Why is the idea of a Board of Directors being overlooked?

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Why is the idea of a Board of Directors being overlooked?

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Aug 16, 2016 4:37 pm

In the morass that this forum has recently witnessed, the best idea that anybody has posted was to turn NHBB into a company governed by a board of directors, who install a CEO (presumably Dave) to direct the company at their discretion. It was then rapidly ignored, which I am baffled at. Especially given the discussions of professionalism, and the concerns about Madden's lack of accountability and worrisome business practices, this seems to me like the obvious solution that everybody should be throwing their weight behind. Despite my own criticisms of NHBB in the past, I don't think that anybody can deny that Dave has a tremendous amount of energy that could be incredibly useful if harnessed in the best directions. I also think we all agree that the mission of NHBB, as long as it runs on pyramidal questions, is worthy. However, year in and year out the most predictable exchanges to be found on the forums are "Dave had some really bad ideas that other people were unable to talk him down from which tarnished an otherwise good event," or "Dave dumped an insane amount of work on other people and refused to listen to their pleas for him to not add even more work on top of it" or "Dave freaked out and said something he shouldn't have to a high schooler or to an employee, and isn't really apologizing for it." Isn't it time for NHBB to move past this impasse? Rather than the extreme view that Dave absolutely must leave the company, isn't this the best possible solution, especially as this company matures? Maybe NHBB can continue to function as Dave's personal domain, but as companies reach this size and scope, they can't possibly be run effectively as a centralized one-man show, and especially after all of these potentially damaging legal accusations came up, it seems obvious to me that this company badly needs a businessman or two to sit down and make sure to vet all the contracts, lawsuit threats, and general behavior from the management. Imagine an NHBB where sometimes people are actually able to to veto a bad idea, and push Dave towards better ones with real authority, while making sure that Dave's constant presence isn't the only thing making the company hold together? Isn't that the best possible outcome here, instead of another 5 years of frustrated board exchanges and OK but deeply flawed business models and tournament directing ideas? Is there a way to hope that this idea could move forward and people can stop worrying about the future of NHBB and its relationship to quizbowl?
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Re: Why is the idea of a Board of Directors being overlooked

Postby Irreligion in Bangladesh » Tue Aug 16, 2016 5:02 pm

Speaking briefly, in the "officially for NHBB" capacity -- reading the other threads makes it sound like the idea got flatly ignored by a lot of people, including me and therefore NHBB; I may not have posted anything about it, but we are talking about it.

Speaking briefly, but personally from what I thought before I joined NHBB, and not in any official sense for it now -- I like the idea generally, but I'm more immediately interested in seeing further delegation of work by Madden before I worry about the corporate structure around him. (Naively, what can a board of directors do if one person does the vast majority of the company's work?) I've seen good progress in that over the last year and look forward to more of that this year as well.
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Re: Why is the idea of a Board of Directors being overlooked

Postby alexdz » Tue Aug 16, 2016 6:13 pm

As someone who sits on a board, I can say that there are basically two models for this:

(1) Board acts in an advisory capacity: So this, for many reasons, is a favorite of board members. They are able to contribute a few hours a month to help advise on important decisions for the company/organization with their expertise. An organization like NHBB, presumably, would want board members with some legal or financial expertise, but at the same time would want board members accountable to the community at large. I see one major hurdle to forming this kind of board being making the decision on what the board's composition should look like. Advisory boards can sometimes degenerate into positions of "importance" but with no real contribution of expertise. You also can end up with a bunch of "yes-men."

(2) Board is conducting day-to-day work of some sort: The "working board" mentality is basically my situation. It's a perfectly legitimate model, wherein the board members actually conduct work on behalf of the organization, such as organizing events. This, I presume, is much like what the board of a PACE or of HSAPQ might look like. On the one hand, this increases the commitment of a board member, but it also means your people making important decisions are doing so with knowledge of the boots on the ground. The hurdle here is finding people who have both the expertise and the time to commit to board membership. This kind of board could degenerate quickly if you overwork its members.

So, that all being said... creating a board isn't a bad idea at all, and could provide a level of moderation and accountability that restrains the organization to a manageable entity. It all comes down to making the critical decision of which kind of board is most beneficial here and then deciding on its composition and duties.
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Re: Why is the idea of a Board of Directors being overlooked

Postby AZQuizbowl » Thu Sep 15, 2016 1:22 am

A month late, but I don't keep up with much around here lately:

A Board of Directors that Madden actually listened to would be immensely helpful, and I'm happy to hear that NHBB is considering something like that even if it's further down the road. My reason for writing it off immediately was 1) No matter what NHBB does for the foreseeable future, I take issue with David Madden himself and his lack of personal apology and therefore will not work with NHBB in any capacity, 2) I just assumed Dave would continue to write it off and ignore it like he has ignored so many reasonable suggestions in the past from people who have stake in the success of his company (read: the independent contractors who are contracted only to him).

In an ideal world, NHBB would have a board of a directors and individuals in charge of each branch of competition that Dave comes up with and decides to run. This board of directors would include people with HR backgrounds, legal backgrounds, legitimate business and marketing backgrounds, and whatever else NHBB deems appropriate to help manage their day-to-day existence. The main issue here is that 1) Dave seems to really want full control and, in my experience (which does not include anything but the negative events of this year and none of the possible positive events) doesn't want to listen to people who disagree with him and 2) NHBB isn't really run like a real company. To my knowledge it doesn't have real employees or contracts. It probably pays taxes on things and runs like a semi-legitimate business, but not like a real business, and issues with contracts and improperly classifying workers and random legal threats don't seem like anyone with power is trying hard to be legitimate. And by anyone, I mean Dave.

If NHBB is truly moving toward something of a board of directors and some semblance of legitimacy outside of "we are creating as many competitions as possible" then that is truly remarkable and something I greatly look forward to. However, my pessimism and past experiences do not allow me to place much faith in this, no matter how competent Brad and other NHBB contractors may be.
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