Agenda Item One: Fish and chips on the porch

Our new podcast series, led by Bob Thust of Practical Governance, reads between the lines of the traditional board meeting minutes to explore what’s really going on. In this episode: excuses we make not to invite the people we’re meant to be supporting to join our board


What really goes on in a boardroom?

By drawing on the real-life experiences of social purpose leaders, our new Agenda Item One series aims to challenge the conventional thinking and outdated governance practices seen all too often in today’s boardrooms.

In this first episode, Bob is joined by Maff Potts, founder of the social movement Camerados, and Jess Steele OBE, director of Jericho Road Solutions. While ‘agenda item one’ is focused on who does and doesn’t get a seat at the board table, the debate delves much further into topics from radical transparency to the governance of ideas over organisations, and even the rather alarming ‘tyranny of structurelessness’.

Jess Steele, community activist and founding trustee of Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust, shares the importance of reducing the social distance between board members and those people organisations are there to support.

“If you don’t have conflicts of interest then you don’t have interest, and then you’re distant,” she argues. “What we need to be talking about is people with a direct interest and they should be involved.”

With great power comes great responsibility. You have the power to change lives, so get humble and get responsible

As the debate draws to a close, Maff makes a plea to boards and funders – suggesting that Spiderman has the answer: “With great power comes great responsibility. You have the power to change lives, so get humble, get responsible, and come out of your ivory towers.”

It’s argued that in the end more hanging out – spending time ‘on the porch’ – is needed to help build trust, alongside more ‘time in fish and chip shops rather than dinner parties’.

So while you’re pondering fish and chips on the porch with Spiderman, here’s our plea to you: join the ‘Agenda Item One’ conversation.


Have you witnessed boardroom discussions similar to those you’ve heard in the podcast? Do you have other boardroom experiences you’d like to share? Practical advice that you’d be willing to contribute? Or ideas for future agenda items as part of this series? Get in touch, take part in a future podcast and join the conversation. Email or tweet #Agenda1

Podcast produced by Caroline Hailstone, article written by Victoria Maltby

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