Dan Lamson 2015 Q&A: Retreat

Note: Dan has withdrawn from the race, but he completed his answers before withdrawing, so they will be posted to the site.

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 think they are very valuable to the org, and help plan for the future. I was not at any previous meetings, but I will be attending 2015’s as one of DevMem’s chairs. From everything I heard from participants, it was a very good experience and much was accomplished. Email and chat are great, phone calls are better, but doing in person meetings is often the best way to get things done quickly, and to cover a lot of issues. I also find that when I do things via email, I can get distracted by the internet or other things. At an in-person meeting, you are focused on the matter at hand and you figure it out.

Most orgs have in-person meetings all the time, because of their setup at brick and mortar locations. The OTW is different and so has to operate differently. From most of the reports I heard from the previous retreats, everything went well and a lot was accomplished. Further, it’s much easier to hate someone you are not in front of. These kinds of meetings in person can be healing in relationships.

You mentioned North America as a location, and I would not be averse to seeing it elsewhere, as long as cost is keyed into it.

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

This is a complicated question. Ideally all chairs would attend because all committees deserve to be represented, but there’s only so much time in a day and a weekend. I like how each retreat we’ve had so far has kind of focused on various things. This is how they’ve been done in the past. In 2014 it was about the strategic plan and this year will have SP as well as some other things, like building development and budgeting. So as it stands, when the meeting’s theme falls under the purview of a certain committee, then they would be invited.

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?

If you couldn’t tell from my previous answers, I think the retreat is pretty important. Costs seem high, but when you think you have people coming from all over the world, it could be worse. A lot of people give up their time to be there, and none of the board or volunteers made money on it. So, I do not have any ideas on how to make it more cost effective, but if anyone does, I’d be happy to talk about it.