Thoughts on the Upcoming Board Meeting

I’d like to attend next weekend’s board meeting, but it’s not looking like it’s in the cards for me this time, barring a last minute change of plans.  It’s even in (well, near) my old hometown (though my family doesn’t live there anymore.

But I have taken some time to peruse the agendas and I started to write a blog entry giving my thoughts based on reading them and I realized that they are part of the fundamental disconnect we have between the board and the membership.  I really can’t read these agendas and tell whether I should care about what’s going to go on at that committee meeting.  I wanted to comment on particular agendas, but without taking the time to contact each committee chair and asking “Hey, tell me more about each committee agenda item and what it is you plan to talk about,” I can’t do so.

Let’s use the Constitution and Bylaws agenda for example.  The first agenda item is this:  “Alignment of Governance Manual Sections1-2.3.A.2 and 1-2.3.C.3.”  Those two sections of the Governance Manual deal with the duties of the Executive Committee.  When I read them, on the surface they don’t appear to conflict, so I’m not exactly sure what types of editing the committee might want or need to do.  The committee might have in mind a very benign modification that would have little to no bearing on the workings of the board.

Or, the committee might have in mind a wholesale modification in the Governance Manual.  Another way to look at those two sections of the Governance Manual is that they are very much in conflict.  One section says that the Executive Committee has the authority to act on behalf of the full Board when the full Board is not in session.  The other section outlines the specific duties of the officers (Executive Committee Members) and outlines which duties require full board support.

Or, they could have something entirely different in mind.  I have no idea from that one-line agenda item.  None.

See what I mean?  An agenda like that obfuscates things.  Pretty much all of the agendas are written that way.  Now, of course, I could take the time to contact each committee to ask about each agenda.  But that’s not the point – the point is that as a member, I shouldn’t have to.

The question is how did we get to this point?  Are these agendas so vague purely out of apathy?  Ignorance? Careful planning?  Some combination of all of the above?  I imagine it’s the latter – I’ve worked long enough in corporate America to know that most people don’t know how to write a useful and meaningful agenda that actually helps people to plan for a meeting.  They think of agendas not as communication tools, but as to-do-lists.

The USPA board could go a long way towards opening up to its members if these agendas were used as a way to share with the membership what the board is considering.  Force a new format (for example):

  • Topic: Review Alignment of Governance Manual Sections 1-2.3.A.2 and 1-2.3.C.3.
  • Issue to be discussed: Do the sections conflict in a way that prevents the Officers of the Executive Committee from exercising their duties when the full board is not in session.
  • Goal for the meeting: Determine if these sections need to be rewritten and if so, rewrite sections and prepare motion for presentation to the full board.

The Safety & Training Committee agenda comes closest to this type of agenda format (nice job, Todd!).  I can read through that agenda and have a really good idea of what that committee is going to talk about, though some of the agenda items lack detail.

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