2. Crewing

Video Transcript

Hi there, I'm Nati, I wanted to share with you some ideas about crewing. So, first of all, what are crews? For us, a crew is a small group of three to six people that support each other through emotional, practical and sometimes economical reciprocity as well. Now a note here about the number, three to six people is quite important. Through our years of practice, we understand that this is the number best suited for crews. If you're over there, and you have around eight to ten friends, and you want to crew together, then I recommend splitting into two crews. Start there, and then reshuffle the membership between the crews later on.

So what are the crews for? Well, in our community, crews are a very helpful place to build relationships across the congregation. They're a great way to connect and build deeper connections with people that you wouldn't normally interact with. Crews also help us to experience deeper connection with others and to actually feel seen. They are a great space to get support, to develop ourselves, but also to develop our projects. One of my crew members once said that, for them, the crew was the fastest vehicle for personal development, and I totally agree. It's in those deep relationships where we can experiment with new ways of being, feeling support, and to develop ourselves and grow as individuals. Crews are great to practice our collaborative and relational skills. In a crew is where we can get help to discover and set our developmental goals, to figure out the right ways to move forward if we get stuck, and to get good feedback from our crew members.

Next I want to share with you some considerations for crewing. What are the useful things to think about when you want to start a new group? First of all, we say that each crew has a caller, that is the person that creates the initial invitation. The caller is the person that brings the first impulse. Something simple like "I want to do X thing together, who wants to join me? How about we meet every two weeks?" That "something" that you want to gather for that will be your intention. What is the purpose, the "why" you're meeting together. In our network, there are a lot of different intentions that people bring into their crews.

Some of those intentions are, for example, a book club, or running a particular process for personal or professional support, or doing a course together, or discussing a particular topic, etc. There's a lot of different intentions someone might have for starting a crew. Sometimes the caller will bring a clear intention, put it out there to the community and find crew members: people interested. But sometimes the intention can be vague, like, "I want to go for personal development", and that's it. The details will get figured out together on the first call with whomever is keen to join.

Okay, so another consideration is about the norms. How do you want to be together? What are the behaviors you want and which ones you don't want? You can talk about what are each other's needs, expectations, fears, desires, what is it that each person brings into the crew. Then you can think together about what are some of the basic agreements then you need. For example, it's very common that crews will have a confidentiality agreement, meaning that anything that gets discussed in the group, it won't be shared outside the crew with anyone else.

Another thing to consider is the structure of the crew. What is the meeting format, what are you going to do when you meet together. Again, this can be a proposal that the caller brings, or something that gets decided together on the first few calls. You can follow a premade structure, or you can design your own. A lot of crews I know actually use a mixture of different practices and processes at different times. A lot of crews find clearly defined structures easier to keep their engagement going, but there's also a few crews that either have a very loose set of practices, or they don't have any structure at all. They just decide on the go, what is that they're going to do.

It's also useful to consider rotating the hosting. The idea is that the caller is the person that brings the initial invitation, but after that, it's important that people in a crew feel that they are equal, that they have equal responsibilities for that crew. So taking turns to pass around the hosting can really help to increase the sense of belonging and ownership that people have of that crew. When I say hosting, I mean, facilitating the calls, and maybe sending a little reminder beforehand to let people know when you're going to meet, and if there's any prep that they need to do in advance. This also helps people develop their hosting skills in a small setting that can feel safer for people to try things and get feedback from their peers.

So the next consideration is about rhythms. When are you going to meet, how often, and for how long? Planning it from the start, it helps with clear commitment, and minimizing the scheduling needed for each call. Ideally, you can find a rhythm that is right at the beginning, so you can commit to, say, two months, and have regular meetings in your calendar to help you out.

A part of the rhythm consideration is also the idea of cycles. When will you finish crewing? Or at least when are you going to stop to reflect on your crewing? We use the phrase "start with the end in mind". This gives people the chance to consider their capacities, and know if they can commit with clarity. It also helps to know that there will be a time when people can step down from the crew, if for example, their capacity or their priorities change. It tends to happen that the first time in a crew, people feel really connected with the others and they don't want to stop. Or maybe they don't want to let people down if they don't have as much time for meeting anymore. Or they may want to crew with some other people and try something different. So it's good to have a space in time to stop, reflect and decide if you want to keep on going or not. Maybe it's time to split and create a new crew or maybe you just want to have a break.

Stopping to reflect is not only useful for deciding if you want to continue, but also to learn together and be able to improve on your crewing. For this we use a process called a retrospective. It's a simple process for a meeting to reflect on your crewing. We ask: on the last cycle, what worked well, and what didn't. Based on what we hear, we can decide on some changes we want to make for the next cycle, if we decide to keep going together.

For example, maybe we tried a specific structure, and we noticed that some of the formats didn't work well for a few of us, then we can choose to try something different or to adjust the format to suit us better. Or maybe we just want to dry different rhythms for our meeting, or even change our intentions. Retrospectives also help us surface tensions to be able to address them. So no matter what considerations you choose to use, I highly recommend you to incorporate retrospectives into your cycles. If you choose a longer cycle for your crew, let's say you're going to be crewing for a year, then make sure you have a retrospective meeting every month or so.

Okay, that's all the considerations that I wanted to share with you for crewing. If you want to learn more about different practices and structures for crews, make sure to check the extra resources in this module.


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