Thursday, May 02, 2013

My own Views as of now



You can't touch this for just $500.
I have said from the beginning, it is not the money.  $100K can seem like a lot, or a little depending on the overall budget.  The UUA's budget is beyond the scope of my comfort, so I am not focusing on that. 

The money is the bright shiny object that distracts us from the more important questions: like the $500 hammer that gets used to rile up the rubes.

The Board and the Administration have been at odds over something about governance and their roles for quite awhile.  We are approaching the end of Gini Courter's term as Moderator.  We need a candid summary and analysis of what has been happening within the circles of top leadership in the UUA.  While she is not the only actor, she has been a key one, and she is being replaced by someone else, of all of our choosing.  So, we need this info.  That we have come to a point when the Board considers not recommending a budget to GA, something isn't right.  

As far as I understand it, I am a fan of policy governance. I have been on boards of organizations, as well as a parish minister, so I know how difficult it is for a Board have a critical and independent view of how well the work is being done.  The Board is dependent on the staff for the basic facts of the organizations life.  So, what kind of reports a Board asks for is really important.  The staff has to be free to do its work with creativity, so the boundaries and rules have to clear: policies.    

I don't see that the fact that the UUA President is elected, and not hired by the Board, to be an obstacle to it.  Anybody who has ever held the power to hire and fire knows how unimportant it is in all but the most extreme cases.  Youi don't build an effective team by threatening to fire people.  Leadership, persuasion, example, respect, gratitude all matter more.  So I don't think that Policy Governance, per se, is the problem, or that it can't work in our structure. 

But something has been an obstacle to effective and inspired leadership of the UUA.  Given what I know about the intelligence, experience and social skills of our leaders, this is surprising.  I don't think that it is a relational problem, (people can't get along, or understand each other) or a technical problem (which is how the consultant is being described -- someone to help the administration learn how to do what it is supposed to be doing.)  So what is the problem? 

I don't know.  I don't think anybody really knows right now.  I have my theories, but they are the same theories that I have about everything, so they are probably wrong.  

2 comments:

Clyde Grubbs said...

I agree.

Nothing the Board does, nor the Moderator does prevents the President from being President. And we elect the President to inspire, lead and artculate the vision. And each adminsitration finds that the bureaucracy is like a ocean liner and is hard to turn.

The power to make organizational changes would require the BoT and President visioning and restructuring together based on a common vision shared by the Association.

Sarah Stewart said...

Although I'm on the board, I had to leave our last meeting early to attend to family demands. I wasn't in the executive session on Sunday morning.

But I wish I had been, because I think the thing that is missing is a space for the administration and the board to speak frankly to one another.

I agree with Jake and Clyde that the problem is not relationships, in the sense that changing any of the personalities present will not solve the problem.

But in another sense the problem is relationship. A conflict is one way of having a relationship, sometimes a fruitful one, and the board and the president are not able, right now, to engage the conflict between them. We can't be in right relationship because we resist having our conflict in the public square. So when the issues before the board enter into the realm of the board-president relationship, I believe that can be seen as a personnel issue and good cause for executive session.

Conflict is not the enemy. Avoiding it is.