Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Board competency 5: Great questions that lead to thoughtful, creative decisions

This is the fifth in a 10-part weekly series expanding upon the core nonprofit board competencies that I laid out in a recent post.

Core board competency 5: The capacity and willingness to seek out information, ask provocative questions, and use the result of that learning to drive thoughtful decision making (intellectual curiosity).

My passion for a great question is well documented here, and its inclusion on the list of core board competencies should be obvious.

Great questions lay the foundation for provocative, wide-ranging and creative discussions that feed generative governance. Board members who take doing their homework seriously, and who ask  questions that inspire broad and critical thinking, are essential to the process. This core competency ensures that governance is more than monitoring of management functions and passive listening to reports of events past.

  • Great questions ask, "What do we need to know to make the best choice possible? From whom/where?"
  • Great questions uncover the hidden opportunities and obstacles - the paths and limitations - before decisions are made.
  • Great questions stretch thinking, leading to creative connections between seemingly disparate options.
  • Great questions engage board members' brains and hearts. They inspire them to lead.
  • Great questions focus boards' attention on what's possible.
  • Great questions lead to the kind of thoughtful, future-oriented thinking that makes "what's possible" real.
  • Great questions transform and shape the future.

Click here to access my always expanding list of "boards+questions" bookmarks.

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