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Board of Governors Nomination - Stephen Ogden

edited May 2015 in Candidate

In May 2010 I submitted my nomination for the Board and am pleased to say I was elected to it on the 18th July. It is now coming up to five years that I have been a Governor and I hope to be able to serve another five years.

There is a lot that has happened over the past five years, we've come far as a Party. We have had some fun, and we have had our ups and downs. We've been down some rocky roads, but we are still around! I hope that the members have been happy with my work as a Governor and that they will be happy to be stuck with me for another term.

With a bit of a retrospective mood taking me, this is a good chance to look over answers to questions I was asked five years ago. From the first link above you can see all of them, I'm just picking a selection...

Q) Where do you see the party in 1 years time?

I worry that in the next few months the party will hit a rocky point. As we approach the one year anniversary of those members how many of them will we see renew? I fear that when it comes to the inactive members many of them will not renew. After passing this rocky patch, we may have less fee paying members (one way or another) and our finances may be hit, but I suspect as far as active membership goes there won't be a decline and so we'll rebound. In parallel, over the year, I expect the Board to organise and formalise the party structures, so that in a year's time there is much greater administrative and organisational understanding of who does what, when, how, etc. I also anticipate the majority of the work done by the Board will be mind numbingly boring for the average member, yet rather important to ensure we have a robust infrastructure and governance.

I have mixed feelings that I was right about the membership dip. I was also right about active membership not really changing. Though this did help us get stronger, it did so at the expense of the health and sanity of those active members. With the recent losses we're back into a rebuilding phase.

I was also right that the Board provided a lot of boring administrative and organisational structure and understanding. It is hard to criticise the Board for doing what it was constructed to do. But it would be fair to say that too often Governors were too focused on their own defined role rather than the wider health of the Party. There were times when it would have been better for Governors to be providing their time and skills to help the NEC. I'd like to think I did this - it is for others to judge how successful I have been. But I certainly cast that as a challenge to all others who put themselves forward for the Board - that they should be prepared at times to muck in wherever needed. That should indeed be a challenge to all members too!

It is fair to say that we're at one of those points again. I would like to see anyone standing for the Board to be prepared to not only fulfil their Governor duties (if elected) but also to be prepared to volunteer in a wide range of operational areas, as needed. More than that, I'd like to see anyone nominating themselves to be prepared to get stuck in with volunteer work right away, during, and after the election even if they aren't elected. We need to fill our elected positions, but it is far more important that the work gets done.

Q) What do you imagine as your role within the board and party within the same period?

If I was elected to the Board, I would anticipate my role as a member would continue pretty much as it does now.

I think I was wrong on this one, though in a good way. I think I've done so much more across more roles than I used to.

One of the advantages of being a Governor is having a big-picture perspective of where the Party is and needs to go. Yet it is too easy to lose sight of the day to day work that needs doing. The best way to prevent this happening is by getting involved in that day to day work. I am confident that I have managed to do this. While being a Governor I was involved in so many other parts of the Party and I have regularly done volunteer work in various other departments including:

  • I spent a year organising meetings across the South East of England as the Regional Administrative Officer for the South East,
  • Web Team - being a content monkey for a time on the old website,
  • Press Team - some proof reading, and having the power to put press releases live on behalf of others (very much a support role - best work in Press has been done by others),
  • Campaigns Team - includes answering incoming emails, managing content on the new website, shouldering a lot of the social media responsibility (see next),
  • Social Media - I turned this into it's own separate team, still notionally under Campaigns, which I continue to lead. This hit its peak awesomeness during the EU elections last year but has since seen some drop-off and like so many other departments needs an influx of eager new volunteers,
  • Branch member - I am an active member of the London branch regularly attending meetings,
  • Election Agent - I was the election agent for Mark Chapman (PPC Vauxhall GE2015)
  • IRC hang-abouter - I hang about on the IRC channel available to guide curious new volunteers (but mostly trying to tease our antipodean brethren)

I hope this shows that I have been prepared to get involved with a wide variety of activities that benefit the Party and are outside my role as Governor. I believe that this gives me a good picture of how the Party is operating which actually supports me in having the big-picture view that I think is essential for Governors to have.

Despite all of the above I haven't let my work on the Board slip. I believe my record as a Governor is strong. I've participated in a wide variety of discussions with direct impact on the way the Party operates - from arguments about how early elections were undertaken, to how to deal with a range of potentially disciplinary matters with absent officials. I have spent endless boring hours (am I allowed to confess that at times I enjoyed the work??) doing the admin work to shepherd constitutional amendments from ideas into votes...

