My friend Jack Corbett returned to blogging recently and one of his comments was not wanting to be the guy that just complains about things he think PASS doesn’t do (or do well). It reminded me of a comment I saw on Twitter a while back, that the poster trusted the Board to do the right thing. Those two comments sparked me to write some stuff I’ve been thinking on for a while. [Note: I made minor edits after the original post.]
PASS is better than it was five years ago and that is due to a lot of factors, but I think the main one is the community it serves has started to take ownership of the organization that serves it. I think PASS can do a lot more, but it won’t happen without vision and discussion and argument, because arriving at a vision and executing on it is hard stuff.
I believe that serving on any Board is hard work. I respect anyone who will step up and participate. I believe that most who serve have good intentions. None of that means that they will make good decisions. Or that I’ll agree with the decisions even if they are good ones. In more cases than you might expect there is no right decision. There is no right answer to whether the Summit should always be in Seattle (I think it shouldn’t, but that is what I think).
We elect people to the Board that are willing to serve, but often without the life experience needed to do well – it’s on the job training at its hardest. Experienced or not, incumbent or not, the Board can be a very insular environment. I don’t want the Board to make every decision based on polling data, but I don’t want them to ignore member sentiment either. They need to hear calm,reasoned opposing view points. They may or may not change their mind,but they make the decision with a deeper understanding of the problem. The best learn to listen and explore without becoming defensive or offended, the other ones – let’s call them the ones not as ready – can’t take the criticism and ignore it, labeling those delivering it as the “noisy few”.
For what it’s worth, think about volunteering to do something, putting in a lot of hours, and then having someone publicly criticize you. You did your best, donated hours, and you get…criticism? Can make it hard to want to do it again.
I have been and continue to be part of that noisy few, but I don’t do it lightly. If I want PASS to grow and mature so it can do the things I care about, I have to participate, and so do you some of you. That means some days I’m going to criticize decisions by the Board. I hope to be balanced, to find time time to write about good things too, and to find time to provide ideas, but I only have so much time and if I can only find time to write about a few things, it will be the things that concern me the most.
I’m very aware that it’s all too easy to complain too much, too loudly, and become the village crank. It can be a fine line to walk. It’s not easy to think about risking your reputation to write about things that perhaps few care about. I’ll tell you this – if you take the time to participate and I think you’re crossing the line, I’ll email you. I hope you’ll do the same for me.
If we – that’s me, and you reading this – sit on the bench, then we deserve what we get, because it’s not fair or realistic to think that we’ll just elect three people each year and they’ll figure the rest out. No one is going to come by and give you a “Community Leader” pin and authorize you to have a voice – you have to decide you’re a leader and lead. That can be a tough step to take, but do you expect less from a leader? Lots of ways to serve without being on the Board.
That’s a lot for one post and a bit of a ramble, but I hope it will get you thinking about your role in our community.