Hiya ... now that election season at (ISC)2 has started again, some of you may ask the very valid question "I voted for this Belgian guy and I didn't see much happening ... why should I vote for this or that new petitioner. It won't make a difference anyway."
While I do understand that the members that supported me in my succesful bid for a board petition deserve at least a status report, I'm caught between a rock and a hard place here. As a board member you do sign an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) that doesn't allow you to specifically discuss board matters outside the board room. With 13 different people on the board, trust is a basic component to get things done. I can personally subscribe to this NDA and that's why I signed it. It's very similar to maintaining a relationship with my customers. If we don't have that basic sense of confidentiality, we won't get much done.
First off, I'm one person among thirteen. Anybody that has googled the term "representative democracy" understands that in such a system, which (ISC)2 clearly is, a single person can not make a change. Assuming that the current composition of the board represents the membership, there is always at least a majority required to make a decision. That means that if I would submit a motion (read Robert's Rules of Order if you want the details on how making a decision actually works ...) I will need to convince at least 6 others to support that motion (depending on what kind of motion it is and when it is submitted, it can require a 2/3rd majority and sometimes even an unanimous vote).
So, what did I do in the past year?
While I've been a member for quite some time, I (like most of you) didn't get closer to the organisation than submitting AMFs and CPEs before I decided to run a petition. My first task (as I interpreted it) was to learn to understand the organisation. There is a clear difference between a board (member) and management. As a board member I am not responsible to run the organisation. The board (as representing the members) own the certifications and does set out the strategy for the organisation. Management is responsible to execute that strategy. I build relationships with my fellow board members, members of the management team and members of staff. This included learning from board members with more seniority than me, spending time with members of the management team to understand their challenges and listening to members of staff to learn how they interact with you, the members.
So, now that I 'understand' the organisation, I can start functioning as a board member, right? Not really :-) A board votes on issues presented to it. Issues are presented as motions by ... committees. In short, committees is where most of the work is done. There are standing committees and ad hoc committees. As a board member you can volunteer to be part of a committee. I personally volunteered for the nominations committee and the ethics committee as I understood both were important to execute on the platform I presented in my petition. I later joined that strategy committee and the foundation committee.
Now, here comes the tricky part. I don't see myself as a critical cog in any system. I may have my low self-esteem to blame for that but you see, everything will work perfectly without me. I'm not one to tout my own horn and take credit for anything that a system I'm part of has achieved. Another part is that whatever decision was made, it's not my task to implement and/or communicate it.
Based on my involvement in those committees mentioned above I think we have developed a well-balanced slate for this yeas elections, I stand behind every decision the ethics committee has made in cases presented to it, I'm happy with the new strategy we have developed (and that's in the process of being implemented, remember not by the board but by management) and I totally love the (ISC)2 Foundation and the difference it will make. In that regard I feel I made a difference in my first year, but I'm also conscious that this is not my work alone.
If today I'm writing this blog post, it is to support all members that have decided to run a petition to be included in the ballot for this years elections. Every member has a right to do this and if the member wants to make a difference, what holds them back? I think, if you are a member and one of the petitioners represents your thoughts with his or her platform, this person deserves your vote regardless of what you think of me or any other board member.
Again : this is MY story and doesn't represent the view of the board as a whole, any other board member or (ISC)2 as an organisation.
I would love to name the people within or outside the organisation that I've worked with to make change happen. This has included people with personal questions, organisational questions (e.g. how can non-profit orgs automatically submit CPE's for attendees?) and building bridges across different parts of our industry and organisations. Those people know who they are and what little or big difference my efforts have made. I'm not one to claim victory but I am one that won't stay in a role where I believe I can't make a difference. If I'm no longer a board member at (ISC)2 it will be because either my term has ended or because I have decided that my presence does not yield value for the membership anymore.