Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Board Building Cycle

In my years of work with nonprofit boards, I’ve encountered a handful of writings and tools that stand out above all others in their creativity and applicability to the real organizational lives of these governing bodies. One of those seminal models is the Board Building Cycle (BBC).

The Board Building Cycle, developed by Marla J. Bobowick, Berit Lakey, and Sandra R. Hughes for the National Center for Nonprofit Boards (now BoardSource), offers a framework for understanding the complex processes required to develop strong, proactive governing and advisory boards.

The BBC offers a thought-provoking way to understand the factors that impact board performance. Understanding is the first step toward enhancing that performance. Most boards manage to engage in activities that produce most factors, though with varying levels of success. Generally, individual boards may show strength in one or more phases of the cycle and struggle with others.

Over the next three weeks, I will share my interpretations of each phase of the BBC cycle. I also will offer some application recommendations for both veteran and newer nonprofit boards, and some basic questions to initiate meaningful discussions about each stage of the cycle.

* Graphic reprinted with permission from The Board Building Cycle, by Marla J. Bobowick, Berit Lakey, and Sandra R. Hughes, Copyright 2000, National Center for Nonprofit Boards. For more information about NCNB (now BoardSource) call 800-883-6262 or visit

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