[wplug-board] A quick reminder about the logistics of board meetings (and GUM business meetings, too...)

Pat Barron pat at lectroid.com
Mon Oct 14 00:39:28 EDT 2013

So, as Chair, it's technically my responsibility to keep meetings 
productive and on track - and to the extent we've had difficulty with 
that this year, mea culpa on that...

But in the interest of discharging that responsibility, I just wanted to 
pass on again this guidance about logistics of board meetings (and 
member business meetings at GUMs).

Organizational business meetings - the meetings the bylaws require us to 
have - are not appropriate forums for "brainstorming" or general 
ruminating.  It's just not a great use of the time, and it can get 
people frustrated (especially at member business meetings, I would 
suppose) not knowing if progress is being made, or what the "ending 
conditions" of the current discussion are, when we can move on to the 
next thing, etc.

Our organizational business meetings are really for 1) information 
distribution (reports of officers, etc.); 2) conducting debate about 
specific proposals; 3) making decisions on specific proposals.

So, just as a (contrived) example, rather than raising something at a 
board meeting like, "Let's discuss where we should hold the next GUM", a 
more appropriate thing to do would be, "I propose that we hold the next 
GUM at Location X"...  Then that can be debated, amended, and either 
voted up or down.  In other words, rather than raising a topic and 
saying, "Let's discuss this", instead raise the topic and say, "... and 
this is my idea for addressing it."  That gives a starting point to 
conduct debate, and it's a lot more efficient too.  If you think an idea 
will generate debate that people might be prepared for at the time 
(because they'd need to do research, etc.), give a "preview" before the 
meeting - via the mailing list, or whatever - of what you plan to 
propose, and any pointers you have handy to information on the topic so 
that the members (the board, or general members of the organization, as 
appropriate) may do their own research in advance, before a decision is 

The flip side of this is, general discussion about a topic does not need 
to be restricted to scheduled organizational meetings.  The thing that 
needs to happen at scheduled organizational meetings is the making of 
the actual decision.  But general discussions, brainstorming, and 
"kicking ideas around" can (and should) happen outside of scheduled 

And of course (particularly with board meetings, since we don't have a 
technical presentation right after like with do with GUMs), once the 
actual business is concluded and the meeting adjourned, people can hang 
out afterwards and kick ideas around, have general discussions, etc. - 
or not, if their schedule doesn't permit.  This doesn't need to (and, in 
fact, should not) happen within the formal structure of the business 

Now, I will say - we've done a lot better with this in recent memory, in 
terms of keeping stuff efficient and on track.  I just wanted to send 
out this reminder, because I don't want to backslide...  ;-)


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