Matty Bowers 2015 Q&A: Retreat

In 2013 and 2014, the Board had in-person meetings in North America, and there will be another this October. What is your opinion on Board retreats and their outcomes so far?

I do think in-person meetings can be beneficial. However, I am not convinced they are necessary for the OTW at this point in time. As a chair and a volunteer on several different committees, I have yet to see any positive results from these retreats. The 2013 retreat was ostensibly to work on documentation for Board; this project has yet to be completed. The 2014 retreat was to focus on the Strategic Plan for the OTW; the timeline for this project has been delayed yet again due to feedback from chairs and volunteers. The 2015 retreat ended several days ago, yet no agenda, minutes, or other official documentation have been posted.

I would prefer we hold off on any further Board retreats until after we have evaluated their usefulness and investigated whether other options, such as voice/video chats, would be of more use. Not only would these be more cost-effective, they would also allow Board to invite a wider range of participants.

How would you as a Board member, go about choosing who and what committees are invited to the annual retreat?

If we do decide to continue holding annual Board retreats, I would like to change the timing so that incoming Board members, not outgoing, can attend. There is little point in spending donation money flying in Board members who will be exiting Board in a couple of months.

As it stands, only certain committees are invited to send representatives; this limits the number of perspectives that can be offered and can give the appearance of favoritism. In the future, I would prefer that Board invite all chairs and representatives to participate via voice/video chat during set sessions. This would cut down on costs and ensure that voices from all committees are heard, not just ones specifically chosen by Board.

Last year the board’s in person meeting cost $18,355.21, 17% amount of the OTW’s total expenses. Do you have any ideas how to do this meeting a more cost effective way going forward?

As noted above, I’d like to suspend Board retreats for the foreseeable future. I think holding regular voice/video chats would be more cost-effective and better serve both our volunteers and members. At the moment, I think the money spent on retreats could be put to better use.