[ARIN-consult] Community Consultation on Increasing the Size of the ARIN Board of Trustees

John Curran jcurran at arin.net
Sat May 13 21:14:46 EDT 2017

On 13 May 2017, at 8:15 PM, Lee Howard <spiffnolee at yahoo.com<mailto:spiffnolee at yahoo.com>> wrote:
I just did a quick scan of Board minutes for the past year, and every single motion passed unanimously/all in favor. The only exceptions were abstentions where a Board member would be affected (such as approving elections in which they were a candidate). Only one motion (I think) even required amendment before passing unanimously.  ...

This is a potential sign of "groupthink," where people go along with what the group seems to want, rather than challenge the consensus. One way to fight groupthink is to include people with diverse perspectives.

Lee -

<chuckle>   I can assure you that we have anything other than a complacent Board,
or one suffering from “groupthink”…   While many topics are quite routine in nature,
there are also often topics that enjoy very vigorous and/or contentious discussion.
I very much support your conclusion (more Board trustees of diverse background is
good thing), but not because I believe it will make the voting results any different but
because I believe it will help make sure that the breadth of experience brought the
discussions is sufficiently broad.

As you may recall from your time on Board, you know that I often would suggest that
making a decision where there are highly contentious viewpoints was premature if time
allows us to do otherwise, and instead suggest pursuing further research into points
raised in discussion so as to return later with a more comprehensive presentation on
the matter.  We have also deferred making decisions (where time allows) so that Board
members could go off and do their own research,  speak with the community, etc.

By way of example, the very topic of this consultation (expanding the Board size as one
means of potentially improving diversity) has been discussed by the Board no fewer
than 5 times previously (with various follow-up work for either for staff or the Board
Governance committee) before being brought forth last week for the recent vote...

Stability is of critical importance to the Internet number registry system, and that favors
full deliberation and understanding before major decisions.  Given the high intellectual
calibre of the Board members, it should not be surprising that the Board position is often
the result of convergence from vigorous discussion and solid understanding of the matter
at hand (even to the point where Board members are generally able to describe the path
that we collectively did not take and the reasons why…)

One additional important takeaway with regard to your email is that it nicely highlights
why an even number of Board members is not particularly problematic, since in practice
we don’t see many decisions that come down to be decided based on single trustee’s
vote –  that’s a good thing, since the Board making a decision on such a narrow margin
would be amiss if time allows for more consideration.  Making contentious changes to
ARIN’s registry services based on narrow margins is a perfect setup for later capricious
reversal, with both our members and the entire Internet community suffering as a result.


John Curran
President and CEO

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