Saturday, August 22, 2009

Finding community in board practice

I've been wanting to share the highlights of my doctoral research with readers of this blog since completing my dissertation earlier this year, but finding ways to distill all of the fascinating detail into something appropriate for this platform has been more of a struggle than I anticipated.

If I wait for that perfect presentation venue to come to me, I'll never have a chance to share what I learned with boards and others who might benefit from this knowledge. In the end, I've decided to simply dive in and offer a rough outline of the work and the takeaway messages. The video below is my first attempt to articulate that publicly.

I welcome questions, feedback, etc., on what is offered. That, frankly, would be a service to me as I find ways to translate this work into resources that could be useful to working boards.


With the hard part now behind me, I look forward to expanding upon key components of my findings in future entries. Hold me to that promise!


mary martin said...

I enjoyed listening to this summary of your work... and appreciate how your organized your findings.
Where you able to ascertain ways boards build trust, which appears to be a major component of their capacity to function as a mission driven board?

Debra said...

Thanks for your feedback and for the question, Mary. On the trust component, I think there are a couple of key issues:

-- Careful deliberation about not only skills needed but interpersonal qualities in the recruitment process.

-- Modeling open discussions, respecting differing opinions, and coming to a decision they could all support (because there was consensus reached re: its fit to mission. That was absolutely critical).

There was a great example of the latter that emerged on its own, around a situation that happened before I began the research. The amazing thing is, virtually everyone raised it without prompting (it was a seminal moment in the board's life). They were facing a potentially contentious question about whether to begin providing a set of services that could be argued, either way, regarding its fit to mission.

It was interesting to hear how people on different sides of the issue described that event and how they were able to reach consensus, even/especially when the person speaking was on the side that did not prevail. Ultimately, there was a sense that (a) they were heard, (b) that the decision made was thoughtful and driven by the mission and, (c) that they could trust their peers - and the group as a whole - to continue to act in the best interest of the organization.

Gary W. Vollan said...

Nice presentation and resource. I'm looking forward to my second nonprofit class with you Professor Beck as my interest in nonprofit organizations continues to grow. Thank you for your dedication to your profession of teaching.

Debra said...

Your feedback means a lot, Gary, as does your willingness to assume a leadership role in our class. I'm looking forward to continuing our learning journey next semester. It's my favorite of the two classes, because we get to delve a bit further into the 'nuts and bolts' aspects of nonprofit management and leadership.