Friday, January 15, 2016

Governance toolbox: Tips for launching a healthier boardroom in 2016

It seems like forever since the last governance toolbox post - probably because it was (almost) forever (Dec. 18). I've been saving like a fiend since the last tools post, and the resulting list of shareable resources is pretty overwhelming.

A strong theme - as always - in what I've collected is building healthy group relationships. That feels like an excellent way to launch this feature, and help you shape what lies ahead in your individual boardrooms, this year. Here are a few of my favorites gathered.

7 ways to keep your board focused -- "My board doesn’t focus on important things; we spend half our meetings rehashing old votes or talking about the cost of office supplies, and then the last 10 minutes on something that affects the entire organization." Ever find your board caught in this mode? (Raises hand high...) Most of Susan's "ways" are simple, common sense recommendations. But sometimes, we need reminders of the things we "know" to bring us back on track for tending to our unique governance responsibilities. (Reminder: if you're spending a lot of time on paper clips or copy machines, you aren't governing.)

Build Trust: 12 Board of Director Tips for 2016 -- This is another list that may feel totally obvious to most of us, at least on the surface. Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we all probably can find one or more of the tips that are at least occasional challenges in our boardrooms. What are those challenges? How can we address them with our boards, early, so that we can reduce the risk of recurrence in 2016? What are those that are never issues for our boards? How can we use those as points of strength to build even greater trust and commitment within the group?

Creating a team of leaders -- Apparently, LinkedIn in our friend today. The general theme of this one fits the "effective groups" theme well. But more than that, I chose it for its recognition of the value of bringing different "talents" into the room with those groups. The six specific examples actually are germane to nonprofit governance (yes, even the "research guru"). But more important, they serve as reminders that we really need access to different ways of thinking and working and viewing life, along with the skills, demographics and other more traditional criteria used in recruiting board new members. Doing so improves our potential to think broadly and deeply about the critical issues that arise and to respond with the most thoughtful, creative and wise ways to those challenges.

Tips and Tools for Board and Committee Engagement -- Keeping to the "tools" promise of this feature... Tools! Tips galore! I appreciated the practical nature of Justin's recommendations. Some will be totally obvious to most of us. If they simply serve as reminders, fine. But I also suspect that everyone will find one that sparks an idea, or hits a nerve, and that is worth sharing in the spirit of improving our board practice.

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