Friday, May 4, 2012

Overheard: May 4 edition

It seems that I'm in perpetual catch-up mode with my favorite governance links posts. Lack of  material worthy of sharing certainly isn't the challenge of late. I'll do my best to present the cream of the online crop, from those gathered since my last "overheard" post.

That I would choose this video to lead off this week's offerings might surprise you, but it might make a bit of sense to regular readers who recognize my love of open governance spaces. If we avoid over-programming every board meeting, if we accept John Seely Brown's challenge to "attract people in unexpected ways to help ask, frame and answer...questions," we create the kinds of serendipitous environments where boards have the capacity to respond creatively and appropriately to the ever-changing needs of our communities.

Fixing your nonprofit board: When incremental steps aren't enough (Alice Korngold)

Sometimes, it just needs to be said - and Alice does so in a straightforward and convicting way here. Many board issues simply can't be tweaked out of existence; the problems lie far deeper than a superficial fix. Alice describes the process she uses to guide boards through what ultimately becomes a transformative process. Governance requires bravery and leadership, especially now. This post not only reminds us of that, it offers focal points for thinking more deeply about the ways in which we should be working to meet the challenges we face as nonprofit leaders.

Great organizational answers come from community questions (Nancy Iannone)

I'm doubly pleased to share this important post - first, because it brings us straight to the essence of nonprofit work, the community; and second, because it's written by the wise and wonderful Nancy Iannone. I don't know about you, but I've wallowed in the "if we just had..." quagmire that she describes in the opening sentence (even though I know better). Nancy's post does a beautiful job of encouraging us to bring our focus to where it should be - our ultimate community impact and the engagement needed to ensure effectiveness. Marvelous, Nancy - and congratulations on your first post on the Creating the Future blog!

A unique way to achieve entire board giving (Susan Hammond)

You may recall that I wrote about the sticky question of a board giving policy earlier this spring. I offer this post, not as the perfect, easy way to get out of the kind of board financial commitment that many funders seek, but as a reminder that accomplishing full participation need not be the harrowing and traumatic experience that too many of us anticipate.

What to do with board members who don't do anything (Jan Masaoka)

(I'm remembering that I haven't yet fulfilled a promise to several American Bar Association leaders to add a "dealing with difficult members" section to my online board presidents resource...) We've all served with board members who failed to live up to their potential - or their bottom line responsibilities. We've probably picked up some of the slack created in their absence. This great list by Jan Masaoka reminds us that there can be a range of obstacles for lack of participation, more than a few originating at the board level, and that they needn't necessarily lead to termination. Ask. Listen. Act when appropriate. Fix what is broken, for them and others now and in the future. But also hold them accountable.

Active and passive learning in organizations (Stephen Gill)

I'll end on a positive and learning-themed note. In this post, Stephen reinforces the idea that learning takes many forms, most of them informal and embedded in the routine work that we do. I am especially drawn to his 10 additional "ways of learning." Number 4 is particularly germane to nonprofit boards and their reason for being (Now you must click through...!). What "ways" on either the original list or Gill's additions already are part of your board's processes? What could be added to enhance your learning and build your capacity?


Susan C hammond said...

Thanks for including a link back to my post on board giving.
Susan Hammond

Debra Beck, EdD said...

Thanks for helping to remind us that there are manageable ways to facilitate board giving. Too many governing bodies that I encounter struggle with (resist, frankly) the notion, usually in the name of concern for (potential) members who may be unable to write big checks.

As I pointed out in the post linked here, how much has never been the issue for the foundations and donors doing the asking. Full board member participation is the ultimate outcome they want to see.