The Grand Board’s Job

February 27th, 2008 by bebersghost

RK841Maz took me to task in this comment for saying that the grand board was “out of touch with the electorate” and for falsely accusing them of not serving the members.

First, I want to compliment him for calling me on this an not just sitting and stewing over it – good for him for speaking out.

Second, I do want to clarify – my comment about them being out of touch with the electorate was specifically related to the IC motion on election qualifications, where they supported a motion that was soundly defeated: pretty much the definition of “out of touch with the electorate”. And while it’s true that there are other incidents during the past term where I would have liked to see grand board members be advocates for the members when dealing with international (and policy) issues, I did not and do not mean to ever suggest that they are not committed to BBYO or that they do not work very hard for the organization and the members.

I have had little contact with grand board in general, however I have met quite a few Grand Aleph Godolim and International N’siot. With occasional exceptions, I’ve found them to be among the most remarkable individuals I have ever met. They have run excellent programs at our regional conventions, and made a real effort to reach out not just to the regional leaders, but to the chapter leaders and individual members.

So I have no fault with the Grand Board’s work in general. I have great respect for it and am glad to hear RK841Maz’s view that this will be a strong one. What I do have for this board is a question and a challenge.

Is it just Grand Board’s job to help chapters, train leaders and teach BBYO philosophy?

While they do this part of the job very well, I suggest there is more to being on Grand Board.

You see, in BBYO there is outstanding communication from the “top down”. From international, to regional, to chapters. But the communication in the reverse direction is generally very poor. Especially in this age of “One BBYO” – the push to create uniform procedures and policies – who is going listen to the needs of the individual chapters and regions and represent and communicate their needs to the international staff? Is that not also part of the Grand Board’s job? That is the part of the job that I believe has been lacking in the past. Yes, it is important to work to build the order and help the chapters. Teaching and training and helping – these are critical. But they are also elected representatives. That means reaching out and listening to members, to what they want and need, and making sure those views are communicated and taken into account when decisions are made that impact the entire order.

8 Responses to “The Grand Board’s Job”

  1. RK841Maz Says:

    You bring up a good point and I agree. My chapter has the luxury of voicing our opinions directly to Steven (GASh) because he is in my chapter. But what about all the other chapters out there? There are only four other chapters in my situation so I completely understand.

    I feel that while on the international programming level, the Grand Board and I-Staff play it off they work very nicely together but in between IC and summer programs there might be some butting of heads. While a Grand Board has personal goals in mind which they put on their platform during elections, once the term starts, staff have their own goals in mind for the Board.

    What do you think the Grand Board should do? Especially if the two sets of goals contradict each other, how should the Board approach it? Should they ignore everything staff tells them and work independently? Or, try to please the staff and create a strong working relationship so that when the time comes when the Board wants something, staff is more likely to produce?

  2. bebersghost Says:

    Obviously Grand Board must have a good working relationship with staff. But that doesn’t mean they can’t advocate for the members as well. I don’t know about your region, but I’ve certainly known many regional board members who have had disagreements with regional staff and have been very strong advocates for chapters or issues – while at the same time maintaining good relationships (if not close friendships) with staff.
    If it works at the regional level, I see no reason why it wouldn’t work at the international level as well.

  3. RK841Maz Says:

    Im in NTO, we have a very VERY good system of staff members! In a perfect world the same fraternal bonds on the chapter level would be felt on the regional and international, but as groups grow and programs become more available for members, certain things are lost on the international scale than what we love and cherish on the chapter level.

    Thats just how things go…

  4. BBGLover Says:

    Sorry to be nitpicky, but you accidentally typed Regional N’siot at a point when I think you meant International. =) Just a little typo I noticed!

    I agree 100% with the lack of back and forth communication. I’ve worked (or seen my regional N’siah work) with multiple i-Board members. They’re excellent at keeping me and others informed about international initiatives, from ISF fundraising to membership drives. But one incident stuck out in my mind, where I was asking my international counterpart for advice on an issue I had encountered with my regional board. She listened, gave me advice on the least important part of my issue, and then quickly changed the subject to whatever international thing she had called to tell me about.

