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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

LESSON 39 – Invest “10 Minutes for Governance” in Every Board Meeting

Welcome to Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. John Walling is our guest blogger this week for the sixth of seven lessons in "Part 11: Boards That Lead and Boards That Read.”
LESSON 39 OF 40 - Invest “10 Minutes for Governance” in Every Board Meeting
We are all guilty of bringing our delightful dysfunctions into every new board experience.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 39, we’re reminded that the number of years served on boards may not be a good indicator of meaningful board experiences. That’s why board members must be lifelong learners. Consequently, many boards enhance the board member experience by featuring a “10 Minutes for Governance” segment in every meeting.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 39, pages 197-201: 
 Richard Kriegbaum: “Leadership is a complex field and no one resource can meet all the needs of every leader in every situation.”
“Every board member carries unhealthy baggage into your meeting that passed as normalcy in a previous boardroom.”
• “In every board meeting, we want to remind board members that good governance does not happen by osmosis.”

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
Over the last six years, the board of directors at Christian Community Credit Union has invested 10 minutes at each board meeting to enrich our governance competencies. Every board member takes his or her turn at facilitating this governance refresher exercise. And—we set an iPhone alarm so discussion (always lively!) stops at 10 minutes.

Typically, the 10 minutes is allocated as follows:
• 3 minutes of content from the facilitator
• 4 minutes of discussion (in groups of two or three)
• 3 minutes of group reports (1 minute each)

The facilitator prepares a one-page handout (from a standard template) and includes one or two discussion questions. The 10 minutes fly by—but it’s always a stimulating experience!

This year for our “10 Minutes for Governance” exercises, each board member is selecting their favorite chapter from Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. I’m on deck at this month’s board meeting and will focus on “Lesson 27: Report Once and Report With Clarity”—a common struggle for every board I’ve served on! (Read Mike Pate’s commentary on this lesson here.)

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY JOHN WALLING:


John Walling served 45 years at Christian Community Credit Union, including 39 years as President & CEO. He retired in 2017. He has also served on other boards, including Payment Systems for Credit Unions, Inc. (PSCU). In 2012, his credit union peers from the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues honored John with the "Unsung Hero Award" for his "valuable and significant contributions ‘above and beyond’ to the credit union movement within the state of California." Walling is married to Dr. Mary Lou Walling, a retired educator, and they enjoy frequent family gatherings with their two daughters, sons-in-laws, four grandchildren, and a grandson-in-law.

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Pilot test “10 Minutes for Governance” at your next two board meetings. Then evaluate whether you should add this to your standard agenda.
• Assess whether differing assumptions about board governance roles and responsibilities has created misalignment among your board members.




NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On Aug. 22, 2018, watch for the commentary by Dan Bolin on Lesson 40, "A Board Prayer: Dear God...let me tell stories and provide statistics that represent accurately."

Subscribe to this blog by submitting your email (just above the date/day). Visit the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom webpage and order extra 
copies for your board members.




Wednesday, August 8, 2018

LESSON 38 - Great Boards Delegate Their Reading

Welcome to Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Kent Stroman is our guest blogger this week for the fifth of seven lessons in "Part 11: Boards That Lead and Boards That Read.”

LESSON 38 OF 40 - Great Boards Delegate Their Reading
Deputize a “Leaders Are Readers Champion.”

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: Lesson 38 reminds us that great resources for board effectiveness are easily within reach outside the boardroom.

The authors promote the idea of turning the governing body into a “learning board.” And why not? Every worthy endeavor deserves mastery of the basics. Why wouldn’t we hold an equally high standard when it comes to the charitable organizations that have such a great impact around the world? 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 38, pages 193-196: 
 G. K. Chesterton’s choice of Thomas’ Guide to Practical Shipbuilding as his #1 pick for a book to accompany him in a most challenging situation.
“The board chair can inspire individual board members to read and report on a helpful governance book.”
• “Learning boards inspire everyone to read the same book prior to the annual board retreat.”
• “… your journey can be enhanced by the books you read (or listen to). Inspire your board to read!”

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
As I’ve worked with and served on numerous boards, one observation has repeatedly smacked me in the face: Precious few of us have any formal preparation for the task we’ve accepted (serving on a governing board). No wonder there’s so much frustration with the work!

I love the remedy Busby and Pearson offer their readers. The simple practice of targeted reading provides board members with an ever-expanding pool of resources to enrich their service. Further, it deepens the interpersonal relationships of those who serve together to fulfill the mission of the ministry.  

I love this quote from the U.S. Navy Seals, “Under pressure you don't rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. That's why we train so hard.” By being intentional about ongoing board member education, organizations are investing in their own preparation to “rise to the occasion” that will inevitably emerge—at the least expected moment. 

