July 3, 2014 in News
A few months ago, LCN launched its first election, and the participation of the LCN community enabled a Board of Directors to be voted in! We learned a lot in the process of organizing the election, and we wanted to share this learning so others could benefit as well.
Our Network Organizer Ruby Sinreich took the lead on writing this report with great support and advice from Dan Grandone, Marshall Ganz, Sung E Bai, and the Board candidates. We hope you find it useful.
The year 2014 was a turning point in the building of the Leading Change Network based on the work done over the past two years — discerning the purpose this network can serve, how it could be structured to serve that purpose, what kind of programs could begin to fulfill that purpose, and what kind of leadership will be required to make it happen.
We determined that the leadership required to enable the network to achieve its purpose needed to include those who are leading the work in the field, those who are leading work of the network, and those whose perspective, experience, or understanding can move things forward. We needed clarity about where responsibility rests for governance of the network, including overall strategy, staffing and funding. We needed a structure that makes the governance body accountable to the constituency itself.
Therefore, we proposed creating a Board of Directors that has primary responsibility for the governance of the network. We created a nominations and elections process that (a) ensured that those on the Board will be accountable to the network members as a constituency, and (b) ensured we have a wide range of voices on the Board (those doing the work in the field, those doing the work of the network, those with fundraising expertise, etc.). We created a dual elections and appointment system that allows for this, and an Election Committee to oversee LCN’s first board elections.
31 candidates were nominated by the Network Leadership Team as having met the Board candidate criteria. 17 of those decided to officially run for election. The election took place over 2 months from candidate nomination to announcement of results. The process was designed to engage current members in a conversation about the future direction of the network, its priorities and leadership. We developed plans and adapted as we learned along the way. We investigated different online voting platforms, and experimented with different formats for candidate information and forums. We continued to strategize around the challenges of organizing real-time events in a global community.
367 network members representing 44 countries voted (7% of our mailing list), electing 7 new board members. Through this election we learned there are many active members in the network, many of whom need to be engaged more deeply, and a whole other group that still need to be organized into a real constituency. We observed during this process that the concept of network “membership” is still fairly nebulous for many people. This reinforces our intention to develop more clarity and structure around network membership in the coming year. We also saw that a gap existed between the online events we organized and membership interest. This is a key learning point for us as we plan to begin building a new web site to better serve this online community. Through this first democratically-run election, we provided a platform for our growing community to hear its own voice and laid the foundation for the governance body of this network being accountable to the constituency itself.