infrastructure that scales. The great thing about our community is we always want to do better and try new things.

To balance ongoing work with projects and help us all understand and plan where time and resources are going, we’re rolling out job plans, teams, and projects. This strategy represents our values around going further together and enhancing transparency about how we work - ensuring that important work gets done, that people know how to contribute, and that we value all the work from staff and community contributors. Our strategy includes ensuring we define, measure, and assess outcomes, and consistently incorporate our values around equity and inclusion.

We started by updating team member roles and committees to reflect the work that everyone has been doing and that is planned for the year ahead. The Mentoring Committee has become the Instructor Development Committee, the Policy Committee is now the Code of Conduct Committee, Talisha has come on board as Administrative Support Specialist, Serah has joined as Community Engagement Lead, Elizabeth has moved into the role of Director of Membership, and SherAaron has transitioned from Workshop Administrator to Workshop and Logistics Manager. Additionally, Maneesha’s role as Program Manager has shifted to focus on supporting our infrastructure, and Kari has joined the Leadership Team as Senior Director of Equity and Assessment. Thank you to everyone who has helped guide those committee and staffing updates and provided feedback on what support is most helpful.

Job Plans

A mix of paid staff and contractors contribute their time directly to Carpentries work. We work to create, improve and support the pathways and processes of The Carpentries operations. To help us plan and provide a transparent way to see where each team member is spending their time, we’ve created job plans. Job plans describe a person’s major areas of responsibility (MAR) along with their goals and percent time dedicated to each of these areas. These are useful in many situations. If you are thinking job plans would be useful for you or your organisation, you can find our template with instructions.

To hold ourselves accountable, our job plans are public to the community and will be kept up to date with each team member’s work. Current job plans for each team member are available on our newly updated Team page.


Our job plans describe what each member of our team is working on, and indicate which programmatic teams we are each working with. Programmatic teams not only keep day to day operations going for workshops, instructor training, etc., but also look at that program as a whole, gather feedback, and evaluate the program strategically. Finally, within these teams, we can plan quarterly projects, focusing on the projects that have the greatest positive impact for our community.

We’ve structured our teams to bring together different perspectives, give more people a voice in planning and decision-making, and create the opportunity to understand the needs of the program and what will help it improve or scale. This is important because we know teams are more effective and responsive and that people working in inclusive teams have more ideas and enjoy their work more! Our teams have dynamic membership, growing or shrinking as dictated by the program’s needs. This structure lets the people closest to the work, plan the work.


To make sure work that is important, but not urgent, is prioritised and gets done, we’re focusing on planning out projects. Great books on project management abound, and we were fortunate to get some feedback from Melanie Nelson on project planning and management. Previously we had done shorter work cycles, but found we wanted more time for planning, feedback and wrap up. So, we’re trying out quarterly work cycles, with four planning, doing, and wrapping up phases per year. Serah came to the team with a fantastic project planning guide that outlines project roles, goals, communication channels, and more for each project. If you’d like to try out Serah’s project planning approach, the template and instructions on how to use it are available.

Since Q1 has already started, we’ve selected projects for this quarter that have been priorities for a while, or that gather feedback from communities to set the stage for future projects. This quarter we’re planning nineteen projects, some small (involving just a few people or feedback from groups like Member Organisations), and some larger (involving the whole community, like updating CoC documentation). To stay up-to-date on project progress and upcoming releases, subscribe to The Carpentries Community Calendar, which now includes major project milestones. For more details about projects and teams, read on!

Team and Project List

Leadership Team

Led by Tracy Teal, the Leadership Team oversees strategic planning, staff supervision and management, and financial performance and viability. The members of the Leadership Team are Erin Becker and Kari L. Jordan. This quarter, the Leadership Team will be working with the Executive Council on defining The Carpentries values and measuring project outcomes for assessment and equity and inclusion.

Membership Team

Led by Elizabeth Williams, the Membership Team coordinates the growing number of Carpentries Member Organisations, which build local communities and bring together all The Carpentries programs at organisations across the globe. Working with Elizabeth on the Membership Team is Tracy Teal. This quarter, the Membership Team will be creating and deploying a membership survey.

Community Development Team

Lead by Serah Njambi Kiburu, the Community Development Team works to develop and maintain an open and welcoming community culture by supporting our various committees and task forces. The members of the Community Development Team are Chris Erdmann and Kari L. Jordan. This quarter, the Community Development Team will be working on developing a communications strategy and updating our Code of Conduct documentation with the Code of Conduct Committee.

Workshop Team

Lead by SherAaron Hurt, the Workshop Team develops and implements workflows to keep our workshops running smoothly. This team also supports the work of regional workshop administrators. The members of the Workshop Team are Talisha Sutton-Kennedy and Kari L. Jordan. This quarter, working with the workshop administrators, they will be developing a workshop workflow automation priority list.

Curriculum Team

Led by Erin Becker, the Curriculum Team guides and oversees curriculum development and maintenance and works closely with our Maintainer community and Curriculum Advisor committees. The members of the Curriculum Team are François Michonneau and Chris Erdmann. This quarter, the Curriculum Team will be updating the format of Maintainer meetings, producing a first draft of a Curriculum Development Handbook, working with the Genomics R Maintainers to make progress towards publishing a lesson for working with Genomics data in R, working with the Maintainers group to develop a prototype for our new lesson template, and working with the Library Carpentry Maintainers and Curriculum Advisors to continue to develop Library Carpentry’s curricula. Whew!

Instructor Training Team

Led by Karen Word, the Instructor Training Team manages our Instructor Training and Trainer Training programs and curricula and works closely with our Trainer community. The members of the Instructor Training Team are SherAaron Hurt and Erin Becker. This quarter, the Instructor Training Team will be producing a workflow for offering a-la carte Instructor Trainings outside of our membership program.

Business Team

Led by Tracy Teal, the Business Team works on the legal and financial aspects of our project and coordinates with our fiscal sponsor, Community Initiatives. Tracy and the team members, Talisha Sutton-Kennedy and Elizabeth Williams, consistently evaluate and plan for our financial sustainability. This quarter they are updating our grants collaboration workflow and producing a 2018 Annual Financial Report to support the Executive Council in strategic planning.

Infrastructure Team

Led by François Michonneau, the Infrastructure Team is behind all of the systems that keep our organisation running (including Etherpads, lesson templates, database management and more!). The members of the Infrastructure Team are Maneesha Sane and Tracy Teal. This quarter, the Infrastructure Team will be organising and documenting our infrastructure systems, and migrating our surveys from SurveyMonkey to Typeform.

Job plans, teams, and projects are all things that have come out of conversation, feedback and ideas from so many. We’re excited to try them out together, to be open to feedback, and to learn as we go. We hope this creates a structure that allows us to continue to go further together as our community grows and scales not just what we do, but how we do it.

Dialogue & Discussion

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