PASS Update #52 (ERC)

We’re doing weekly calls for the ERC (election review committee) and we seem to be making some progress. This past week we came up with a good outline of what we hope to see as the process for selecting the nomcom (look for a post from Bill Graziano for details), and you can from that guess that we plan to retain the nomcom as part of our recommendations back to the Board.

My focus has been thinking about what matters when evaluating candidates, because to a degree we’re trying to predict success. I’ve got about a 50% average on picking employees, so I’m not sure that I can do much better with picking Board members. But skill or not, there’s merit to making it clear which attributes we value, and giving the nomcom very clear guidance on how the attributes are scored and weighted. What I hope we’ll wind up with is a process that:

  • Allows potential candidates to easily self-assess if they meet the minimum qualifications (and yes, the hard part is describing those)
  • Allows us to score candidates in a close to objective manner in most areas. For example, if we include education we might award 1 point for High School, 2 points for two year degree, and perhaps cap it at 3 for a 4 year degree or more. For things like leadership it might be 1 point for each 12 months in a management/leadership position, with a max of x points, and it must have been within the last x years.
  • Allows our nomcom to add a portion of the overall score based on their impressions during an interview. Not everyone shines under stress, not every nomcom member will see everyone the same way. Maybe this is 20% of the score, but it’s not 80%.
  • Takes the scores and then puts the top 3*slots on the slate

That’s not a huge change from last year, but I think it’s really going to add a lot of depth and structure to the “process”. What we want is for the Board (and by extension, the members) to tell the Nomcom the attributes it values and how they want them evaluated. It’s got to be more than “pick the ones you think best”. Even with these changes it’s really important that we get a diverse Nomcom that’s vested in the health of PASS overall, and I think we have good ideas for you on that.

There are two places where I’m pushing for change. The first is that we need a safety valve, a way to bypass the Board and the nomcom to a degree, to make sure that if the members want change, they have a way to do it. My proposal is that of the candidates who passed the minimum qualifications but did not make it to the final slate we’ll have a vote by the members (I don’t know how else to do it) to the slate. It’s essentially a write-in, with the pre-requisite that you have to meet the minimums and do the work to fill out the application, which makes sure that we get candidates that are interested and viable.

The other one is removing the requirement that sitting Board members go through the nomination process for re-election. It takes time, and if they were qualified before, reasonably they still are. It’s both their time and the time of the nomcom, and it’s tough to imagine a time when the nomcom would not put a sitting board member on the slate. Then they get to run on their record and the members decide. Is this right? I argue with myself on it! I’ve been through it this past year and didn’t mind paying my dues, but was it worthwhile? I don’t think it was, but I’m sensitive – perhaps overly so – to the perception that we’re trying to make it harder to change by making it easier to maintain the status quo, if that makes any sense.

We’ve got a lot more ideas than that, and a lot of discussion, none of that is set yet. Doing it by phone is slow and mildly painful. Good discussion, great differing points of view, but no problems working together. I just wish we’d been able to work it out to spend a weekend working on this in one room. The hard part is that some ideas need time to grow, so doing it all in a weekend would have been unlikely.

As we talk about our ideas for recommendations I’m trying to look at the entire stack. It’s not enough to just fix one thing or tweak one thing, we have to try – as best we can – to look at the entire stack and ask if it’s rational. I want it to be clear and simple, if not easy, for someone to look at the requirements and decide to become a candidate, and I want them to be able to clearly understand how we evaluate and rank them. In the end we may not satisfy everyone about why we value x more than y, but we’ll have it up on the board,and we can revisit each year and tweak as we learn lessons. In fairness we’ve tried to do that the past two years, but never with the big picture view we’re trying to do this year.

I’ve probably left you with more questions than less, but wanted to let you know we’re working on it and I think that we’re making progress. Post questions if you have them and I’ll do my best to answer!

0 thoughts on “PASS Update #52 (ERC)”

  1. Question on your last bullet point, “top 3*slots on the slate”, is that saying that if 2 slots are open in the Board, there will be up to 6 candidates on the slate (assuming 6 meet criteria)?

    Or is it saying that they’ll only put the top 3 on the slate?

  2. Thanks for the update Andy.

    I think it’s worth the perception-change to have sitting PASS Board members go through the process. One reason: There are changes/tweaks to the upcoming process this year that were not present in previous years. Having all candidates – incumbents and new – go through the same process levels the playing field some. And it combats the perception that members can vote for anyone – so long as the sitting Board approves of their candidacy. This last point is, in my opinion, the most devastating and indefensible of recent elections.

    Other than that, it sounds good. Thanks for the transparency on this.

    Just my $0.02…

    Keep up the good work!