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY KENT STROMAN:


Kent Stroman, CFRE, is a published author, popular presenter, effective consultant and insightful thought leader. His purpose in life is to Equip, Inspire, and Encourage.  Kent is president of Stroman & Associates, a successful consultancy for major fundraising campaigns and board development. More importantly, he is the husband of one, father of three, and grandfather of eight! Kent’s books, Asking about Asking: Mastering the Art of Conversational Fundraising and The Intentional Board: Why Your Board Doesn’t Work . . . and How to Fix It are published by CharityChannel Press and available through booksellers worldwide.

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Appoint a “Leaders Are Readers Champion” and provide a modest budget for the resources needed for the task.
• Choose a book on governance for every member of the board to read in preparation for the annual board retreat.




NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On Aug. 15, 2018, watch for the commentary by John Walling on Lesson 39, "Invest '10 Minutes for Governance' in Every Board Meeting. We are all guilty of bringing our delightful dysfunctions into every new board experience."

Subscribe to this blog by submitting your email (just above the date/day). Visit the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom webpage and order extra 
copies for your board members.




Wednesday, August 1, 2018

LESSON 37 - Don’t Stretch Credulity With BHAGs and Stretch Goals

Welcome to Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. David Schmidt is our guest blogger this week for the fourth of seven lessons in "Part 11: Boards That Lead and Boards That Read.”


LESSON 37 OF 40 - Don’t Stretch Credulity With BHAGs and Stretch Goals
The actual achievement of audacious goals is very uncommon.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: Stretch goals come easily and naturally for energized leaders, but buyer beware. Every stretch goal needs to be tested. Where does it fit into our overall plan? What is driving it? Why this stretch goal now? Because the CEO is new or wants to leave with a legacy milestone? The ministry needs a miracle?  

The board is responsible to be sure goals, big and small, come from sound strategic thinking processes guided by God’s Spirit.  

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 37, pages 189-192: 
 Stretch goals are nearly impossible goals often proposed by the CEO—like a moon shot.”
• “So it’s no wonder that some ministries employ stretch goals as a magical formula to ‘resuscitate or transform an ailing’ strategy.”  

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
I recall a client leader who called an unscheduled breakfast meeting for his direct reports and me as consultant. He shared that in the middle of the night he couldn’t sleep—and in his wakefulness—had determined their organization should set a goal to quadruple their donations revenue. He was a passionate and well-meaning leader who for the most part was pragmatic.  But on this occasion, those of us who loved and respected him suspected his vision in the night was more likely the result of heartburn from the spicy dinner we all shared the evening before.

Stretch goals always need to be vetted and the board is on point to exercise its role appropriately to “trust but verify” what administration brings to it. This protects the staff and the ministry from disorder down the road.

Always—we must test motives and drivers when setting goals. Pride and fear can easily disguise themselves as bold leadership.
Proverbs 24:3-4 helps us here in vetting what seems like a stretch goal: “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts (TLB).”


THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY DAVID SCHMIDT:


David Schmidt is an organizational development consultant who has served nonprofits in the faith-based sector for the past 40 years. He focuses on equipping leaders and organizations to think strategically and lay plans that deliver measurable results. You can learn more about him at his Wise Planning website here.

TO-DO TODAY: 
• If there is a stretch goal floating around in your organization, this is a good time to “trust but verify.”
• How up to date and effective is your strategic plan? If it needs attention, get some outside help.  A strong, working strategic plan makes stretch goals easier to evaluate. 




NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On Aug. 8, 2018, watch for the commentary by Kent Stroman on Lesson 38, "Great Boards Delegate Their Reading. Deputize a 'Leaders Are Readers Champion.'"

Subscribe to this blog by submitting your email (just above the date/day). Visit the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom webpage and order extra 
copies for your board members.




Wednesday, July 25, 2018

LESSON 36 - Decrease Staff Reporting and Increase Heavy Lifting

Welcome to Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Bob King is our guest blogger this week for the third of seven lessons in "Part 11: Boards That Lead and Boards That Read.”


