Lee Simpson, 26 January 2014

This session came from a discussion we have been having in Improbable and also

with our board of directors about the possibility of someone from the D+D community

being a member of the Improbable board.

A little bit of history

For the first 16 years of its existence, Improbable was not a limited company. We

operated as a partnership. This meant that we did not have a board of directors.

6 months ago we became a limited company and so recruited a board of directors. So

far there have been 2 board meetings and we have 5 board members.

We are looking to add to our board and the idea came up that we might do so by

having one board member from the D+D community or from the D+D event. That

person would sit for a year and then be replaced by the next person to come out of

D+D the following year.

The Session

Most of the session was a general discussion about what constitutes a good board

and a good relationship with a board. Although this might not have been directly to do

with the question it was all valuable stuff and made me think that at a future D+D

there's probably a session needed which is about people sharing their experiences

and opinion about working with a board.

Some of the comments were:

It is great when the board finds a way to challenge you as well as supporting you. This

was called being “a critical friend”.

Carry out a skills audit on your board. Is every useful expertise covered?

As well as offering legal / strategic / financial help the board can also offer emotional

or psychological support.

The “Give / Get” model is much more common now, ie. if you are on the board you

either give money, get other people to give money or get off the board.

One person talked about how the board cook for the actors during the tech and she

cooks for the board at meetings. This helps to create a great relationship between the

company and the board

The board may bring specific skills: legal, financial etc. It is worth finding out who on

the board is OK about doing their “day” job in their role on the board and who is not.

There were lots of other useful things said and conversations had about having a

board but my note taking was not that good. Sorry.

When we did get onto the topic of someone from D+D it became clear that when I had

read out the session at opening many people had not quite understood what I meant.

What I hoped it conveyed was:

Should there be someone from this D+D event on the board of Improbable? And if

there should be, how do we go about selecting them?

This wasn't what most people got from my session title unfortunately.

Someone asked what it was that we wanted from a D+D board member? My thought

was that we wanted someone who embodied the spirit and energy of D+D. This

was generally accepted as a good idea and people spoke about other ways they had

experienced of getting some diversity onto their boards.

It was suggested that because we are talking about a board of directors some people

might automatically discount themselves because they don't think of themselves as

people who do that sort of thing. A suggestion for a better way of putting the question

was “Who would like to help us shape our work?”

There was some discussion about whether the selection process for an Improbable

board member should be something that happens:

a) In the room at D+D

b) Outside the room, but with the focus being on people who Improbable perceive to

be part of the D+D community.

I pointed out that we could only propose a potential board member from D+D. It would

be up to the board to vote the person on. Or not.

The consensus ended up being that we want to get to a place where we do make a

decision about who will be proposed as a board member at the D+D event itself and

that each year we commit to proposing someone. However it was felt that the

communication about that process had not been thought through enough, nor was it

communicated effectively enough for that to happen at this D+D. We would look to do

it for the first time at the next D+D.

In the meantime Improbable should think about proposing to the board someone from

the D+D community to be on the board for the coming year.

We'll let you know how that goes.


Director, director, improbable, DIRECTOR, board