It is 4:10 PM. The chair looks pleased. Only two members are missing this time. Five of the seven are present. It could have been worse. “Let’s start”, the chair says, “We have a quorum.” The mutual small talk continues for a while. “Let’s start”, he says again. Only two board members are still chatting, heads bent towards each other. “Come on people”, the chair says, “We have a long agenda”.
The first five items go quickly: opening, establishing who takes the minutes (for twelve years this has been executive secretary Myrna), incoming items, outgoing items, additional agenda items (only three this time). Including these three, the agenda now has 19 items. 5 down, excellent!
The sixth item: the text of the minutes. Maduro, as always, studied the text minutely. No typo escaped him. Patiently, the chair works through the dry enumeration. It takes fifteen minutes. Some board members look bored. Others are sending messages on their phone.
The seventh item on the agenda is: comments following the minutes. Verstappen (who has been a member for more than seven years), asks to speak. He was not present at the previous meeting. He disagrees with a number of resolutions that were adopted. He gives detailed reasons for this. According to him, new research should be conducted. A heated discussion ensues.
Josine Bokma (secretly called “Bokita” by her fellow board members) feels it is “totally ridiculous” that a discussion that has already been held at the previous meeting is now being held again on the initiative of someone who was not there! The others disagree. New insights are always valuable. Several people start talking quite loudly. The chair raises his arms. It has little effect. He stands up. “People, people”, he says. “This is not working.” “We will discuss this item at the next meeting.”
The director reports that he has already followed up on the resolution. It falls silent. The chair is resolute, “You reverse that,” he says, “We decide what happens.” Noise ensues again, several people talking at cross purposes, some in loud voices. The chair uses his gavel, which he rarely does. “Next item!”, he shouts. The quarterly figures. The director explains them with twenty-five slides. The presentation goes on for half an hour. Verstappen asks why sales lagged behind by 0.2 per mille. The director says he is very pleased with the stable result. In these post-Covid-19 times, this is very good. Verstappen asks for a memorandum on the deterioration. Everyone agrees.
The next item is the culture of the organization. That is on the agenda at the request of one of the board members who is not present. It is being pushed to the next meeting. Josine Bokma disagrees. “We have already postponed this three times now”, she says.
A discussion ensues. There are four people who ask to speak. By now it is 6:00 PM. Myrna presents a large tray of take-out meals. Everyone starts eating. After half an hour, the meeting resumes. After a 25-minute discussion, the chair says that enough is enough now. “We are going to vote”, he says. The votes are tied. “Then I decide”, the chair says. Josine has meanwhile pulled out the articles of incorporation of the organization. “You do not have that right”, she reports calmly, “It is not in the articles of incorporation”. “The chair decides the order!”, shouts Maduro. Hullabaloo all over again. After a few minutes, the chair calls for a good night’s sleep. By now it is almost 8:00 PM. “We adjourn and reconvene next week”. No one objects. The board members take the leftovers from the meal home. Josine Bokma stays put for a while. “That was not a bad meeting”, the chair says to her.