(continued...)

Comments

  • edited May 2015

    I've advocated strongly to not accept the resignation of the full NEC in the wake of the Pirate Bay proxy legal threats (which I feel reflected the views of the majority of members) and to set up a panel to report to members the full details relating to the issue and in less exciting times I've helped analyse pages of non-random numbers (Party accounts) as part of the Board's Financial Oversight Committee.

    In addition:

    In the context of the big-picture view that I think Governors needs to have, I do have thoughts about where we are and where we need to be focusing the Party's efforts. With several NEC positions being replaced as well as the full body of the Board this is a very good time to assess the result of the past 5 years and look forward to the next 5 years.

    We all know that there aren't that many very active members so it is difficult for some of those who may be interested in becoming more active to know what the challenges are. Also as a member of the oversight body if I can't help reflect on past concerns and suggest areas that need to be worked on then we're in a sorrier state than I think we are :)

    I hope other candidates (especially those for NEC positions) can lay out what they are offering and what they think the future direction should be, but I hope my experience and perspective will provide a platform for those new to the Party and may not have as good a handle on where we are. They are as capable as anyone as having good ideas and being new to the Party should not be a disadvantage - so I hope the following generates a lot of ideas and enthusiasm for members to step forward and volunteer to help the Party. Either in an unelected capacity of by competing with me to stand for the Board and/or to stand for one of the vacant NEC positions.

    Membership Size

    This needs to be bigger. We need specific aims to increase it and someone who's job it is to do this who is reporting to every NEC meeting on progress. Whether this activity is undertaken by one of the NEC, or delegated form it, there needs to be one individual in the NEC with whom this duty ultimately rests with and can be held accountable for progress.

    While I believe this is an operational task the Board does have a role in expressing the importance of growing the membership for the future health of the Party.

    Managing Volunteers

    We've failed time and time again to have a way for volunteers to get in touch, for us to have a way to communicate with volunteers, and to turn someone volunteering to do stuff into someone who actuadlly does stuff.

    Things have improved. We do now have a way to volunteer and get added to a list. But the means of communicating to that list is terrible, there is no way for those on the list to communicate with each other, and there is little to no work done in communicating regularly to those on the list with tasks that need doing.

    Communicating with volunteers cannot be done in isolation from the departments with work that needs doing. This means there must be a requirement on all operational departments to regularly keep volunteers (directly or via volunteer manager) aware of what is going on and what works needs help.

    We need someone who manages volunteers proactively and gets them doing work. This pool of people is where we'll find our future candidates, spokespersons, and elected officers. We need to invest in them. The person managing them needs to report to every NEC with progress, and liaise with every department and work tirelessly to get volunteers into a job.

    Finances

    We do an awful job at raising finances. Sam has some ideas for improving this. I think they're good - so this might be an area we improve on quickly. This doesn't mean we can't benefit from other good ideas.

    Spokespersons

    Volunteers if properly used will no doubt solve most of our problems... but we need more spokespersons and to ensure they are authoritative on their topic. Is there scope to approach non-members who are authoritative on an issue we find important and see if they're willing to speak on our behalf about it? Sounds a bit like 'celebrity endorsement' but certainly worth a try ;) Though at the very least we can seek experts to advise us on topics and that are prepared to let us quote them.

    It is also useful for volunteers and members to let us know what their skills/knowledges are that they are willing to make available to the Party so that we can make best use of them.

    Press and External Profile

    Our external profile is (see I'm not all doom and gloom) higher than we ought to deserve from our small size. Our press output has been fantastic at times (though the press department is currently seriously at risk and needs reinvigorating with new volunteers) and, with great spokespersons like Loz, we've been able to enjoy the higher profile. This external success is one of the highlights of the past few years, it is something we can be proud of - the challenge is to continue this and grow it, and to do so without it being a trade-off with internal Party work.

    Promotion

    Despite our higher-than-we-might-expect media profile, too few voters know who we are. When we send literature to people and they still don't know who we are on their ballot paper there's a problem.

    We need regular campaigns operating keyed in to certain short term goals as well as promotion of our existence. These could involve actual proper election campaigns (local elections are a great way to develop canddiates without putting deposits at risk), regular donation drives, regular output of promotional materials (e.g. magazines/newsletters, podcasts, reality TV series of what it is like to be a Pirate Party candidate, etc.), etc.

