RAC is a member-driven, non-profit, association. It’s run by the members for the members. It’s your RAC.
So how come seven directors and 11 executive members (of which I’m one) think it’s okay to meet in private and discuss the future of your organization without you there?
If RAC was a private, commercial interest where the open discussion of decisions could have economic impact on the bottomline or involved the professional reputations of staff then closed meetings would be absolutely appropriate. But a closed meeting of a public organization is just plain wrong. There may be an argument made that the board and executive members won’t feel free to speak their minds in an open meeting. And to that I say nuts.
Here’s what we’re going to talk about this October in Ottawa: What is working and what’s not working and then, if we’re lucky and enlightened, we’ll talk about what RAC could look like if we waved a magic wand and we could get everything we wanted for RAC. Then the next part of the discussion would be around how we could, in this time and place, realize those visions. In other words we’d turn these dreams into SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, tangible or timely – I used to teach this stuff to business folks).
So why would anyone want to keep a discussion about our future secret?
I would think they are afraid of something. Maybe it’s a fear of upsetting some members whose performance has been less than stellar (I’m a candidate for these sort of comments.) but surely men and women with our long histories in business and personal relationships can find ways of pointing out the places we could do better without shooting the hapless volunteer who tried his or her best but fell short? And if some folks think they need to move on or better yet, step up, then let’s let them 🙂
We do this all the time in Toastmasters International where I’ve been a member for over 15 years now. We offer critical comments on all the speeches given in an evening in a way that points out opportunities and is laced with constructive comments for improvement while remaining positive and supportive. That’s the way we should offer our insights to our own volunteers who will get the message in a way that’s palatable and positive.
Speaking of Toastmasters: First Oakville Toastmasters Club is one of the largest and oldest in Canada. We’ll likely hit 60 members this year (most clubs struggle to hold 20) and everyone of those members has a vote on every issue that arises during the year. The executive team of seven has the responsibility of making sure the meetings happen and the program works. They can spend money from their approved budget and make day-to-day decisions without prior approval but anything involving money or a substantive change to our program requires the approval of the membership.
During every two-hour Toastmaster meeting, the clubs hold a 10 to 15 minute timed business meeting where motions are raised, seconded, discussed and voted upon and then implemented. Nothing is done behind closed doors as all executive and special committee meetings are open to all.
Now RAC is a national organization but I’ve been advocating that the monthly teleconference calls be held online using something like Go-To-Meeting which would allow the board/executive team to meet while anyone else could listen in.
Same thing goes for the meeting in October. You should be there either in person or via a live streaming feed on the Internet. The RAC board and executive have nothing to hide. And by holding a closed meeting they are creating a mystery where no mystery exists.