One of the conversations I had at SQLSaturday Austin was about Chapters, governance, and edge cases. To really condense and generalize, most Chapters are fairly small in terms of attendances, assets, and revenue. I’d bet it’s a handful or two at most that have bothered to incorporate and without having access to solid numbers, I’ll get that the average attendance is 10 to 30 people month over month. The governance side of is typically informal and is at the discretion of the group (mostly). It’s pretty rare to have the luxury of multiple people wanting to lead the group!
Make a mental leap for a minute to assume that there is a way to qualify voters to prevent someone doing a hostile takeover or otherwise stuffing the ballot box. Got that?
So why do I care about elections? Why should you? Why should PASS?
- Governance is governance. Dispense with minutes, bank account, voter registration and all the rest, it seems like the one thing a group should do is elect (and possibly re-elect) someone to drive.
- It gives the group the ability to replace a leader that is failing them
- It gives the group the ability to replace someone who thinks they should be the leader for life (aka, it’s MY chapter because I started it)
- It time boxes the leader. They can set goals for a term, think about whether they have the energy for another term, etc.
- It could/should encourage thoughts around growing other volunteers and having a succession plan
- Nothing about an election stops a leader from running for re-election, continuing to serve, etc. I’m not proposing term limits!
Most chapters do fine with close to zero rules. The edge cases of a failing leader or one who won’t let go are just that, edge cases, but they do happen. Having just a hint of process allows the group, or PASS, to step in if things get off track. As it is now, if something goes wrong and its raised to PASS, the answer has been something along the lines of ‘that’s a local matter’. I’ve witnessed a conversation along those lines at a Board Q&A.
This isn’t fully baked. The existing chapter leaders do a lot with a little and I love them for it. PASS shouldn’t make life harder for Chapters, or make rules just because. But here’s my question – why would it be a bad thing to require Chapters to hold an election at least once every x years and audit that it was done? Would that be such a leap? Why wouldn’t we do that? Aside from adding ‘one more thing’, is there a real downsize that I don’t see?