Matty Bowers 2015 Q&A: Transparency

A number of candidates cited the issue of Board transparency in their manifestos. What does a transparent Board look like to you, and what specific steps would you take to ensure the Board you serve on is a transparent Board? / Many candidates talked about the need for transparency for the board to volunteers/members. What does your vision for transparency entail?

Board has regular meetings which are divided into two sections: Open Board, where Board meets in a public chat room which everyone can attend, then Closed Board. After the open portion is finished, Board members move over to a locked chat room that only they can access. In the past year, very little Board activity has happened in Open Board. Since last month, all Open Board meetings have been cancelled.

I would like to advocate that more activity take place in Open Board, not Closed. Matters that are handled via email or outside of Board meetings should be announced or updated during Open Board so that everyone can follow what is happening around the organization. Comprehensive minutes should be posted promptly after each meeting.

The OTW sends out a monthly newsletter; committees and Board are encouraged to draft a quick summary of what’s been happening the past month. With a few rare exceptions, Board never participates in this; I’d like to change that. Monthly Board updates should be mandatory.

Due to legal reasons, internal transcripts of meetings are purged every year. However with a lack of consistent and comprehensive information posted to internal and external locations, details of Org interactions can be lost to the abyss. This leaves voters with a dearth of details when attempting to learn about the Org, and in this situation, candidates. What internal remedies would you suggest? And what would you suggest voters do in the mean time in lieu of relying on the rumor mill (FFA & emails) and digging through various social media sites?

Documentation is key here. I think every committee and Board needs to complete a yearly report which clearly outlines issues faced and decisions made, as I’ve been doing each year for Abuse. We also need to be better at recording both the good and the bad. Several committees have started writing up ‘lessons learned’ type reports, which are excellent ways of documenting both in a positive manner. I think this is an example Board would do well to follow.

For now, the best way to learn about candidates is by reading these Q&As and attending the chat sessions we’ll all be attending. It’s not a perfect solution, but it may have to do until we can make some serious structural changes in the organization.

The current Board has had frequent issues keeping an available agenda for their weekly meetings, which were often cancelled or cut short due to lack of quorum or matters to discuss. What do you think the purpose of open Board meetings is, and what would you change about the current setup?

Ideally, Open Board meetings should be held so that volunteers and members can keep informed about new and ongoing issues, and understand how and why specific decisions are being made. They also give everyone a chance to ask questions, share information related to the discussion, and ensures a certain degree of accountability.

In a perfect world, the agenda for each Board meeting should be posted 24-48 hours before the meeting which should be scheduled conveniently so that all, or most, Board members can attend. If, for some reason, people’s plans change and there won’t be a quorum, then it would be a good idea for those who are available to work on things like updating documentation, writing blurbs for the newsletter, talking with volunteers/members who arranged their schedule to attend, etc.

I’d also be interested in trying to integrate voice chat meetings occasionally. I think being able to chat directly as a group will increase efficiency and help Board members build trust as they get to know each other better.