Friday, July 23, 2010

How I Prepared to Run for the PASS Board

The Boy Scouts have “Be Prepared” as their motto and, while I was never a scout, I think it’s always a good idea.  So when I started thinking about running for the PASS Board, I decided to find out what being on the board entails and what characteristics make a good board member. Well, the only way to find out is to ask.  So I put together an set of questions that I asked several past and present board members.  Here are the questions I asked and common answers:

  1. How long did you serve and it what capacities? – Most served for multiple terms and had opportunities to serve beyond being a director-at-large
  2. How much time did you spend on PASS tasks (use whatever interval you want)? – It depended upon the portfolio or position they were in.  During slow times about 4 hours per week and busy times up to 20 hours per week.
  3. What did you like about serving on the board? – There were 2 themes in the answers I got.  The first was that you get to work with intelligent and passionate people.  The second was the feeling of accomplishment when something you worked on happened.
  4. What did you find to be the most challenging part of being on the board? – The theme here was about how there were so many good ideas and so little time and resources. 
  5. What would you recommend a prospective/new board member do to prepare for serving on the board? – 2 themes emerged here.  The first was make sure you work on your soft skills (communication, cooperation, collaboration) and the second was to get as much experience and knowledge of PASS as possible.
  6. What type of personality do you think is needed to be a successful board member? - The common themes in the answers I got to this question were:  passionate, team player, collaborative, knowing when to hold firm to your principles and ideas and when to compromise.
  7. What was/is the process for determining priorities?  Then ways you think it could be improved. – Answers were really varied on this one depending on when you were on the board.  A general theme is that the Executive Committee sets the guidelines for discussion and priorities are managed by the board within the confines of the budget.  Most were happy with the way it worked.
  8. If you could make one change to the operation/structure of the board based on your experience what would it be and why? – A common theme here was that the board is currently too involved in the implementation details and not doing enough strategic planning.   Essentially the board should be setting strategy and goals and HQ should be implementing the strategies and goals determined by the board.

In addition to these questions I also am good friends with Andy Warren who is completing his first term on the board, so we have talked extensively about what it takes to be on the board and I’ve seen first hand the time he puts into the board.  I did not want to just jump into running for the board without knowing what it took in terms of time and effort.  So I made the effort to understand what the board is involved in, how much time it takes, and how much work it is.  After all this research, much thought, prayer, discussion with my wife, and discussion with my boss, I decided that I have the qualities it takes to be a good board member and that PASS is important enough to me to make the time to do it. 

If I’m make the slate and am elected, do I expect it to always go smoothly?  Of course not, but I’m going in with my eyes wide open because I’ve done the research to know what it’s like.

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