February 19, 2020

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Eric Phinney

Tradition or Renewal?

Is your board a product of many years of tradition with a few tweaks thrown in by well-meaning experts or based on books read by members? Perhaps it is time for an overhaul? But wait, things are working, sort of, and we wouldn’t want to change too much too fast. If you know there are problems but just don’t see the starting point for renewal, here are some practical steps to guide you on your way. 

  1. Have someone outside your organization help you identify the kind of board you are. There are many types of boards. Some have evolved over the years and are doing a variety of functions:  managing, governing, fund raising, and volunteering within the organization. You should realize that the role of governing includes legal requirements and it is essential you do that job well. Focusing on other functions such as management can detract from the board’s fiduciary responsibility to govern. It is healthy to ask the question, “Are we governing well?”  
  2. Ask, “How did we get this way?” This is important especially if you have determined that your board is less than optimal or perhaps falling short of some of its fiduciary duties. Having a third-party poke and prod and ask questions about your history might be more revealing than you think. 
  3. Time now to look under the hood and ask more questions. What results do you produce? To whom are you accountable at the end of the day? Many boards have mission, vision and values statements but these are not always actionable items. Is there a better way? How do you know if you are being successful?  What is going on in the rest of the world outside your organization? How does it affect you? 

It may become apparent there are some steps that could be taken to move your board to a much more healthy and productive state. 

Our experienced coaches can help your board by evaluating what you are currently doing in light of a principle-based system of governance, and help you take steps to renew your board’s focus and effectiveness. 

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