The Agile Alliance Board of Directors has received many questions over the nominations process for new Board Members. We would like to share some of the changes we introduced over the past year.
A little background and history
Agile Alliance Board members are elected for a 3-year term, with the option to put themselves forward after 3 years to serve a second consecutive term. We hold elections each year to replace Directors who are not returning for our next session because they have served on the Board for two terms, or have opted out of being re-elected for a second term. This means we replace up to three of our nine elected members each year. The tenth (non-elected) Board member is the Managing Director of Agile Alliance, who serves by virtue of their position in the organization.
The process through which Board members are elected is defined in our By-laws. Essentially, we create a committee of three existing Board members whose responsibility is to bring to the whole Board a slate of three candidates, including both returning Board members and new nominees. These candidates are approved by a vote of the Board. This slate is then put before our membership for a vote. Once we close voting, the results are announced at our Annual Members’ Meeting.
As a general guideline, we have sought to maintain a balanced Board with respect to gender and geography.
Our goal in 2020
Going into the 2020 Nominations season, our goal was to increase the diversity of the Board to more closely match our membership and the global Agile community. The Board gave the Nominations Committee the responsibility of defining the process needed to achieve our goal.
What follows are the specific changes we made.
- Reaching out to recruit nominees.
Previously, we recruited candidates by announcing the elections in our newsletter and in
Social media, and inviting potential candidates to nominate themselves. We then chose our nominees from that pool through an interview process. This year, we expanded our reach even further by identifying potential candidates through the Emerging Economies initiative network. This initiative seeks to bring Agile awareness into under-represented areas of the world, such as the Middle East, Africa, Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe. This gave us a much larger and more representative pool of people to invite into the process.
- Removing barriers to nominations and serving on the Board
We recognized there were financial and geopolitical restrictions, and societal and timezone challenges keeping candidates from applying or serving as voluntary Board members.
While some candidates took for granted that travel and living expenses for participating in board activities would be compensated, and time off would be available to undertake Board work, others may not have been aware of what support is provided to Board members.
To account for as much of this as we could, we explicitly stated our travel reimbursement policies, including full reimbursement for travel expenses, offered memberships free of charge to nominees where the cost of membership was prohibitive and promised to stagger our monthly meetings to make the timezone challenge a common one for all board members.
- Improving understanding of the Board’s responsibilities
Through our internal discussions, we discovered that the role of the Board and the responsibilities of individual Directors were unknown to many outside the Board.
To address this, we wrote up complete descriptions of the function of the Board and Directors, and ensured that links to this information were provided to all who self-nominated.
- Creating an objective, transparent process for selection
We strove to create an objective, transparent interview process to remove unconscious bias, and to allow everyone entering the process to do so as equals, without regard to their standing in the community or relationships with current Board members.
Through hours of discussion, we created a standard set of questions for nominees, a rubric we used to score responses, and a standard strategy for searching social media. We also eliminated the use of stack ranking in our deliberations, preferring to set scoring boundaries above which all candidates were considered equal.
- Building the best team for continuing Board success
The best teams are made up of diverse individuals across many axes, all of whom bring together their disparate viewpoints, coupled with the skills needed to serve on a Board of Directors. We considered our top candidates based on both sets of criteria in arriving at our choice.
Following these guidelines, we chose our two new nominees, whose unique mix of diverse points of view, experiences, and strategic skills, along with our returning Board member, created the strongest possible team.
As the three Nominations committee members, we can honestly say we are proud both of the slate we returned and the process we followed. We reached for diversity of thought, experience, geography, ethnicity, gender, and more, and ensured our nominees had the requisite skills.
After 6 months of time invested in developing the process, screening candidates, and interviewing the final few, we made our choice. And now you, our membership, are making yours in deciding how to vote on this slate.
Assuming it is approved by the member vote, you’ll have a chance to meet these two wonderful people at our Members’ Meeting in July. We know you’ll be as impressed with our slate as we are.