"Does the way we work as a board facilitate success and impact? In what ways? If not, what is keeping us from effective governance? How can we change that?"
Are we working in ways that actually facilitate successful governance? Are we performing in ways that have meaning and impact?
If you serve on a board where the answers are "yes" and "yes," congratulations. You've hit a structural and a cultural sweet spot that facilitates optimal governance performance.
If your response to either or both of those is "no," you're not alone. Your board also is not living and governing to its full potential. Reasons may vary widely. But asking the questions - and sincerely probing for answers - is one path to uncovering, analyzing, and adjusting any practices that inhibit your board's capacity to reach its full potential.
Perfect boards may actually exist, somewhere. But I've not yet encountered one, even while working with some strong and largely effective governing bodies. Part of the appeal of this question set is the potential to acknowledge not only the areas for improvement but those aspects of our work that serve us well. We hope that every board can recognize and build from at least one practice that facilitates successful governance practice. We hope that every board has more than just one practice from which to build - that each has a structure and a culture that promotes focus on governance priorities and leadership in fulfilling them. We may not have a clear picture of what those components might be, but these questions offer a foundation for exploring and moving forward, wherever "forward" takes us.
NOTE: This post launches a semi-monthly series based on last month's Question Week exercise. I plan to alternate "inquiring nonprofit boards" question posts with "one board thing" posts every Wednesday for as long as I have ideas to share - at least into the summer.