Dan Lamson 2015 Q&A: OTW Culture and Communication, Group 2

Note: Dan has withdrawn from the race, but he completed his answers before withdrawing, so they will be posted to the site.

What in your opinion are three key aspects in which the Board needs to improve with regards to its interactions with OTW volunteers? What would you personally do to improve them?

Communication – I think sometimes we all get too close to an issue and we think we are being clear, but because of all our knowledge, it comes out confusing. I know I am guilty of this, but I try to do better. I think board sometimes just needs to focus on how they communicate and make sure all the info needed is there, so committees can move forward with what they need.

Planning – This one is tough because board has, for a long time, been going from fire to fire and putting them out. I think board has been stabilizing as time goes on, and there is less of this now, but because of its nature as more of an executive committee than a traditional board, it still happens. This will be helped with the hiring of executive staff to do much of the day to day work, which is one of the next logical steps for the org.

Transparency – The board moves in mysterious ways. Sometimes it has to because of confidentiality or whatnot, but this ties in with communication. I feel that we need to demystify the inner workings of board, and will work to do so if elected.

For the past several years, candidates who were later elected (or allowed due to uncontested election) have outlined several goals to improve the environment of the Board, the dynamic between the Board and staff, and other aspects of the OTW environment. But reports are that, despite this, things are not improving. Why do you think this is, and what steps will you take to stick to the goals you’ve outlined in this area if elected to the Board?

I do think it has gotten better, over all. There are still times when I look at board and wonder what is going on, but I understand that their hands are often tied and they can’t speak of certain things and they know more then I do.

I think a lot of the disagreements come down to personalities. People clash and fight, often not over OTW ideals or issues, but because they don’t like each other, and have a history.

I can work with anyone and I will do so, even if we do not get along. I do not have a ‘nemesis’ in the org, or anyone who I can’t stand so much I refuse to work with them. I like most people I’ve met and worked with, and I probably don’t know many of folks out there well enough to dislike them.

I approach this process with an open mind and an open heart and I willing to work with anyone, and I think it will be a grand adventure to do so. As I’ve said in other questions, my philosophy is that we can disagree without being disagreeable and I’ve found that people living by this creed often can get a lot done. I hope to help bring that attitude to the board and to the org as a whole.

There have been reports from past directors and from both current and past volunteers and staff that the Board spends more time on petty disputes with each other and on targeting staff and volunteers who question their decisions than actually caring about the welfare of the organization. Whether it is true or not, the perception is there and it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the organization or the Board. How might you work to change this perception (or reality) and begin rebuilding trust between the Board and relevant constituencies?

I think the best way to move past this perception is to live the words you speak. I am willing to work with anyone who wants to help the org and be productive. I will be open and accepting of others and their ideas, especially those I disagree with. I will disagree without being disagreeable. I will not lie. I will break down the walls that separate us. I won’t betray trusts. If we’re all just excellent to each other, even when we disagree, the world and the OTW will be a much better place.

It will take time, but you need to live by the words you speak. Your focus determines your state of mind and I will focus on working hard and doing right by the OTW, its mission and volunteers. I will live by these words.