Who are we? Why are we here? From all the discussions we’ve had over the past few weeks, it’s clear that the Program Coordinator role is the least well-understood part of the redefinition. That’s not a surprise. There’s a natural tendency to try to understand a new system by mapping it to the old system, and there isn’t a good way to do that for Program Coordinators. So, the goal here is to help everyone understand the role better and what you can expect from us.
We spent a surprising amount of time during the redefinition discussing the name of the role, because we needed something that would suggest that they were responsible for the general functioning of the program, but not in charge of everything. Program Coordinators are on equal footing with the other two advanced roles (Regional Coordinators and Grand Prix Head Judges); they just focus on a different part of the judge program – the program itself.
The best metaphor that I’ve come up for what we do is that we’re air traffic controllers. We don’t fly the planes, but rather make sure that the planes are all in the air where they need to be, on the right flight path, and not about to crash into each other.
We empower people. As Program Coordinators, we have oversight of the functional aspects of the judge program, but no specific project portfolio (though individual members may have their own projects outside of being Program Coordinators). We aren’t here to tell people how to run their projects, but to provide help and feedback to the project leaders to give their projects the best chance at success. The project leads will make the final call wherever possible.
Obviously there’s a lot of overlap in the skills needed to be a Program Coordinator and leading a successful project, and you’ll see that in their identities; each Program Coordinator is known for their project work, and demonstrated success in that area is an essential prerequisite to apply for the role this fall (details to come as the time approaches).
We work with Wizards and other Tournament Organizers to understand their goals and plans, then figure out how to best position the judge program in that environment. We work with affected project leaders to make sure everyone understands the direction and priorities. If we need something new, we reach out to someone we think is ready to take on that challenge.
We watch out for stalled projects and project leaders, and help them get back on track. We advise on priorities. And yes, in worst case scenarios, we may have to remove someone from a project. I doubt it will come to that.
In many ways, it’s best when Program Coordinators are invisible. Like air traffic controllers, our most important work is behind the scenes, and we’re happy to bask in the reflected glory of pilots landing their planes successfully. However, sometimes we have to speak as the voice of the program, so you’ll still hear from us on occasion, often from this shiny new blog!