LESSON 36 OF 40 - Decrease Staff Reporting and Increase Heavy Lifting
Consider the good, the bad and the ugly.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: There are two big ideas in this lesson: the first, shorten staff reports; the second, by doing the first part of the lesson, you will allow for more time and heavy lifting (code for “real board work”) by the board during any given meeting.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 36, pages 184-188: 
 Then each team member reads the same report at the board meeting—the worst sin of all.” 
• “Encourage your CEO to coach all senior team members prior to every board meeting…”  

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
John and Dan are too generous by recommending no more than 10 slides. Staff presentations should be no more than three slides, with under 10 words per slide. Remember, the speaker’s responsibility is to condense and synthesize the information for the audience. Not just talk about all they know. Be concise. Holophrastic.* 

*Holophrastic: “expressing a complex of ideas in a single word or in a fixed phrase” 

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY BOB KING:



Prior to starting C.O.O. Services, LLC, in 2008, Bob King served as president of a national, multi-site manufacturer of office and school supplies. C.O.O. Services provides broad-based services to mid-market companies and nonprofit entities, including: interim, project and fractional operational executives; strategic planning process and facilitation; leadership and organizational assessments; retained executive search; succession, transition and exit planning services; and governance and board coaching. Bob is a Certified Management Consultant® (CMC®) and Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) and currently serves on the board of directors of C3 Leaders in Seattle and is vice chair of the board at Warm Beach Christian Camp and Conference Center. He is also a board coach in the Thriving Boards program of Christian Camp and Conference Association. He seeks to live his life by his 7-F mission statement: Faith, Family, Friends, Fun, Fluency, Fitness, and Finances.

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Step 1: Be clear and concise about what is expected of the staff.
Step 2: Think through some heavy lifting (actual board work) that you can do—now that you’ve eliminated all that wasted time!




NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On Aug. 1, 2018, watch for the commentary by David Schmidt on Lesson 37, "Don't Stretch Credulity With BHAGs and Stretch Goals. The actual achievement of audacious goals is very uncommon."

Subscribe to this blog by submitting your email (just above the date/day). Visit the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom webpage and order extra 
copies for your board members.




Wednesday, July 18, 2018

LESSON 35 - Is Your Board Color-Blind?

Welcome to Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Danny de Armas is our guest blogger this week for the second of seven lessons in "Part 11: Boards That Lead and Boards That Read.”


LESSON 35 OF 40 - Is Your Board Color-Blind?
What color is your boardroom flag?

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 35, we read about the different flags that fly during board meetings. The colors represent the atmosphere in the room. A red flag means no progress or advancement; a yellow flag means be careful because there is potential danger ahead; and a green flag means put the pedal to the floor and take advantage of the opportunity to make progress.  

It is important for board members to understand the various flags that fly so they can respond accordingly. Failure to understand that meetings vary in color constantly can be the cause of significant conflict between board members or between the board and management.  

Recognizing the current color and knowing the factors that led to that color can help board members address the issues that most often create hazardous or halting situations. 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 35, pages 180-183: 
 “In every board meeting there are flags that fly.”
• “Boards that know the color of the flag are in a position to more readily address issues that may cause ‘hazardous conditions.’”

• “Yellow flags are on the income statement. Red flags are on the balance sheet.

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
The atmosphere in the room is often the most important factor in having an effective meeting.  When the green flag dominates a meeting, I leave the meeting with the “wind at my back.”  When the red or yellow flag are more dominate, I leave drained and weary.  

There are some obvious reasons we encounter yellow or red flags. Two common circumstances I’ve encountered—that negatively affect atmosphere—are when there’s existing conflict between board members or when any board member arrives at a meeting with an unstated but very purposeful agenda. We should be careful avoid these situations when possible.  

Sensitivity to the atmosphere is one of the most critical competencies for any board member. This competency is like emotional intelligence but with application more towards a room of people not just an individual. Some people feel a room easily and others have little or no sensitivity to the atmosphere. One who is more aware of atmosphere will be able to make a speedier adjustment as the atmosphere changes during a meeting. This can be very useful to move the meeting back to green quickly and appropriately.  

In time, we can all learn to avoid the natural red flag factors. Doing so will keep our meetings productive and pleasant—ensuring continued participation by high capacity leaders. 

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY DANNY de ARMAS:


Danny de Armas is the Senior Associate Pastor of First Baptist Orlando. He grew up in Orlando and was raised in the ministry where he now serves. As Senior Associate Pastor, he is responsible for the implementation of the vision as provided by the Senior Pastor and lay leaders. Danny serves on several local and national boards, including the North American Mission Board of the SBC and Central Florida Commission on Homelessness. In his spare time, Danny enjoys traveling with his wife, Betsy, spending time with his grandchildren, hunting, running marathons, and riding his Harley Davidson.  

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Evaluate your board members for sensitivity and awareness of atmosphere. Do you have any board members that are making matters worse by their insensitivity?
• Establish meeting agendas strategically to ensure green flags are flying most of the time.




NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On July 25, 2018, watch for the commentary by Bob King on Lesson 36, "Decrease Staff Reporting and Increase Heavy Lifting. Consider the good, the bad, and the ugly."

Subscribe to this blog by submitting your email (just above the date/day). Visit the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom webpage and order extra 
copies for your board members.




Wednesday, July 11, 2018

LESSON 34 - Envision Your Best Board Member Orientation Ever

Welcome to Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Mike Batts is our guest blogger this week for the first of seven lessons in "Part 11: Boards That Lead and Boards That Read.”


