By the Way, Bylaws Again (really?)

  And thank you very much!

And thank you very much!

Preface: Watch your inbox during the week of May 2 for an important special vote request for CSI members. Visit www.csinet.org/bylawsreferendum for all the details.

BYLAWS – They rank right up there with reading your insurance policy, right? Or seeing all the fine print before clicking the “I Agree” box when you download some update to a program you already have. You know there are probably important things in there, but it’s hard to bring yourself to read the whole thing.

First of all, it’s just for the Institute Bylaws, not for any of our chapters and regions. You can rest now. But consider the 5 paragraphs below for why we hope these revised Bylaws will allow CSI to forge ahead more strongly into the future.

PROGRESS – The Board has taken a hard look at the management structure of our beloved CSI. Bylaws define our structure. The 21st century is bringing many new factors to bear on member organizations like ours. We are responding but very slowly. Membership is half of what it was in 2001. It’s like there is a new energy crisis, but this time it’s our organizational energy. The Bylaws changes are intended to allow the Board to serve the organization with much more flexibility, creativity, and nimbleness.

EFFICIENCY – The Bylaws have labored under excessively narrow provisions well beyond basic structure. The update greatly streamlines duties of key officers to what they are intended to accomplish on behalf of the organization, rather than to list in detail their tasks. A page of insurance policy provisions has been reduced to one paragraph. The 4 C’s of CSI have been refreshingly used in this update. It is organized efficiently and will be legally current.

CULTURE – Organizations like ours are moving towards a corporate management model and away from a bureaucracy of offices/titles. We now manage with great overlap of Executive Director, President, President-Elect and VP’s, other officers…and also the Board. The new structure IS the Board, and the Board Chair, Chair-elect, (no VP’s), Secretary, and Treasurer will keep the Board on track with big goals for CSI. Not micro-management of the details. The Executive Director title? – now CEO. Like corporations, the Board will set the direction and end results, and the CEO is enabled to act and accountable for it.

MORE EFFICIENCY – Currently every year the Board turns over half of its Directors and has completely new leadership from a newly anointed/elected President, VP’s, and other officers. Everyone proceeds with their agenda, and may also proceed to influence staff in a million directions. Directors get started feeling comfortable with their roles and fellow Board members, and suddenly it’s time for another election. VP’s have a title and no formal roles. We propose longer terms for the key officers (Chair and Chair-elect) and Board members (Directors). And no VP’s. Better focus and continuity.

ACCOUNTABILITY – How do we decide to have new programs (or even discontinue old ones) without meaningful measurement and reporting on performance? How do you, the members, assess the real value of CSI when your renewal comes every year? Younger generations want to know. The Board wants itself to be more accountable to members, and staff (via the CEO) to be more accountable to the Board. As part of the Board policy update, you should expect much more concrete review and evaluation on a frequent basis. And much more opportunity to give meaningful feedback.

Yes, there are Bylaws redlines if you care to wade through them. Far more deletions than new paragraphs. Or just read the new streamlined version. I hope you will contact me or give feedback on the Institute website www.csinet.org/bylawsreferendum. I plan to answer questions and hear concerns from each of our chapter boards in their May meetings.

The CSI Board of Directors is excited (and unanimous) in recommending your approval of these changes. More than ever, your vote counts!