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

Bill Woodcock woody at pch.net
Fri Apr 6 14:40:14 EDT 2018

There have, for a long time, been a minority of ARIN board members who believe that increasing board size will somehow magically fix problems of diversity, representation, or mediocrity.  And so they keep bringing it up for discussion.  Again, and again, and again, without a respite between.

I’ve served on many boards, including ones much smaller than ARIN’s (several boards of three people) and ones much larger (once as many as 22).  I’ve found that, without exception, the larger the board, the less functional it is.  At seven, ARIN’s board has always (at least in the fifteen years I sat on it) struggled with keeping all members engaged and contributing productively. It’s been rare that more than four or five members were really paying attention to the issues we needed to work on, showing up for meetings, and speaking their minds.

Likewise, the ARIN board has a diversity problem, the one that led me to conclude that, as yet-another-white-guy, I could not in good faith continue to participate in the board until it represented our membership in gender and national origin.  Increasing the board size does not increase diversity.  In the last election, every seat which could possibly have been given to a white guy was given to a white guy.  More seats doesn’t change that, it just means a bigger, even less functional, echo chamber.

Really, at its base, the problem I have is with mediocrity and poor decision-making.  A larger board makes those problems worse, just as a board which excludes all but one gender and race makes those problems worse.

So.  Don’t fall for the red-herring “bigger board will improve diversity.”  There’s no connection, it doesn’t, you can do the math yourself.

Ask yourself instead, “what problem, if any, would this solve?”  I’ve asked that question each time it’s been brought up, and I’ve never received an answer.

The unstated reason, that it would allow more friends of the current in-group to add another check-box item to their resumes, is never advanced.

In the absence of a really good reason for doing it, the huge cost of decreased effectiveness shouldn’t be incurred.


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