Sharing my favorite board-related links from the last week...
Is 5:30 the best time for a board meeting? Really? (Carlo Cuesta)
Carlo poses an important but seldom discussed question: Are we really meeting at a time that fosters active engagement and full member attention? I was fascinated by the question, and hopeful that it would generate some wide feedback - mostly because I believe that member fatigue or distraction is an unspoken challenge to effective meetings. There will be no one, perfect answer: unless "are you a morning person?" is part of your recruitment criteria, you'll likely have a mix of members who are most alert at very different times of the day. It's still appropriate to ask - and to adapt when necessary to ensure that you are engaging the largest number of members at a time when they are at their best for governance. By the way, I'd encourage you to comment on this entry and help to expand the discussion. I've not seen this conversation anywhere else, and it deserves some visibility.
The spotlight on nonprofit boards (Gene Takagi)
As often as boards obsess about the terrible things that could go wrong, I've found that most are generally unaware of their true legal/accountability expectations. They may encounter aspects of those responsibilities, but the larger picture remains a mysterious unknown. One of my favorite nonprofit legal minds, Gene Takagi, shares a great overview that should generate healthy discussion and spark further research. The blog where this is posted, where Gene and partner Emily Chan regularly write on these topics, is an excellent starting point. If you're not subscribed to their blog, and following them on Twitter (Gene, Emily), you need to do so, today. They constantly expand my understanding of nonprofit legal issues.
Getting people to change (Hildy Gottlieb)
Hildy always stretches me to think more expansively about what motivates people to act. The entire post offers great specifics about the challenges and facilitators to change. But she could have limited the post to this sentence and accomplished everything she intended: "...people will move mountains if they are inspired to do so." We can apply that to the larger community in which we operate. We also can apply that to the board itself. The next time we feel compelled to whine about the latest way that the board has let us down, ask this instead: How have we inspired them to move that mountain?
"Goodbye butts in chairs" (Rae Tanner)
Finally, a little training humor - not board-specific, but definitely reminiscent of why many board training events tend to fall short of their full potential. If you're a regular reader, you know I agree wholeheartedly.