Friday, June 10, 2011

Overheard (and overdue): June 10

It seems I've done a lot of apologizing lately for failing to keep my weekly commitment to share favorite governance resources. I'll try to make amends with a long, rich list of enticing and informative gems.

The challenge of organizational learning (Katie Smith Milway and Amy Saxton)

You know you'll see a full post on this one. (I can't help myself.) In the meantime, I'll whet your appetite with this article. Any high-visibility discussion of nonprofit learning is a good thing. The model Milway and Saxton share is layperson-friendly: you don't need an education degree to understand what they are describing. Focus is, obviously, the organization. I'll be writing a post targeting board learning specifically. Soon.

Diversity in governance: A toolkit for nonprofit boards (Maytree)

Boards may understand generally the need for attention to diversity in member recruitment. Knowing how to initiate the conversation and develop a process that addresses that need and leads them to meaningful engagement of new members is not so easy for most. This toolkit provides boards with a starting point that they should find valuable.

Building a better board (Tanya Howe Johnson)

My favorite part of this post is Tanya's bullet-pointed description of "an efficient and energized board" toward the end. What she describes should be considered new member orientation material. I can predict, though, that elements of her list - and maybe the entire list - will surprise any board member. Bullet point one, "spends the bulk of discussion on critical issues and planning for the future," is the essence of governance. Bullet point two, not letting committee work overtake board work, can be tough - especially for a board of "doers." The rest of her list helps boards to structure their work for success.

Governing boards - Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp 2011 (Emily Chan)

While we anxiously await audio versions of this year's Boot Camp presentations, Emily offers a terrific summary of one that will readers of this blog will wish they had attended. Read closely her summary of the presenters' "tips for strategic recruitment."

Has your nonprofit board been neutered? (Carlo Cuesta)

My admiration for Carlo begins with his ability to write a great headline. Once this one draws you in, Carlo poses questions destined to take boards deeper into their role as stewards of the vision and mission. While the entire post is powerful, I love his opening question: "Does the quality of this discussion match the quality of people?"

Building successful nonprofit boards (Elmire Bayrasli)

The interviewee, Lucy Marcus, drew me to this Forbes post. Lucy is one of those governance voices to whom I always listen. Boards grow when they pay heed to her counsel. This article spotlights Lucy's wisdom and governance expertise. (Note: you may see an ad when you first click on the article link. It's worth the second click.)

Recruiting entrepreneurial leadership (Anne Ackerson)

Anne not only makes a case for recruiting entrepreneurial minds to your nonprofit board, she provides a frame to mine for those qualities. I appreciate that. One of the most vexing, and basic, challenges of recruiting beyond demographics is not knowing how to legitimately query recruits for qualities and perspectives that are not visible. Anne offers a useful example and a basic process for recruiting for this specific criterion.

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