Friday, July 17, 2015

Governance toolbox: Policy, process, power

This week's toolbox features my impromptu three Ps - policy, process, and power. Several share-worthy links appeared this week, covering topics related to board roles, policies and leadership.

Here are a few of the more noteworthy resources that I saved for you:

Changing the rules, changing the board: Bar association governance for changing times -- The American Bar Association gives us much to ponder - and aspire to - in this Bar Leader article. I've admired the ABA's approach to governance since I had a chance to access their resources during a Bar Leadership Institute I attended as a workshop presenter. This feature describes a balanced, leadership-focused governance environment that any board should find inspiring. I especially appreciated the call for "real conversation." The book referenced in that section is next up on my reading list. 

Five must-haves for strategic planning to matter -- "Strategic planning" should be one of the most important areas of focus for a board. It can turn into a giant, time-sucking rabbit hole that drags down boards and staff alike - if the board doesn't accept a disengaged rubber-stamping role.  Too many of those plans fail to become the change agent documents that should be their purpose. My friend, Gayle Gifford, offers a fantastic guide for ensuring that the planning process and its results live up to their greatest potential. Her "must haves:" a "must-read."

7 reality checkpoints for your nonprofit board -- Many, maybe most, of the seven scenarios may ring familiar to you. I have participated in each one of those discussions (some many times) in my 30-plus years of board service. I see this post as an excellent conversation starter for you and your board. Share the entire piece, discuss it generally, then use it as a jumping-off point for digging into one of the trickier issues that you face as a governing body.

Directors and officers liability insurance: Why it’s worth the cost -- The topic isn't sexy, but it's one that's kept many a board member up at night (or should, for the oblivious). This new Nonprofit Quarterly post offers an excellent overview of the risks that boards may encounter and the roles that D&O insurance has in covering their potential liability. Your state may have specific parameters defining how much liability you take on in board service. Check with your nonprofit association or  your secretary of state's office for more local details. But this NPQ article is a good, plain English starting point.

Why board engagement in advocacy is essential -- I'll close with another NPQ article, on a topic that will resonate with many boards (and possibly scare a few). If you follow any nonprofit media, you probably saw news this week that BoardSource has updated its "Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards." The big update: adding advocacy as one of those essential roles.  This post, by BoardSource CEO Anne Wallestad, makes their case for the change.  What it doesn't do is articulate the revised Big 10. So far, I can only find reference to the new list in the new addition of a book that we are all welcome to buy. I will keep looking for a free version of that updated list and will share if if/when I find it. In the meantime, this post will give you a sense of the importance that BoardSource places on advocacy. Again, this can be a useful spark for a conversation your board needs to have.


GayleGifford said...

Why thank you, Debra! What a lovely surprise to turn to your column for your sage analysis and find myself in the list!!
Looking forward to reading through all the rest.

Debra Beck, EdD said...

Happy to share a thought-provoking resource on a topic that all boards need to treat as a top priority, Gayle! Thanks, as always, for your shared wisdom and expertise.