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On the Value of "Running for the Board" and "Being on the Board" (TESTHEAD)

On July 31, 2015, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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I sit here now in Grand Rapids, Michigan, after what has been a rather “eventful” day.  It started with a very early morning flight, which was delayed due to mechanical trouble, which turned my 90 minute layover in Dallas into a 13 minute layover and a mad dash to get off the plane, get onto the SkyTrack train, get to my gate, and while gasping for breath answer “yes, I’m Michael Larsen, I’m here, please don’t give up my seat” I now sit in a hotel room waiting for the logistics of the upcoming weekend and majority of m=next week to take place.

Since 2011, I have been a member of the Board of Directors with the Association for Software Testing. On Wednesday, we will read off a new list of board members, and for the first time in four years, my name will not be one of them. I explained why this was the case a couple of months back, but it’s becoming much more real now. This CAST in Grand Rapids will be a “last hurrah” of sorts.

First, I want to say that I have enjoyed my time in this role, but like all things, I believe it is important that others step up and that those of us who have been here awhile be willing to step aside. The organization has new challenges and it deserves new energy from new players.

There are several great candidates vying for positions on the board. Currently, we have seven people running for three seats. That’s exciting to see, because it means several people want to make a difference. It’s also bittersweet, because it means four excellent people will not get to serve this year. to those who do not make it on the board this year, I heartily encourage you to run again.

I’ve often joked that being on the board is a bit like being in the military during war time. Most of the time, there are low level details that always need to be taken care of, punctuated by moments of high excitement and, often, accompanies by sheer terror. Fortunately those moments are only occasional, but they do happen.

Ben Yaroch posted a tweet today that really does draw the distinction, both of what is required, and why I feel the time has come for me to step aside:

There’s lots of great ideas. We’ve had many of them. Great ideas by themselves, though, don’t accomplish anything. They need people ready, willing and able to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work. I don’t think there has ever been an issue with the willing. Ready and able have proven to be genuine challenges at times.

There have been some great blog posts from several of the candidates as to what they hope to be able to do to help AST meet its vision going forward. I encourage everyone to have a good look at the candidates and see what their proposals are, and how their proposals can help shape and even change what AST is and does. Note that the Board is not made of of people that tell others what to do. When you decide to run for the Board, you are saying that you ware willing to roll up your sleeves and be the one “doing the doing”. Often, that can be more difficult than it sounds, and progress can be very slow at times, but if persistent, it can and does happen.

Pete Walen wrote an open letter to the board candidates and members of AST, and rather than try to repeat what he said, I’m going to just quote it here, as it’s exactly my sentiment as well:

“When considering the candidates for Board positions this year, look at the candidates’ Biographies. Read them carefully. Google them. Google their organizations. If you are at CAST, look for them before voting and chat with them in the hall. Ask them (in person or by email) “In what way will you do the things you said you want AST to do? How will you go about making that happen?”

Then look for the people with a track record of doing things. It is people who do things that we, as an organization, need leading us.”

 

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