[Foundation-l] Agenda set by Sue? (was Re: Pending Changes development update: September 27)

Michael Snow wikipedia at frontier.com
Thu Sep 30 04:35:52 UTC 2010

  On 9/29/2010 8:47 PM, Anthony wrote:
> On Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 2:55 AM, Erik Moeller<erik at wikimedia.org>  wrote:
>> the agenda for Board meetings is set by Sue
>> together with the chair of the Board and other Board members.
> It is?  Isn't that really really odd?
Maybe it's not the most artful way of characterizing things (certainly 
it would be wrong to assume that the order in which individuals are 
mentioned corresponds to their priority or influence over the agenda), 
but I didn't find it so bizarre that I would need to call it out for 
correction. Anyway, Erik did mention that he's not on the board nor 
involved in its meetings, and accurately directed people to the board 
(not Sue) as the proper channel for seeking the board's attention. Given 
his distance from the process (and how different the organization was 
when he previously served on the board), I'm not sure why you would 
expect him to provide authoritative pronouncements on such details. 
Moreover, as a member of the staff he reports to Sue, and experiences 
the work of the board through Sue, so it's natural for his perspective 
on the work of the board to be oriented that way.

The board chair ultimately sets the agenda for board meetings. In doing 
so, the chair follows the course the board has set for itself previously 
and relies on discussion with the vice chair and the executive director, 
along with input from the remaining board members. (This is how it 
worked when I was chair, and I expect current practice will not have 
changed too dramatically.) To the extent that issues the board needs to 
consider come to its attention through the staff or via day-to-day 
operations, obviously Sue would be the primary channel for that to 
happen, and such matters naturally are a significant piece of board 
business. That doesn't mean that Sue dictates the board's agenda, 
however. The board ultimately decides for itself what it needs to focus 
on, whether that's the recently completed strategic planning process or 
the current effort to sort out existing roles in the Wikimedia movement. 
It can also decline to pursue matters Sue has asked it to consider, 
though I must say that in my experience Sue was very good at maintaining 
an appropriate role relative to the board, and the idea of her diverting 
the board's agenda from where the board wanted to go is purely an 
imaginary problem.

--Michael Snow

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