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. [cwh]

When board members fail to show up for a meeting

On Monday, October 1, 2018, Sherry S Jennings discussed with John Bruce the strategies he uses when a legal board meeting has been called and some members fail to show up.

The primary issue is that if 100% of the board is not present, then the culture of the board is skewed away from the opinions and wisdom of the missing members. Does this mean that the meeting must be postponed? As John Bruce explains, it depends on the issues that are anticipated by the agenda.

They were joined in the Chatroom by Robert J Ballantyne.
Click for a popup window of the Chat Room <<

Summary of topics discussed:

  • 1:20 About the meeting quorum – don’t waste the opportunity of meeting with the people who are in attendance just because others members fail to show up.
  • 2:05 Consider the agenda and who is present.
  • 2:55 Respect for absent members, as well as what is appropriate ethical behaviour?
  • 6:50 The importance of communicating to those who are absent, and should the chair raise issues on their behalf?
  • 9:00 Does the chair decide what is appropriate, or does the group?
  • 12:44 Chair as facilitator vs. chair as participant.
  • 13:13 Time on a topic vs. quality of discussion.
  • 14:05 Is deliberately proceeding without certain people in attendance Machiavellian?
  • 17:40 What if someone is chronically absent?
  • 18:46 Those not present should stay current with board reading materials.
  • 20:00 Windup.

Does the non-profit Board have a role in Strategic Planning?

On Monday, November 14, 2017, Sherry S Jennings talked to Linda Stier and John Bruce about the role the board of a non profit organization might play in the Strategic Planning process.

They were joined in the Chat Room by Robert J Ballantyne.
Click for a popup window of the Chat Room <<

Some observations about this experiment

Google’s YouTube has done a fair job of adding the closed caption text of the discussion. Some people might find it easier, or more entertaining, to follow the conversation by clicking the “cc” button at the bottom of the video screen, and then watching the text along with listening to the participants.

If you stumbled upon this episode, the Xylem-Group has two objectives here. One is to have a conversation, and share it with whomever might find it instructive. Second, we are also experimenting with online platforms whereby we will be able to invited anyone who is interested in these explorations to attend online and comment in that Chat Room. We were using the now-defunct Blab software in 2016. We are now using Zoom for the live event. For this posting the recording has been edited with some titles and music. The process is a bit arduous, but we seem to be close to figuring out how to do it, and at a reasonable cost.

Sometime soon we will be announcing upcoming online conversation where you may participate. Please check back to this website.

What Value is Provided by the Nonprofit Board?

On July 10, 2017, Linda Stier and John Bruce of the Xylem-Group explored the value that can be provided to an organization by its board.

They were joined in the Chat Room by Sherry S Jennings and Robert J Ballantyne.
Click for a popup window of the Chat Room <<

John argues that the board governs for its ‘owners,’ and they decide whether the board is adding value. John talks about his experience being on the 30-person board of a community college where it took him a couple of years to understand the culture. It took him a long time to realize the the board didn’t really know why the members where there. From the chat room, John is asked if the board members should try to fit in with the culture of the board, or should each behave the way each thinks is right? In another anecdote, and on another board, he recalled protecting an employee who was receiving unreasonable demands from the vice chair of the board. He talked about the distinction between management and the board and role-clarity.

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.