Alex Tischer 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 not believe that there have been any noticeable results from any of the previous meetings. No great steps forward appear to have been made on any of the topics that were said to be discussed and I have not yet seen any of the documentation that was allegedly written at the first meeting. So far, my opinion is a very unfavourable one. Of course right about the time these questions will probably be published there will have been another meeting. Maybe there will be actual concrete announcements from that meeting other than a Board member resigning from their post shortly after. Until there is any proof of work done in person that couldn’t have been accomplished online, I’ll remain skeptical. I don’t doubt there could be hypothetical benefits to the idea. There just have been none so far.

How would you as a Board member, go about choosing who and what committees are invited to the annual retreat?
I would draw up the agenda for the meeting with specific goals to be achieved during the retreat and then approach the committees that are involved with the items that are to be discussed — especially with the concrete aspect of their implementation, as the Board tends to be removed from these matters and it’s hard to account for this in plans without any representation from the executive side of the organisation. Hypothetically inviting all committees just to have them there would be nice for representation, but at the current cost for those retreats, I would try to only invite people that are actively most relevant for the discussion.

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?

To find a more cost-effective way, I would like us to investigate other options than in-person meetings again. We are an all-online org: online meetings via Skype or some other teleconferencing software should not be beyond us.

Even my professional organisations manage to hold all but their legally-required AGM via the internet, and those are not tech-minded people in the least. Even if we someday have, say, a retreat where they’re having a debate or presentation about an issue relevant to the whole OTW, why not stream it to everyone instead of limiting it just to attendees? That would mean we would need to fly fewer people and could include far more.