Directors Meeting - 2016-02-07
- Rex B
- Nigel C
- Michael D
- Caelin M
- Chenessa M
- Nigel C
- Michael D
- Updates on Proposed Special Resolution
- Financials and Networking
- IT Coordinator Replacement
- Board and Staff Roles
Updates on Proposed Special Resolution
Financials and Networking
- Nigel: Net balance for the whole year was a $499 loss, confirmed by accountant.
- Rex: Looking into getting Bitpay working again.
- Took in 15% more recycling, which coincided with 15% more revenue; arguably, we did 15% more business this year.
- Went to convention at the Roundhouse, talked to businesses, banged FG's drum. Had a lot of opportunity to talk to businesses who were interested in what we do.
- Went to a Board of Change meeting. Met lots of smart downtown business people who want to do good things, but were worried about the logistics. FG looks sterling, as we already have the logistics covered as a social enterprise. Many reacted positively to our message.
- Found a for-profit recycler near Terminal who is willing to re-stream computers they receive to us.
- Potential opportunity to create a receiving stream from North Shore area.
- Caelin: Maybe we should have a boilerplate letter of thanks and further contact sent to people after we meet or contact them.
- Nigel: You and I can work on that.
IT Coordinator Replacement
- Tyler is leaving in 6 months. We will be running into significant problems trying to replace him. One of the issues around replacing him is that he is not just the designer and maintainer of our network and distribution system, but a support staff who the staff rely on to fix somewhat arcane problems, as well as a developer who creates software solutions to fit our needs.
- It's very hard to find off-the-shelf individuals who will have Tyler's knowledge of servers and be able to develop software.
- I have heard the staff mention that they are considering hiring one or more contract workers, possibly at a higher wage than their own, to resolve these issues.
- Michael: There is no immediate solution available to us, but we have to be diligent to solve this. We must take advantage of the time Tyler has given to us. Once he's gone, he won't be able to train anyone, if training is required.
- Nigel: Staff met with Jordan Eunson, ex Staff/Director, on Friday (February 5th) to discuss a solution. First thing he suggested was full documentation for staff on how to update/modify the existing services (Asterisk, lists, etc). He also suggested purchasing a modern rack switch (~$1500) to replace the server switch and take on the duties of the managed switches in the building.
- Michael: Doing so would save some server rack space and make managing the network easier.
- Nigel: Google hosting would save us a lot of time with email and documents. I'm not saying we have to use it. I'm open to discussing it with everyone.
- Rex: I'm very much opposed philosophically to using Google, but I will not let it stand in the way of our needs.
- Nigel: I will write a priority list for actionable decisions to resolve this issue. I want to see a proposal put in place before we do anything. Hiring short-term workers will help us transition, but it will not be a permanent solution. We need someone who will take responsibility for our networking system, who will be available to us.
Board and Staff Roles
- I have talked to the staff numerous times in the past 2 weeks. There is a general sense that the Board is not supporting them in their endeavours, and are not having their immediate operations needs met by us. They at least need us to be available for decisions.
- Free Geek has always been in an awkward spot in this regard. If you look at the standard rubric for staff/board responsibilities, most of top-level operations decisions fall to the responsibility of an Executive Director, who then represents the Board to the staff. We don't have one of those.
- Rex: Hiring one would be diametrically opposed to the work philosophy of Free Geek.
- True, but this leaves us in our situation where the staff require guidance or approval on matters that they can't reasonably be expected to execute on their own. I have suggested to the staff to call for a Strategic Meeting of Staff and Board, to discuss in detail which aspects of operational decisions and responsibilities they need from us, so we can meet in the middle and establish what they expect and what we're capable of.
- For example, I don't want to pick on Chenessa, but I have heard several staff telling me they require HR Lead help in the past months which they have not received.
- Chenessa: I have been extremely and unexpectedly busy lately with my work. I've been going with the expectation that if something is needed of me by the staff, they will ask me directly. I feel like there is this assumption that I'm supposed to read every email and know when to just jump in, but I haven't done that, because I don't want to be seen as controlling. It's not always clear which topics are our responsibility or domain. It's also a huge task to go through every email.
- Caelin: I've also had issues knowing where my boundaries lie.
- This has always been a problem at Free Geek, for every Board role. This is why I have suggested a Strategic Meeting.
- Just to point out another example: business cards. Do they fall under the purview of Staff, or Board? Who makes the final call on what's acceptable as a business card, or logo, or message? Should all staff have personalised cards? Since we're working on a consistent and solid marketing message, should they need to approve them with Caelin first? Without laying expectations out at the onset of a new Board, they have no way of knowing what responsibilities a new Board member will want to take on.
- Caelin: How are business cards done, and who has the layout?
- Done by individual staff, mostly by Adrian now. Layout is through an online service.
- More on the confusion: This is only the second year the Board has had a proper HR Lead. Last time was more than a year ago. They reasonably believe that, now that there's an HR person again, any hiring activity should at least involve the HR Lead.
- Caelin: Who was in charge of hiring before?
- Michael: Policy is to have a 3-person committee, of Staff and Board. In practice, outside of the financial approval, the procedure and decision oftentimes came down to the Staff alone.
- Caelin: Can we just appoint a director to appear at each staff meeting?
- Michael: Sure, but that would require that director knowing which tasks are the Board's responsibility, and who to delegate them to. We have yet to establish that.
- Nigel: One thing that could help would be a more effective use of email. Posting issues to lists can be problematic, as they don't require response from particular individuals, and oftentimes require busy people to volunteer their time to solve an issue. Often the wrong person is delegated.
- Chenessa: I will be on vacation from March 1-10, and on a work trip from April 3-13.
Proposed Date for Next Meeting
- Early March