  3. Andy l, are you saying you think at some point existing bod members wouldn’t make the top 3* positions?

    I know now there’s a chance I’ll look like I’m protecting myself, or other existing members but,
    I’ve thought that existing bod members shouldn’t be put through nom com since I sat on nom com years ago, at that time it didn’t make sense to me because I think it would be nearly impossible for the nom com to tell anyone on the board “thanks for your volunteer service the last 2 years but, we don’t want the voters to have a chance to elect you again”.

    Yeah yeah I can hear you saying it already,” but Allen, the nom com has told plenty of people they couldn’t be elected in the past”

    sure I know that but that’s in the past, let’s picture how this will work in the future. (please)

    To put it in perspective, this is a lg amt of work for all involved, id guess it’s probably around 15 or 20 hours work in all for a candidate to go through the nom com process (all people involved). That’s a substantial investment in time to what end?

    All of that said I’m all about understanding perceptions, and if it means a better perception of the new process, then leave existing bod members in, that time would be well spent to insure the community believes in the process

    Andy w, thanks for writing this up. Great to see the ERC is making some progress. I’d be interested in knowing if the logistics of a “write in vote” for the slate has been discussed? I like that idea, as long as the vote is easily accessible and what the minimum vote % is well documented

  4. Allen, I see a couple different pieces:

    1. It’s hard to imagine someone who passed the screen and got elected could someone now NOT meet the criteria. Possible, but fair? Would we grandfather them in?

    2. I think it’s possible, perhaps even probable, that incumbents would score well, but no guarantee that they would be the top scores, or even in the Top X. But if we don’t score them, are we automatically committing to putting them on the slate even if we have “better” scoring candidates?

    3. Would be there be a time/circumstance when a board member simply did nothing or worse and the nomcom wished to not present them as a candidate a second time? Say they came to zero meetings. Is that a job for the nomcom, or up to the voters to sort out the slate?

    I admit the time issue is compelling. If it’s a pro forma process (and it didn’t seem that way this past year) then why do it? Comes back to whether there are conditions that the nomcom would use. In practice I’d never want it to come to that, whether they tried or not, I’d rather have a quiet talk and say “enough” rather than publicly say that someone did nothing.

  5. I’m glad that you are keeping the NomCom, as I think it has it’s place. I’ll be very interested to see how it is composed this time.

    I’m on the fence about sitting board members going through the process. I can see why it might not be necessary, but I can also see value in making them think about staying on the board.

    To respond to #3 in Andy W’s last comment: There should be expectations for a board member to attend a certain # of meetings in a year and if they don’t meet those expectations they should be removed from the board anyway. If you make 0 meetings then it shouldn’t have to go to the NomCom or the voters, the rest of the board should boot them and bring on someone who’ll do the job!

  6. Andy,

    Thanks to you and the ERC for your continued work on the election process.
    I don’t see a point to having existing board members go through the voting process unless their terms are up. Seems like a waste of time and energy. If they are not doing their job then the other board members should deal with them.
    I don’t agree with presenting only the top 3 (or some other nember) to the voters. If 10 candidates all meet the minimum standards then the voters should be allowed to vote on any of them. Let’s make this a fair and open election.

  7. Jack, in theory I agree with you, the problem is that under Illinois law where we’re incorporated the removal criteria isn’t simple, to the point that right now it’s just about impossible to remove someone, because it requires a vote by the members. In practice I’d hope that in the worst case someone would be quietly encouraged to resign to pursue other interests or whatever. Either way it’s not to be done lightly, I’d be really reluctant to do something that could permanently affect someones career over a volunteer assignment. It’s tough, we need accountability, but has to be tempered just a bit.

    It’s the less extreme cases where the voters need to make sure they are informed. Don’t just vote for the incumbent, look at what they said they would do, what they did do, and decide if they’ve earned the right to try another term.

  8. Dave, thanks for saying thanks, and for taking time to help me understand a different view point.

    Part of what I (we..the ERC) think about is logistics. Imagine we had 100 qualified candidates, does it make sense to do a phone interview for all 100? Can our members realistically assess and make a good pick when there are a 100 bios to read, 100 answers to the Election HQ questions, etc?

    To me, that’s two good reasons to set some kind of limit. Could it be 4x instead of 3x? Sure, glad to consider variations on that. Is planning for 100 worst case? Yes, just as we need a plan for if we only get 3 candidates for 3 positions – would suck, but what can you do?

    We considered the equivalent of a primary, but that feels heavy for this, and we’ve still got the issue of how do the voters choose from among a 100 (in the worst case).

    We need a process that works for the reasonable case, but handles the edge cases. Even with 20 candidates, that’s a lot of time to interview and score and all the rest. Maybe the interviews coudl be shorter.

    Anyway, think on that and let me know what you think, good conversation to have.

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