Friday, April 12, 2013

Overheard: 'Stating the obvious' edition

This week's favorites list opens with a post that is a "must read" for all nonprofit boards. That a friend (and a name familiar to regular readers) wrote it only adds to my enjoyment in sharing it.

Want better outcomes? Ask bigger, better, bolder questions (Kevin Monroe)

"Yes, yes, 1000 times yes!" That was my comment as I shared this in another setting earlier this week. Kevin gets at the essence of why so many organizations and their boards fall short of expectations here: They're asking the wrong darn questions - about mundane, unimportant topics that guarantee we'll wallow forever in the here and now instead of what is possible and what will move us closer to the future we're supposedly advancing. We need to make asking "bigger, better, bolder questions" the norm by which we govern.

5 types of directors who don't deliver (Jack and Suzy Welch)

The Welches undoubtedly had corporate boards in mind when they wrote this post, but the five characters they described here will resonate for any of us who spend time in their nonprofit equivalents. I've served with every dysfunctional character on his list (and, yes, been one of them a time or two), and I can attest to the destruction they can bring. I thought about incorporating this post into the "group process lit review" series, until I realized my contribution would be three words long: "what they said." Naming and meeting these destructive characters head on should be something all boards are brave enough to address. Better yet, creating a culture where these kinds of behaviors are unthinkable might avoid the problem altogether.

7 strategies for more productive nonprofit board meetings (Joe Garecht)

Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if a list this basic would be so "101" that it would be unthinkable and unnecessary to spell out? Unfortunately, we live and govern in a world where some of the seven - and even the whole list - will be earth-shaking news to some boards. I added this to my "board essentials" bookmark list, because it does a credible job of laying out the parameters for a productive meeting. Sadly, it will be a worthy resource for too many boards who are stuck and ineffective.

9 signs you're a leader (Joseph Lalonde)

Adding this one to the week's list prompted a change in title for the post. It may be stating the obvious to point out that nonprofit board members are leaders (and that governance is leadership), but I'll do so anyway. I read and bookmarked this with board chairpersons in mind; but as I read it again today, I see that it also describes well the work and the environment of effective governance.  I especially am drawn to numbers three, five, six and seven (now you must click). We don't talk about the first three, and it's easy to act as if we have collective amnesia about the last. (Hmmm. I'm seeing a future post in number three...)

When a board falls short of expectations (Tom Okarma)

Maybe not "obvious," but worthy of sharing - and personally timely.  Let's face it: the potential for boards to at least occasionally stumble is high. When that happens, these recommendations may provide some guidance for moving out of the muck in a productive and non-threatening way. 

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