I often say this about social media surgeries: please keep it simple.
Why? Because the most important single thing about a surgery is that it should be there.
Being there is a core part of supporting communities. Month after month they know you’ll be there, they get used to it, they get used to the relaxed format and they come for help, come for ideas, come for connections, come back to offer help.
It is just a truth that something is more likely to happen if it’s simple. A cup of tea with a friend is much more likely to happen than a dinner party. A social media surgery is that cup of tea, easy informal, friendly.
Sometimes I see people wanting to run surgeries but getting into dinner party mode: trying to get all the partners on board first, guarantee that a certain number of people will turn up, thinking about handout sheets, trying to decide if someone is expert enough to be a surgeon, paying to book a room, worrying about feeding people, thinking it has to be in a library or a public building etc etc etc.
All the while they are doing this, the surgery isn’t there; it doesn’t exist.
The local community and voluntary organisations could have been turning up month after month in their ones and twos (or maybe dozens) getting help. But that didn’t happen because it had become complicated in the minds of the people who wanted to start the surgery.
A couple of years ago I wrote a recipe for a basic surgery but now I’d like to simplify it.
I think you need:
- a free room where there is wifi and you can buy or blag a drink (cafe is perfect)
- a surgery manager – the person who’s happy to choose a time and date and check with the people at the venue that it’s ok with them. On the day they welcome people, introduce them and just make sure people are ok.
- at least one surgeon (can overlap with manager in the weeny ones) and hopefully at least one person from a local community and voluntary group who wants some help
- zero expectations – high hopes can kill enthusiasm. Expect nothing and be delighted by what does happen.
That’s it – anyone can organise that – you can get one up and running tomorrow if you want.
So please keep it simple. Simplicity is usually the difference between a surgery being there or not.