On List Decisions Policy
approved by board July 2006
Issues come up often enough that quarterly board meetings need to be supplemented by other communication/decision process. Seamus requested board adopt a clear process to make communication/decisions by email effective and efficient. FG Board members are expected to do email. Process should make clear participation by all is desired, and that silence may be misinterpreted so all members should make concerted effort to participate. Members who will be out of email range for more than a few days should alert the board list in advance. It is useful for the person doing the proposing to summarize and consolidate discussion points as the discussion moves forward.
The board has a limited set of members and its decisions may be legally or financially critical for the organization.
- Note: not sure how we should change this to suit the board-discuss list. This is my preliminary try. --Ideath 23:35, 2 November 2011 (UTC)
- Proposal email should
- Be sent to the board-discuss list unless the proposal absolutely requires the privacy of an executive session.
- Subject lines should draw attention to the message's task, including use of CAPS shouting things like IMPORTANT and/or ACTION REQUIRED.
- The body of the message should include links to relevant material and background information.
- Include a specific time should be announced for discussion and decision, usually about a week (can be extended if extensive discussion needed)
- Specify what action would be required by this decision.
- Ask people to respond with clarifying questions if they have them.
- Ask people to respond with amendments, reservations and/or counter-proposals if they have them.
- In the next couple of days, board members should weigh in, even if their response is "I don't have time to write a response now" or "This sounds reasonable but I'm not sure I understand all the intricacies yet."
- As people discuss the proposal, they can suggest an amendment and restate the proposal. This is a mechanism for creating better solutions.
- When the agreed-upon amount of time has passed, ask for people whether they agree with the thrust of the proposal or not. People can respond by saying that they:
- agree with no reservations
- don't agree, but will stand aside and let the decision go forward
- don't agree and will block the decision
- When all board members have responded (or at least enough for quorum), list responses and next steps in an email.
- Action requires participation by quorum, consensus rules apply.
Any decision made on the list should be mentioned at the next board meeting and included in the minutes. The meeting can then support or reverse the decision.
In some cases reversing the decision is moot, because the action has already been taken and is over and done with. The meeting should at least record this fact and call for any relevant comments to be placed in the minutes for future reference.
if your group is trying to reach consensus via email, you may wish to adopt some of the elements of these policies, including
- clear subject lines
- defined timeline giving sufficient time for group members to have reasonably read and responded to messages
- clearly requesting participation and outlining requested action
- summarizing and restating