March, 2006
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



ASHI Board Service and Effective Leadership

JD GREWELL

In the January 2006 ASHI Reporter, there is a list of the newly elected officers and directors. I noticed that biographical information for some of our leaders showed no national committee experience. To me, this was highly surprising. I know that the Nomination Committees use matrices for selecting the Officer and Director slates. Each matrix requests a listing of committee activities and experiences.

Committee experience is important for a variety of reasons. I know the recent Nominating Committees did perform due diligence by researching the volunteers seeking office. I was even more surprised to see the COR Speaker disagreed with the Nominating Committee and endorsed others for office.

The ASHI Strategic Plan (S/P) is part of the Knowledge-Based Governance (KBG) that was adopted by the ASHI Board of Directors a few years ago to give
structure and direction for the board, staff and the membership. Previously, the Board of Directors used each meeting’s agenda and general goals as a guide. Prior to adopting KBG, many directors initiated Motions that were arbitrary, occasionally confusing, or actually detrimental.

KBG placed much more responsibility on committees. The Board of Directors was to provide the oversight necessary to improve the Society by keeping its activities geared to the big picture of making ASHI synonymous with home inspecting.

The committees follow the developed Strategic Plan. There have been two such S/P task forces (2001 and 2003-4) gathered from ASHI leadership, staff and periodically, outside consultants. The goal is to produce coordinated actions between the committees to reach our collective objectives.    

Annual work plans are developed from the S/P. Each committee is assigned tasks, which are coordinated through quarterly progress reports to the Board of Directors, and quarterly teleconferences bringing together the committee chairs and their respective Board liaisons.

Only when a task is complete and fits with the assignment does a committee develop a Motion to the Board using a Motion Request Form. The form requires the stated Motion, the rationale, any anticipated impact on other committees, and financial concerns. This form requires a pro and con presentation as well. On occasion, a Motion may first require a review and feedback from the COR.

Service on a committee introduces our members to the work products that become Motions. Positions are negotiated and discussed. Research is performed and comparative analysis is reviewed. Votes are taken and Motions are drafted and formatted. Those who serve on committees or task forces are acutely aware of the personal sacrifice they put into improving our Society. The work that they perform is vital so that the Board of Directors does not waste its time doing committee work.
No Motion should come as a surprise because of the quarterly reports.

All of this takes leadership and dedication to be effective. It is up to the chair to engage all committee members. It is his or her responsibility to seek a resignation from nonparticipating committee members and to replace them with those who will participate. It would be a shame for nonproductive persons to later “claim” nonparticipation on a committee service as being valid.

I personally served on the Board of Directors for eight years. In addition, I also served as the chair for the By-Laws, Membership and Standards Committees for another eight years. I continue my service to ASHI today as a member of the By-Laws Committee. Over the past 16 years, I have also worked on a number of task forces. I am well aware of how much this experience has improved my understanding of the relationships for Knowledge Based Governance.  

To the best of my knowledge, no prior officer served without at least some prior committee experience. Does an absence of service on a committee detract from any member’s ability or dedication to be an Officer or Director? Not always, but without committee experience, those serving on the Board may lack a full understanding. It is up to the committees to get the grunt work that makes KBG feasible. It requires dedication to create timely and effective Motions. The Board of Directors is the ineffective place to debate committee work.

I strongly recommend changing the Officers ballot in the future, making specific committee experience for all those seeking office easier to view,  allowing the membership to more appropriately evaluate the slate.

If you, the voters, believe as I do that committee experience is something our officers and directors should have, take that extra step of clicking on the experience tab next to each name on the ballot, and factor what you find into your final decision.