Management Case Study #1 – update1

Events at the HOA featured in this study continue to unfold. The board has been silent since the Dec. 16 email from the president. A question was addressed to the Executive Administrator of CAM asking whether or not she was in charge. The general manager (GM) had quit and there was no announcement whatsoever as to the status of CAM. She was listed on the staff of CAM, without any statement regarding the status of the GM.

In 2 days of this writing, Dec. 30, the SCG will hold a planned Q & A session where members can ask the BOD questions, sort of a townhall meeting. Would you advise the BOD to hold the meeting? If so, how should it deal with hard questions concerning its past performance?

January 2022 will see the campaign and election of board directors, and the right of members to write-in names of members not approved or subject to the SCG election and voting process. The BOD controls and approves the selection of “candidates” and regulates their campaign procedures — can they speak at clubs, what can be said, failure to attend a meeting disqualifies a potential candidate, etc.

A majority of the directors will be elected at this time, as a result of resignations, permitting an organized membership to gain control of the board. As in the case of our national politics, should the old BOD deny the results — as it seems to be the posture it is taking — or accept the reality of the vote?

Management Case Study #1 — BOD good faith conduct

George K. Staropoli

December 22, 2021

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”

(Wizard of OZ)

As applied to HOA-Land, the “man” is the BOD manipulating and controlling the images, propaganda, and marketing designed to placate the wants and desires of the members.

The task

For this case study, you have been engaged to advise the BOD as to its conduct in deciding these difficult and controversial  issues, and are free to comment on any or all aspects of the problem situation. What will you advise?  The  value of your recommendations lies in the quality of your supporting arguments.

Put your management/BD skills to work and join the study. It is very important for the learning process to share your recommendations with others here, and to accept their constructive criticism. You can reject, modify, or remove your recommendations. This approach sharpens your thinking and helps you make a more solid case for HOA reforms.

What does “HOA” really mean?

What are we talking about when we hear “I live in an HOA” or “what are my HOA fees?” Allow me to clarify some important concepts and definitions that I have employed to help in understanding what we are really talking about.

  • The term “HOA” is commonly used in 2 different aspects.
    • While commonly used to refer to the alleged community, in reality the “community” is a real estate “package” of homes, landscaping, amenities, and rules.
    • “HOA” more aptly applies to the association itself, which is the de facto – in fact – political governing body of the subdivision or real estate “package.”
  • “Government,” meaning political government, is defined in its general sense as “the person or group that controls and regulates the people within a territory.” Since your subdivision is a territory, that makes the HOA a truly political government.
  • “Private government” is a de facto government as defined above not incorporated under municipal statutes but under nonprofit corporation statutes. As such, it is a functioning government unrecognized by the state as Cuba had been for years.
  • “Quasi-government” simply means for all intents and purposes having all the attributes of a municipal government, except the names have been changed to mislead the innocent public.
  • “HOA-Land” is my descriptive term for “the collection of fragmented independent principalities within America, known in general as “HOAs,” that are separate local private governments not subject to the constitution, and that collectively constitute a nation within the United States.”
  • “Structured tribalism.” Tribalism is a term currently in vogue to describe divisiveness in America. “Structured tribalism” extends that view to describe the intentionally planned policy for the acceptance and control of HOA-Land.[1] It views the fragmented HOA-Land as distinct villages and clans.

When I speak of restructuring the HOA, I am referring to the authoritarian, undemocratic body functioning outside of constitutional protections, and making it a democratic government subject to homeowner constitutional protections.

HOA case study approach vs focus groups

The more familiar focus group methodology stands in sharp contrast to the Case Study approach, which is a top-down, managerial process, while focus groups are a bottoms-up approach to provide guidance to decision-makers. The key aspect here is how does the researcher use the data gathered, which is dependent on the depth and quality of its subsequent analysis.

An important caveat:  focus groups can be used to advance personal agendas by shaping the content of the issue or conditions to be studied and/or the phrasing and wording of the questions asked.  There is generally no debate between the respondents questions or criticizing their views.

HOA Case Study Overview

Simply put, the case method is a discussion of real-life situations that business facing executives.  IT IS AN EDUCATIONAL PROCESS FOR ALL HOA MEMBERS and will help in becoming a more meaningful, relevant, and productive participant in the governance of your HOA.   It is members only and independent of any HOA approval or regulations.

If properly conducted, the outcome  should provide your BOD with solutions that have much more merit than listening to the views gathered at focus groups or Q & A sessions (workshops, fireside chats, meet the board, etc.).

The method consists of being presented with a real event or issue or a case facing an executive – president, BOD, committee chair — and asking a question or two regarding what you would decide. As you review each case, you’ll put yourself in the shoes of the key decision maker, analyze the situation, and decide what you would do to address the challenges.   

Importantly, there is the requirement to present your views or opinions before the study group (online participants), and  after a discussion with other group participants you will be asked to volunteer your decision and reasons why.  If you feel that your decision[s] have merit you can present them to the president or BOD as you feel comfortable.  It would be appropriate to indicate the basis for your recommendations, the HOA Case Study Group that you participated in.

How to participate in a meaningful and instructive manner.  YOU are the decision maker! What to do?  (Harvard Business School, Executive Education). 

Here’s your chance to deal effectively with HOA issues and resolve the problems in a practical  manner. No unsupported opinions, feelings, likes/hates, etc.

  • What are the most important issues being raised?
  • Each case begins with a text description followed by exhibits. Ask yourself: What is the case generally about, and what information do I need to analyze?
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the case protagonist, and own that person’s problems. Ask yourself: What basic problem is this executive trying to resolve?
  • What recommendations should I make based on my case data analysis?

. . . .

Why are focus groups used?

(Copley Focus Centers)

“Focus Groups are generally used to gather people’s opinions, ideas, and beliefs on a certain topic or product.  While surveys or questionnaires can be useful, they can not capture what a person is thinking or feeling.  This is where a focus group will come into play. . . .  The main purpose of focus group research is to draw upon respondents’ attitudes, feelings, beliefs, experiences and reactions in a way where other methods are not applicable.

“Focus Groups are generally used when there is little or no knowledge about the target market.  Most commonly Focus Groups are used when a new . . .  service is being developed and the company is not sure how the public will react.  In this instance, a Focus Group is conducted to get opinions, ideas, suggestions, and reactions before the product or service is available to the public.  Once the information is gathered, changes may be applied to the service or product to make sure that it will be received well by the target audience.”

HOAs against protected member speech on social media

In contrast to the authoritative evidence supporting free speech for HOA members criticizing their BODs, the Tinnelly Law firm blog states up front in big letters, “HOA LAWYER BLOG.”  As for the content, the following quote sums up the view of the Tinnellys.

“The lack of regulation on social media communications can cause neighborhood tensions and smear the reputation of a community, causing a negative effect on property values.  This has led many homeowners associations to develop protocols and guidelines with regard to social media. “

(Some research shows Tinnelly is solid CAI with the owners, Richard and Stephen Tinnelly as members, as well as Director Acosta and article attribution to lawyer Kim.)

Read the full 4-page paper at social media free speech