Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Board Governance Committee/Board transparency

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What does transparency mean[edit]

Starting this section in hopes that people can share what they think board transparency means...

I think boards mainly do two things: (1) review information and (2) make (group) decisions. The most important aspect of transparency for me is understanding (1) what the board is looking at and why and (2) what decisions the board is making and why. It is also helpful to understand which decisions the board is laboring on more intensively and which are basically cursory.

I think it's also important for boards not to fall into analysis paralysis. I like the idea of an actively engaged rather than passive board, but the reality is that the larger the group, the less effective it is at decision-making. I like to remember a quote attributed to Warren Buffett when I'm faced with psychologically tough decisions: "One's objective should be to get it right, get it quick, get it out, and get it over... your problem won't improve with age."

I expect that that vast majority of the time, the board will be asking the executive management for recommendations and taking those recommendations. That's not necessarily a problem as long as the board is asking the right questions and the uncompromisingly insisting on solid, concise information. But part of transparency is for the board to be clear about the recommendations it is receiving from the executive director and where it inserting its own initiatives.

This is my opinion and it's not based upon any particular empirical research, but it's colored by a few years of experience on boards. I also like a book called *Governance as Leadership* which talks about this type of thing and how boards can influence the original conversation; summarized a bit here.

Also, according to this, decision-making effectiveness declines by 10% for every extra person after 6. Seems like a random and unreliable number, but it is very true that big groups are going to have a real tough time having complex discussions and making good decisions. Some big boards have executive committees to help handle this issue; at WMF's size it seems sort of borderline. Ben Creasy (talk) 04:57, 10 August 2016 (UTC)