Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Inquiring nonprofit boards: Improving governance practices to enhance impact


"In what ways has our board improved its governance practices over the last three years?"
"How could our board add greater value?"
-- "The Value of Governance"
Center for Healthcare Governance 

This week's two-part question asks the board to first look inward, to its practices and the education/development efforts that support them, then to look outward, to opportunities to expand its impact.

The pairing of these questions makes sense. As important as performance improvement is to board effectiveness in and of itself, its value ultimately should be tied to expanded governance impact. Efforts to improve the way we work and think and lead collectively may make the job more fun and fulfilling, but they ring hollow unless they also lead to improved processes and outcomes.

Hopefully, deliberate learning and performance improvement is an ongoing part of your board's culture and calendar. If that is the case, answering the first question will be simple and - I hope - satisfying as you take stock of your work in this area. If that is not the case, now is the time to acknowledge that you have room for growth and address it.

In what areas is your board less than effective in its operations?
What are your key structural, cultural and interpersonal challenges?

What can you do, starting today, to change that?

Equally important - whether celebrating performance improvement successes or planning for performance improvement changes - is connecting that transformation to question two. How can/will your improved board practices lead to enhanced governance effectiveness and impact?

NOTE: This post is part of a series highlighting questions designed to promote inquiry in the boardroom. For others in the series, and a more general pool of resources on the topic visit my "Inquiring Nonprofit Boards" collection on Pinterest.

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