Efficient board meetings, revised

Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com
Fri Oct 15 15:34:09 UTC 2004

If we are not going to use IRC for interactive discussions, what is the 
point of IRC? Why not then simply vote via email or a web form?



Ian Jackson wrote:

>There's been some disagreement recently about the proper conduct of
>board meetings, and the role of IRC discussion.  I think the best way
>to settle this would be for the board to vote to affirm and update
>the `Efficient Board Meetings' resolution from last September, or, if
>the board disagrees with me, to explicitly overturn it or replace it
>with something else.
>So, here is a draft resolution, 2004-10-15.iwj.1, which updates and
>revises `Efficient Board Meetings' (2003-09-09.iwj.1).
>Significant changes:
> * No more last-minute agenda items.
> * Explicit statement that board members are expected to participate
>   in email discussions etc., not just meetings.
> * Some of the language toned down, and various parts rewritten.
> * `Date of next meeting' (section C, para 15 [1]) deleted.  There
>   wasn't a volunteer and the date of next meeting bit doesn't seem to
>   have been taking all that long recently.
>[1] For reasons that are unclear the website copy of 2003-09-09.iwj.1
>    has different numbering than my email copy!  I trust that this was
>    a mistake somehow.  Section C para 15 is what this was in my email
>    copy; on the web it's the final, unnumbered, paragraph.
>2004-10-15.iwj.1 Efficient Board Meetings
>1.  It is important that board meetings, which require simultaneous
>    presence of a quorum of the board, be short.
>2.  IRC discussions provide less easily read archives of discussions
>    than email archives, and require substantial efforts at redaction
>    to produce minutes.
>3.  IRC discussions are less accessible to people who are not available
>    at the time of the meeting than email.
>4.  IRC discussions are more prone to misunderstandings, accidental
>    offence, and personality clashes, than email.
>5.  On-line board meetings via IRC are a poor medium for
>    discussion for the reasons given above.
>6.  Board members should give due consideration to proposed decisions,
>    and reports, presented to the board.
>7.  Discussion at on-line real-time Board meetings of Software in the
>    Public Interest shall be limited to the minimum necessary, by the
>    specific measures below, and by the active cooperation of the Board
>    and others during the meeting.
>8.  The Board aims to be able, during the meeting itself, merely to
>    approve or decline proposals already worked out in detail in
>    advance.
>9.  Issues (other than short fixed routine items such as apologies) for
>    consideration by the Board at its next meeting shall be notified to
>    the Board, to the Secretary, and if confidentiality is not required
>    to the Members, at least 7 days in advance of the relevant Board
>    meeting.  Such notification shall include the text of any report to
>    the Board, or a draft of any proposed resolution by the Board, as
>    relevant.
>10. The Secretary shall include on the agenda of the meeting those
>    items which were notified in time, as described above.  Items
>    arising and notified less than one week ahead of the meeting will
>    be postponed until the next subsequent meeting.  However, if the
>    Secretary believes that it is necessary to consider an item
>    immediately, for example because it is urgent, it may still appear
>    on the agenda with less than 7 days' notice.
>11. During the 7 days prior to the meeting, Board members shall
>    consider and discuss the agenda items as notified.  Just as Board
>    members should attend Board meetings, as part of their duties as a
>    Board member they have a responsibility to participate actively in
>    the Board's email deliberations.  A board member who wishes to
>    raise an issue regarding an agenda item should do so as soon as
>    possible, and in any case aim to do so within 48 hours of the
>    notification.
>12. Where a formal report is to be made to the Board, but no specific
>    resolution is envisaged, the usual formal action to be taken by
>    the Board during the meeting will be to vote whether to accept the
>    report.  The person making the report should avoid elaborating on
>    the report during the meeting; any questions or updates should
>    have been dealt with by email during the preceding week.
>13. The meeting chair shall be responsible for enforcing the rules
>    above.
>14. The above rules may in any case be deviated from in case of
>    necessity, such as external deadlines, emergencies etc.
>15. Guests will not be asked to state their name during the meeting.
>    Instead, the Secretary shall start logging the channel 15 minutes
>    before the meeting, and guests will be asked to state their name
>    during that period, or when they arrive if they arrive later.
>16. This resolution supercedes and replaces 2003-09-01.iwj.1
>    `Efficient Board Meetings'.
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>Spi-general at lists.spi-inc.org

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