September 16, 2020


Paul Zilz

Strategic Importance of Effective Board Education

The Jewish Torah tells a compelling story of a Middle Eastern shepherd encountering a bush that burns but is not consumed. The shepherd, known by the name of Moses, was curious and approached the bush only to be called in a new direction by the God known by the Jewish people as Yahweh. This encounter led to Moses taking an entirely new life path that led him into the heart of Egypt to confront Pharaoh and to lead the enslaved Jewish people out of Egypt as directed and protected by Yahweh. 

Nice story, but how does it relate to boards and their education? Consider the following: Is your board inquisitive and humble, like Moses, when it comes to understanding the risks facing the organization and the strategic direction of the organization? More specifically, how does your board consistently develop insights into both the desired outcomes it seeks for intended beneficiaries served by the organization as well as emerging risks it seeks to govern appropriately? And is your board ready to consider that additional knowledge and insight might lead to governing differently and toward a different strategic direction? 

Effective board education is strategically essential in order to help a board consider the appropriate results it intends the organization to accomplish for targeted beneficiariesto ensure it is properly governing (emerging) risks, and to develop and maintain a high level of governance excellence. 

Does your board have a section on each meeting agenda dedicated to effective board education? It should, if it wants to develop and maintain governance excellence, stay ahead of the curve strategically, and not be blindsided by risks that could have been anticipated. 

Here are four ideas to jump-start your efforts to improve your board’s knowledge and insight: 

  1. Ask those who are “invested” long term in your organization, such as long-term individual donors and members of the community, about the difference the organization should be making in the lives of targeted beneficiaries. 
  1. Ask knowledge experts to provide the board with insight into emerging cyber, health, and legal risks facing the organization. 
  1. Ask a futurist to provide the board with insights that might affect the strategic direction of the organization. 
  1. Hire a governance expert to help coach your board toward governance excellence. 

Like Moses, be prepared that such inquisitiveness and humility may lead your board down paths unexpected yet highly rewarding.  

The board’s role is to govern in such a way as to strategically direct and protect the organization. Take the next step! Contact us to have an experienced governance coach help your board improve its governing effectiveness so that the organization you serve is strategically relevant over the long-term.  

Nothing less is at stake than the difference your organization should make in the lives of the people it serves! 



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Assessing Monitoring Reports

Course Orientation February 28 with live sessions March 13 and March 27

Introduction to Policy Governance®

Course Orientation March 6 with live sessions March 20 and April 10

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