    Clearly these should operate from the Campaigns office and the Campaigns Officer should be drawing up (randomly plucked number) 6-12 campaigns a year, detailing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each campaign as well as some long term KPIs and reporting on these regularly at NEC meetings.

    (continued...)
  • edited May 2015

    KPIs Generally

    All operational activities and officers could be setting their KPIs and reporting on them. We need to know what constitutes doing better, have a way to measure that, and then have plans in place to achieve them and explanations if we don't. They are great ways to plan a department's future activity, let members know what is going on, flag upcoming plans for volunteers to consider getting involved in, giving members a way to hold their elected officials accountable.

    These could be broad targets for membership numbers, increasing donations, number of new local branches, number of willing candidates, number of Universities where a spokesperson has given a talk, number of University student Pirate Party societies, etc.

    Meandering...

    It may seem like I've taken a long meandering path in this post, yet I think that as it is my intention to nominate myself once more for the Board it is useful for me to demonstrate (and submit myself to challenge and questioning upon) the following:

    • that I have a track record of devoting time and effort to the Party,
    • that I have (hopefully more than) adequately discharged my duties as a Governor to date,
    • that I do have an accurate (i.e. I'm not delusional) impression of the state of the Party,
    • that I understand the areas of the Party that need the most improvement (important for a Governor who may have to undertake oversight of some of those areas).

    So it is without further fanfare that I throw my hat once more into the ring and submit myself to the members, offering myself to spend another five years as one of their Governors of the Board. I should add that I have not lined up someone to second my nomination. I encourage members to review my record, ask me questions, and decide if they want to second me.

  • Seconded. I value your experience and appreciate your service.
  • I also second azrael's nomination.
  • Okay. Sorry, Azrael, I'm with K'Tetch, in that case.
  • Agree with the positive comments about Azrael (he got me involved in standing as a candidate to start with, was my election agent and is always helpful and responsive).

    My question as such is 'Great - but only this?'. Given your history and knowledge of the party, long-standing commitment and general willingness to be there and help people (as evidenced on this thread amongst others) is now the time for you to stand for one of the NEC roles - perhaps a more internally facing one such as Party Secretary?
  • Thanks Mark :D

    To be honest I thought long and hard about it this time, and even done so a few previous times NEC positions have come up. Given there will be full NEC elections later this year (according to the schedule required by the constitution) I am sure I will think long and hard about it then too (cannot promise the answer will be different).

    Each time I've come to the decision that I am not able to commit the amount of time I think an NEC role will need. Given all the time I do commit and the wide variety of things I do this might seem a little odd! However I think I have a sensible rationale. :)

    The advantage of volunteering a small amount across lots of different areas means I am able to dip in and out of activity as my time availability allows. I try to minimise the roles I have that have direct responsibility as it is these roles that I can not dip in and out of. The role of Governor is one such - and consequently I commit a certain amount of time to it. All my other volunteering while important (as every little bit of time anyone offers in volunteer work for us is) is so much more flexible.

    If I were to take on a role in the NEC I would not do so on the basis that I could dip in and out of it. NEC meetings are fortnightly (used to be weekly) and Board meetings are monthly. That's a terribly simplistic way to compare the roles but it suggests the NEC requires twice as much commitment. The truth would probably be closer to four or five times as much commitment!!!

    In good conscience I won't ask members to elect me role a role which I cannot, hand on heart, promise I have the time to commit to. The Party has suffered in the past from NEC members not being able to commit the necessary time - and I am certainly not casting blame, as there are all manner of reasons. Things change, and I know sometimes people think they will have the time and then don't - and I won't blame them for that. Other times the Party might think it is better to have someone in the role, than not... but I think in hindsight that masks the problem and might mislead members into thinking there isn't an issue where there clearly is (a big empty vacancy is a clear signal to members that the Party needs more volunteers!).

    To try and not drag this out any longer than it needs to be ;) - for me to know in advance that I won't have the time the role needs and just hope to limp along and manage would be a disservice to other elected officers, the members, and the Party. :)
  • Agree - the use of targets should be to encourage the Party towards certain objectives rather than a pass or fail based on meeting the detail of a specific stat.
  • Unfortunately, Peter Brett is unable to second due to being an election monitor (it's in the constitution under 9.22), so we'll need a new seconder for Azrael. Any takers?
  • I second Stephen for the role of Governor. He has been one of the most positive driving forces for the party over the past 5 years, and has made sure it survived that long!

    I also agree with the tl;dr. Vote Azrael. He is awesome.
  • Thank you Daniel :)
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