Archive: Standard Operating Procedures
Original: May 2014
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) must, above all, facilitate or make easy the work of the Council. This requires a few simple and straightforward rules. Too many rules and requirements, in the end, hinder progress.
The group of chapter Representatives will be known as the Council of Chapters of the Florida Native Plant Society, or the Council for short.
Chapters select one Representative to the Council in any manner consistent with their Bylaws and procedures. The Council urges an annual affirmation of the Chapter Representative by the Chapter, so that good quality representation is maintained and new, emerging, or bright members have an opportunity to represent the Chapter. All new Representatives will receive a password and introduction to the Council online, so that they can participate in online discussion and voting.
The Council Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary are known collectively as the Council Officers. They may serve the dual roles of being Board Directors and Council Officers. The maximum term in any one Council Office is four consecutive years. Officers must be Representatives. The Council Officers may, by a consensus of the Officers, create subcommittees and take other action to advance the work and initiatives of the Council. They are entrusted with latitude to do and delegate the work. With this trust comes the responsibility to be transparent and honest and to inform all Chapter Representatives of important developments.
• The Chair sets the Council meeting agenda and sends it to Chapter Representatives at least 2 weeks prior to a scheduled Council meeting.
• The Chair leads Council meetings to create and maintain a pleasant meeting environment that balances the productive and the playful.
• The Chair communicates with all Society members: Board, Council, and Chapters and models good communication: timeliness, cooperation, and transparency.
• The Chair leads when others lag, becoming directive when necessary to further the Council agenda.
• The Chair pilots the Council Initiatives (see below).
Council Vice Chair
• No Chair is good at everything. The Vice Chair fills the leadership gaps, supports the Chair, and tries to understand and express the group will of the Representatives.
• The Vice Chair takes half the leadership workload.
• The Vice Chair serves as Chair in her or his absence.
• The Vice Chair is timekeeper during meetings in such a way as to allow the group to get to what is important, but mindful of its agenda. If necessary, the Vice Chair recommends that the group change the agenda to fit within the remaining time available to the group.
• The Secretary records and publishes a timely record of Council meetings.
• The Secretary takes direction from the Board Treasurer regarding keeping fiscal records for the Council.
• The Secretary provides instructions to facilitate the use of all adopted communication including: an up-to-date list of Representatives with their preferred email address, their phone number (optional), subcommittee membership and leader, how to initiate and join audio calls and video conference calls, online discussion, and online voting.
• The Secretary monitors, records, and publishes votes and polls with a mind for transparency and fairness. All meeting Motions and elections are recorded and published.
• The Secretary oversees Council entries to the FNPS calendar.
• The Secretary, especially, works with and makes recommendations to the SOP subcommittee to improve Council operations.
Council & Board Relationship
Unless specified otherwise, the Council of Chapters will be like a Board Committee in its basic relationship to the Board. That is, the Council works with and for the whole organization, under the same Bylaws, and aligned with policies and initiatives established for the whole organization. Its focus may be different from the Board’s reflecting the interests of the Chapters.
All regular meetings of the Council (live or online) shall be scheduled one year in advance. Subcommittee meetings (live and online) are usually posted at least a month in advance. Whether other events and meeting are scheduled a year or a month in advance (to give members sufficient notice) will be a matter of reasonableness depending on the type of event or need for prompt action. Only in unusually urgent cases will one week be sufficient notice.
Election of Officers occurs bi-annually at a regular meeting of the Council from a slate of nominees who have agreed to serve. A separate vote for each Office (Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary) shall be taken. The highest number of votes from the Representatives in attendance determines the election winner; a tie for highest vote requires a runoff. Anyone who represents the Council on the Board (whether an Officer or not) must be so elected (except appointees under the Council Vacancies provision below). Online Council Voting procedures are to be in place to establish sufficient transparency and fairness for the second bi-annual election of Officers and for subsequent elections.
Vacancies in Council Officers shall be filled by appointment by the remaining Officer(s). A majority of Representatives may (but are not required to) call for an interim online election for the vacant Office including any person appointed and any additional nominees. At least thirty days notice of an interim election is required.
Representatives are asked to be wise in achieving a balance between, on the one hand: freedom of expression, dissent, individuality, minority opinion, passionate concern, and on the other hand: abuse toward others, disruption of the group process, egregious behavior bringing discredit to the Council or FNPS. A majority of Representatives may vote to censure a Representative up to and including a request for resignation as Representative.
[Awaiting the Meetings Group input to summarize the a framework for the Council meetings.]
Council Subcommittees should not mimic Board Committees, but should support work on Council Initiatives (see below). Subcommittees need to be entrusted to prepare recommendations to the Council for their vote. Rather than hammer out details in meetings, the Council should adopt a meeting style that approves, defeats, or returns proposals to subcommittee with recommendations. This style is important to reduce the tedium of meetings and focus discussion on the overall strategies and initiatives.
[Awaiting the Communication Group input to summarize a framework for Council Communication, simplifying and publishing how-to, suggestions, and instructions for phone, video, email, and other online communication that is likely to become increasing useful to the Council. Council operational procedures will be an evolving, useful reference page on the FNPS website accessible to Representatives.]
Online Council Discussions
[Online Council group discussions, need to be easy and natural online. We will experiment and work with Shirley Denton find what works best. Online discussion is a way of discussing things when we are not together in a live meeting.]
Online Council Votes
[The Forum is a good platform for Council voting. We will work with Shirley Denton to provide clear instructions and procedures to announce, conduct, and publish voting results. As with all procedures, our goal is to make it easy to vote or poll Representatives.]
The Council shall establish three initiatives annually to be the heart of the Council’s work. The three initiatives should be sufficiently different from one another to address different needs. For example, initiatives might be in three categories: 1) something operationally necessary, 2) something to the heart of plant conservation, 3) and something that captures the current interests and excitement of the Representatives.
Council Region Groups
[Awaiting the Meetings Group input to summarize the a framework for the Regional groups and their relationship to the Council and Society as a whole.]
Changes to Standard Operating Procedures
A majority of Representatives have the right to vote to establish, remove, or replace any procedure. Normally, however, the Council should not exercise this right, but rather make recommendation to the subcommittee for improvements in the SOP as needed. The Council may (but is not required to) annually affirm the SOP as written, or make recommendations for procedural improvements.
In other words, let the SOP be evolving and responsive to the operational needs of the Representatives throughout the year. Entrust the SOP subcommittee (and the other subcommittees as well) to be wise and knowledgeable enough to do the detailed work asked of them, and let the Council as a whole focus on the big picture.