    I understand that these initiatives are meant to benefit the regions and chapters. But I expect that IBoard, with their vast experience in BBYO (mostly), is there to give advice and support, not just advertise their own flashy ideas. When I call my chapter counterparts, I want to hear their problems and work with them to fix them, not just tell them whatever new thing the region expects from their chapter. It’s sad the I-Board doesn’t really do the same.

    Maybe it varies region to region. It comes down to the concept of I-Board in general. These leaders may have a lot of experience on the chapter and regional level, and “experience” on the international level from summer programs. But as an alumni of many summer programs (CLTC, ILTC, Kallah East, and Nitzotz, and 3 ICs), I will admit that what I know of how other regions work is superficial at best, and nonexistent at worst. And that’s with friends in many other regions. I’m really excited for the new GAG and Intl N’siah; they, more than anyone since Brandon Rattiner & Shauna Ruda 2 years ago, have made a sincere effort to get to know other regions on a deeper level. But I think IBoard as a whole sometimes assumes that because they know how to be a Moreh or Morah in their region (or whatever position they hold), they can give advice to their chapter and regional counterparts across the country without making an effort to find out how it works in regions other than their own.

  5. bebersghost Says:

    Thanks for the “nit” – I always appreciate corrections like that and have updated the message accordingly.
    I think it’s human nature to assume that your experience is relevant to others – it takes a real effort to actually understand another person’s point of view before offering advice.
    I know that as an advisor I find I have to ask a lot of questions before offering advice. I think while it is sometimes annoying, the guys ultimately appreciate it in that my advice is based on their situation and goals rather than my own limited experience. Certainly when I began an advisor I had to “unlearn” a great many of my assumptions learned through experience with other organizations – BBYO was that different.
    I don’t really fault the international board members for basing their advice and support primarily on their own experience – especially at first. Learning to listen and appreciate the variety of regions and chapters is part of what the GAG and International N’siah (IN?) get to learn during their year traveling around the country.
    I do fault international staff and regional staff (particularly from other regions) when they assume that their way is always best for everyone. They are older and more experienced and should know better.

    The Ghost

  6. PastBBGBoardMember Says:

    First off… To whoever is running this blog: you are an advisor for this organization, and I find it pretty unprofessional for you to be conducting yourself on here in the manner that you are. Secondly… Before anyone criticizes the International or Grand Boards, you should take some time to recognize how hard the ten members of it work EVERY SINGLE DAY (and night), and understand that they only want the best for our orders and would never do anything to sacrifice the strength of BBG or AZA. As someone who has served on the board and who knows a plethora of other people who have as well, it is offensive that you state that they only act on their own free will, only gaging their efforts from past experience. Not only did YOU elect them to office, saying that you wanted them to represent you to the best of their ability, but you trusted them to use their best judgment on how to handle every unique situation they encounter– if something has worked for them in the past, and they think it is appropriate to share their helpful information with someone else so it can hopefully help them, it would be wrong to just hold their methods back. Between XX Reports from Regional N’siot and Godolim, 40+ counterpart calls, emails, IMs, and conversations with directors and members from across BBYO, the board is there to give advice as best as they can (they’re only human), based off of what they know to be true from the people they are helping. If you don’t agree with how they are working, you should tell THEM, PERSONALLY- because in the end that is the only way that they can adjust their work ethic to best suit you… complaining on a blog is not a way to represent BBG, AZA, or BBYO, both within the organization and to the outside world, and certainly isn’t a way to gain more respect from the boards.

  7. bebersghost Says:

    Hmm… unprofessional and offensive in one go. That’s a pretty strong criticism. But you are entitled to it, and hence your comment appears here uncensored or edited.

    And my response can be found here.

    The Ghost

  8. Reunderadergo Says:

    Hi people

    As a fresh bebersghost.com user i only want to say hello to everyone else who uses this board 😉

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