News & Updates from Xylem Group

Xylem-Group podcasts

Between March and August, 2016, the Xylem Group created a series of 17 podcasts. The audio player/downloaders are here as part the related blog articles. We used the broadcasting platform called Blab. Blab was discontinued on August 12th. Our podcasts are still here at this site, and we’d love you to comment on our discussions. We have lots more to talk about, and will let you know our plans as soon as we figure how to proceed without Blab.

How a board learns its role

On June 19, 2017, John Bruce and Sherry S Jennings discussed how the board learns its role as part of a non profit organization.

This was part of the Xylem-Groups continuing exploration of issues related to non profit governing.

Board members often have expectations of what it means to be a board member that conflict with their real fiduciary responsibilities.

John talks about how boar members are selected and suggests that the process of inducting a new board member could include learning more about the role of the board.

This format includes a chat room. Two members of the Xylem Group were contributing to the conversation, and both John and Sherry referred to those comments.

Click for a popup window of the Chat Room <<

Exploring practical solutions to problems with meetings

The Xylem Spearing group is talking about how to cope with unproductive meetings.

Robert Ballantyne discusses with Linda Stier:

  1. The person who tries to take the meeting in a direction that is not of interest to the group.
  2. What to do when a meeting is not really needed.

Sherry S Jennings talks about:

  1. No one seems to be sticking to the agenda.
  2. Some pointers on how to organize the agenda.
  3. What to do when it becomes clear that there may not be time to bring an issue to a resolution.
  4. When adherence to Robert’s Rules is not productive
Click for chatroom <<


The Xylem Spearing Group Explore using Zoom for public discussion events

The members of the Spearing Group of The Xylem Partners continue with their investigation of a Broadcast-like platform to hold public discussion events.

To view the associated chat room that was part of this session click this link (this is a popup window, so be sure your browser permits popups):

Click for chatroom  <<

This experiment, using, occurred on Monday, May 8, 2017. Since this posting is a test of new software, when we’ve concluded our process of investigation, the post may vanish from this site.

Robert J Ballantyne is joined by Sherry S Jennings, Linda Stier, and John Bruce to investigate how they might use the webinar features of as a replacement for or to hold public seminars. The concept is to have a live event with up to four video discussion leaders plus a number of participants commenting in the chat room. The recording of that live event would be edited to appear in a manner similar to what you see here.

Coping with difficult board members or situations — part 2

Linda Stier talks to Sherry S Jennings about how to cope with difficult board members during nonprofit board meetings. Sherry has an interesting and current case history to discuss.

The conversation was recorded live on Firetalk, Monday April 24, 2017. Jennings discusses some of the difficulties that are occuring with a 30-person nonprofit board. She used this opportunity to explore solutions to some specific situations with the assembled panel of Xylem Group experienced consultants.

This event is part of a series of explorations of the Xylem Group. The consultants have been trying different platforms to share these conversations. In the near future they will be announcing the time of the live events so the public can attend and participate in the chat room.

How the chair copes with difficult members or participants during a board meeting

Linda Stier talks to John Bruce about how to cope with difficult participants or members during board meetings.

The person whom the group depends on to cope with non-productive participants is the chair of the meeting. First the chair must recognize that there is a problem, and then employ a strategy that addresses the situation — and ensure that the whole group continues to operate productively. John and Linda are old hands at this.

This was a video episode on Firetalk, April 10, 2017. In the chatroom were Xylem-Group members, Sherry S. Jennings and Robert J. Ballantyne.


The Xylem Group considers the power of the new board member

On April 3, 2017, Sherry Jennings and Linda Stier considered the ambitions and power of an enthusiastic new board member.

The board of a non-profit is accountable for all aspects of the organization. It can exercise considerable power: if it is legal, its decisions and instructions are binding on the staff. How does a new board member who wants to make a difference act effectively?

The Xylem Group discusses “Board Diversity”

On Monday, March 27, 2017, Robert Ballantyne talked with John Bruce about ways for a board to achieve diversity for its members.

Other Xylem Group members, Linda Stier and Sherry S Jennings, contributed to the discussion in the Chat Room.

This video is posted in HD, so if the type in the chat room is too small to read, please enlarge the video to Full Frame.

If you wish to comment  please do so here on the blog, we are not likely to see it at the Youtube site. Note, this is a moderated blog so comments must be respectful.

The Xylem Group Explores Board Transparency

On Tuesday, March 14, 2017 members of the Xylem Group discussed some issues for a nonprofit board that attempts to govern with board transparency

The Xylem-Group is still exploring a format for using FireTalk to hold their deliberations in a public forum. Our channel for the live events is at

This is a short introductory discussion. If you have any comments about the subject or the format we are exploring, you are welcome to post in the comments below. We’d prefer it if you’d comment using your real name. Note, the comments here are moderated.



Xylem on Firetalk. October 17, 2016

Xylem is continuing its exploration of a broadcasting platform. Here, we are using Firetalk.

In this episode, we are using the closed caption feature of Youtube to extract the text. We are wondering if it would make it easier for viewers to find the interesting parts of our discussion if they could review the text.

The text and timecodes of the parts of this episode, where we discussed how we might use Firetalk follows, below.

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Xylem Partners explore Firetalk

On Monday, October 10th, four of the Xylem Partners assembled to explore and discover the features and opportunities of using Firetalk. Here are the results of our deliberations.

One of our challenges has been to make it possible for a viewer to find the nuggets that occur during these events. The above video is exported from Firetalk to Robert’s desktop. In a video editor he adjusted the lip-sync and then exported the file to Youtube. By allowing closed captions and including the tag yt:cc=on Google added captions automatically. It is possible (but not at all obvious) to export the captions. The captions can be observed in the above video. Below is the text of the captions for the beginning of the event. The edited transcript of the first eight minutes is below (this was an experiment, so the whole event was not transcribed).

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