Friday, December 23, 2011

Overheard: Last links for the board year

I have other plans for next Friday's favorite links post, so this is the last of the year based on my weekly reading and exploration. There's an informal "diversity" theme this time around, mostly thanks to the luck of following links. As is often the case, that wandering yielded thought-provoking and useful resources.

Why you need a diverse nonprofit board, not a diverse board member (Nonprofit Hub)

I always approach the topic of diversity cautiously, aware enough that my own demographic status carries limits to completely understanding the issues and experiences. I also think twice when talking about alternatives to setting recruitment goals that do not list characteristics as gender, ethnicity, educational background,  etc. After serving on too many boards filled with white, college-educated professional women with ties to the local university, I understand all too well the importance of serving with people who don't look or think exactly like me. That said, I also know that our usually futile "We need a man..." or - as is common to nonprofits in our community - "We need a member of the Hispanic community..." goals will not automatically lead us to diversity success. Simply deciding to "add an X and stir" isn't the answer, especially when it turns "board member X" into a token and a spokesperson for his/her entire demographic group. That's counterproductive to the board team and disrespectful of the varied contributions that member can make. This post invites us to think about diversity at the organizational level, and takes us to an article that boards everywhere should read and discuss.

Diversity and the false choice (Minnesota Council on Foundations)

This post continues the diversity theme (and offers another link to the article offered above). It also refers readers to additional resources, including Rosetta Thurman's marvelous blog. I've long appreciated Rosetta's approach to discussing diversity, encouraging readers to dig beyond the superficial.

Who's on your board? (Kaye O'Leary)

The connection to diversity is indirect in this one; but it does end up supporting the need, as part of a larger commitment to valuing authenticity and innovation in governance. Actually, the link within this post, to an older post on innovation in the boardroom, adds further fuel to the fire. It's viewed through a corporate governance lens, but the impacts on group capacity to innovate and lead into the future apply equally well to the nonprofit setting.

2 techniques to increase board resiliency (Kevin Monroe)

It's a VUCA (read the post) world, and Kevin is doing his best to help your boards get through it. Not only do our nonprofits need to be resilient in a challenging, turbulent environment, so do the boards that lead them. Kevin's latest post inspires us to find the strength - and the tools - to step up and govern. As with any Kevin  Monroe post, he offers both inspiration and practical ideas for acting on it.

A holiday gift for your board: A refreshed dashboard (Matthew Forti)

This post, offered on the Stanford Social Innovation Review site, offers some terrific tips for creating dashboards that are user-friendly and aimed at enhancing board oversight and decision making. Dashboards aren't my forte, but I see the value and am always interested in resources that help me understand how to make the most out of this tool.

No comments: