Another Non-Profit Tries to Eat Itself

I forget where I learned this definition, but I've long believed that politics is the art of generating consent. I watched the implosion of the Libertarian Party of Oregon over factionalism (eventually one side gave up because the fight was emotionally exhausting), I have left a board because they black-balled a new member because of his association with another organization, I have been involved in the form of a Bylaws committee member trying to fix some dreadfully written bylaws, by trying to save ASLET from giving too much power to a faction which selected a powerful executive director.

In all of these cases the problem can from elevating personal interests over the interests of the membership. In all of these cases I was close to the only one that understood Roberts Rules of Order, and the principles behind them, in that the rules are there in order to preserve the rights of minorities as well as the rights of the membership. In every case I heard myself say, more than once, that it would be inappropriate to perform some radical action without the consent of the membership because otherwise authority would be exceeded.

In only one case did things go to the legal arena. From what I've seen of the judge's reaction to the cases (there were several) I have been correct in what I knew the principles were.

The latest implosion I am observing is that of KMPRO, an organization dedicated to the profession of knowledge management. I know I keep an eye on a lot of professions (business administration, project management, software engineering, et al.) but this was an interest of mine after reading The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge. I took the plunge and put in a membership fee in order to read the "KMBOK", the Knowledge Management Body of Knowledge. I was unable to read it on the web site for months (and still can't today).

It turns out that a massive fight is going on within KMPRO's Board of Directors. Lately I have been asked to pick a faction and provide by proxy to a meeting that is coming up in Virginia in a few days. While both sides like to write me emails that are really novellas, there is one that seems a little more in touch with the interests of the membership than the other.

I sure hate watching organizations eat themselves. I'll see how things turn out as I try to resove their debate a little with some poking and prodding. I am rather happy that they made a mailing list for the membership to learn about the issues and actually ask questions. That is something that the other three organizations I've been involved with were not able to do. Something like 5% of the LPO membership was on a mailing list, 2% of ASLET, and the final organization did not have a email list at all.

Update: I'm not the only one that noticed this. Denham Grey has posted a KMPRO concern. Also Jack Vinson.

Josh Poulson

Posted Sunday, Aug 29 2004 08:55 AM

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