Board stupid (1)

Ok, sorry about the cliched title.

MyFootballClub members are currently going through the process of electing their Society board, which means they are deciding how they want to the society to run, and therefore, how they will make decisions about Ebbsfleet United. Nominations close on Tuesday, as well as the vote to decide how many board members we actually want to represent society members.

I always believed that the biggest unknown about MyFC was not raising funds, or persuading directors to sell up, or even the due diligence negotiations and restructure. It’s the challenge of getting 28,000 people to reach a majority decision, or to provide enough information for them to be able to make their choices, and aggregate those individual choices into a collective decision.

Unfortunately, because the website is still hampered by the forum and lack of structure, the Wisdom of Crowds remains drowned out by the noise of the mob. Worse still, there’s a “silent majority” who either don’t have the time or the inclination to get into repetitive arguments about minor and major details. Who can blame them when there is so much replication – dozens of threads debating essentially the same thing?
I’ll say more about the technical side later, but for now I want to concentrate on the Society Board.

The role and ideal makeup of the board is like everything else at MyFC, up for the vote, although there doesn’t seem to be much thought into the job description. There have been contemplative articles and discussions going back to August about how the society will work, but as I’ve said above, these are lost in a swamp of forum posts. This means that there are over 120 candidates available at last look, for a board that would contain up to 11 members.

Some are confused about the role of Chairman or are putting more weight on parts of candidates’ CV’s that I don’t think bear any relevance to the role of the board. Some seem to think that the board will actually be making the decisions on behalf of members, and as such are voting for the maximum 11 board members (possibly paid, possibly not) so that there is no concentration of power.

But it’s also important for the society board to be a reasonable size so that those at the coal face at Stonebridge Road build up a trust relationship with the people who talk their language. It’s importanpolitics, democracy, socialnetworking, web2.t that the board members can quickly confer via Skype conference or chat room. It’s important that members can keep tabs on the activities and decisions that the board are making on their behalf.

This is the way I see it working:

The board choose one of their number to be Chair, and this person would attend EUFC board meetings, and represent the members and the board. Specific items that need to be raised, discussed and voted for are done so at such meetings.

Everyday decisions do not need to go through the EUFC board, instead the people on the ground at Ebbsfleet could consult with the individual society board members when there is an issue that requires members input. So it makes sense for the board members, especially the Chair, to be knowledgable in a wide variety of different fields.

So my ideal board would have 7 people – I like the number and Christoper Allens’s article linking Dunbar’s number with optimum group size.There would be two people who would be available to attend EUFC meetings without impact on their schedule. Ideally someone older (i.e. less family/work commitments) with a broad understanding of various issues, and living reasonably close to the ground. Above all a good communicator. I say two, because there would be a need to deputise / cover, and provide continuity after annual elections. These would be the Chair and deputy Chair.

Two members should be experienced in IT projects, including software development, in addition to other skills. This may drop down to one once the site and infrastructure improves. No reason for the IT literate board members not to be the Chair as well, providing those requirements are fulfilled.

The rest of the board members should have experience or expertise in legal, financial, political, managerial issues. This doesn’t mean that any one board member has more weight than any other. I don’t see them actually making many decisions, so above all they have to be able to interpret on our behalf and communicate.

I think that natural leaders will continue emerge from the membership, providing that the site strucute allows their views to be heard, discussed and acknowledged. There are already several board candidates who are favourites because of their interaction with members on the forums. I would expect these people to work closely with the board in gathering opinion and explaining situations, thus reducing the us/them perception of the board.

There are others who are clearly knowledgeable in specific areas, and I would expect them to also be used by the board members to provide opinion on a particular subject. There may be issues that require some further work or research, and again, we’ve seen members get together and produce fantastic things like the Fleet Wiki, the MyFC Podcast, SJ’s cartoon, The Transport Plan, the weekly newsletter. This isn’t just the Wisdom of Crowds, it’s the the Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.

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About loidon

Technical support in an IT-centric academic department. Jack of all trades, master of none. Able to bluff on most subjects!

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