LESSON 34 OF 40 - Envision Your Best Board Member Orientation Ever
Equip new board members to serve from day one.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 34, we focus on having an excellent new board member orientation process.  With board members coming and going in any ministry, the need to provide proper orientation for new board members is an ongoing, continuous responsibility.  Done well, the orientation process can help board members understand key issues like the history and culture of the organization, their legal duties and responsibilities, and relevant information about the organization’s operations and activities.

A well-executed board member orientation process prepares new board members to assume their new roles with confidence. The lack of a good board member orientation process not only can have the opposite effect, it can drag down the performance of the board as a whole—requiring new members to ask fundamental questions to remedy their ignorance of basic matters.

Lesson 34 provides practical and basic insights for ministry leaders who want to implement a great orientation process for their new board members. It is very much worth the 15 minutes it takes to read it!

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 34, pages 174-179: 
I found this quote from Lesson 34 to be startling in its clarity and bluntness:

“The quality of the orientation process
is a reflection of the quality of the board and the ministry.”

Wow.  

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
It should come as no surprise to any astute reader that having an excellent new board member orientation process is a good idea.  And maybe the reasons seem obvious.  

But I have learned something about a related topic that may not be so obvious. I was struck recently by several sources in the HR arena that have shared perspectives on an analogous issue—new employee onboarding. Numerous HR sources are now saying that one of the most powerful tools for employee engagement and retention is a quality onboarding process.  

As an example, in the article, “Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Good Onboarding,” by Arlene Hirsch and published by the Society for Human Resource Management on August 10, 2017, the author cites this recent research:

“New employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58 percent more likely to be with the organization after three years [and] organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50 percent greater new-hire productivity.” Onboarding is defined essentially as properly preparing a new employee for his/her job with information and training.

If excellent employee onboarding leads to such dramatic differences in employee loyalty and performance, it would seem intuitive that an excellent board member onboarding process could have a similar effect. Great board member orientation is one of those “win-win” scenarios we all look for. So, let’s do it! 

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY MIKE BATTS:


Mike Batts is the president and managing partner of Batts Morrison Wales & Lee, a national CPA firm dedicated exclusively to serving churches, ministries, and other nonprofit organizations and their affiliates across the United States through audit and assurance, tax, and advisory services. Click here to visit the firm’s website.  Batts is also the author of Board Member Orientation: The Concise and Complete Guide to Nonprofit Board Service (read a review here), and his latest book, Nonprofit Financial Oversight: The Concise and Complete Guide for Boards and Finance Committees

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Evaluate the quality of your ministry’s new board member orientation process.
• Do what it takes to make it excellent!




NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On July 18, 2018, watch for the commentary by Danny de Armas on Lesson 35, "Is Your Board Color-Blind? What color is your boardroom flag?"

Subscribe to this blog by submitting your email (just above the date/day). Visit the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom webpage and order extra 
copies for your board members.




Wednesday, July 4, 2018

LESSON 33 - “Good Is the Enemy of Great”

Welcome to Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Thomas Addington is our guest blogger this week for the third of three lessons in "Part 10: Building a 24/7 Board Culture.”


LESSON 33 OF 40 - “Good Is the Enemy of Great”
When great board experiences end, they should be lamented.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 33, the thesis is this: Not all board experiences are created equal—which anyone with multiple board assignments would be able to confirm.

At issue here is not whether a given board tenure is easy or hard. It is possible to wrestle with exceedingly difficult—even long-term—challenges and still report a great board experience. Instead, a review of a past board involvement (whether a term, or a meeting) should allow questions like the following to be answered “Yes.”
   • Did I learn something I did not know before? 
   • Was I able to make a Kingdom difference? 
   • Was my voice heard? 
   • Was everyone’s time honored? 
   • Did we deal with the right issues? 
   • Do I have a high level of respect for my fellow board members? 
   • Were we able to advance the organization’s mission? 
   • Was wisdom present? 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 33, pages 168-171: 
• “We live in a broken world, and the role of a ministry board is to bring wholeness to that brokenness.”
• “It is a waste of resources to gather a high-horsepower board to simply listen to reports.” 

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
The greatness of any board experience turns on two key hinges: the quality of the organization itself—including the significance of its mission; and, the specific composition of board personalities—including its mix of competence and chemistry.

Regarding the organization’s quality: No great board experience will emerge from serving an organization which is mediocre at its core. Its mission must be robust—connected to an ability to execute, in alignment with its size and maturity.

Regarding board composition: Every board member plays a different role, and that diversity should be acknowledged and celebrated. On every board are always particular board members who contribute more than others. For example, an individual may speak less, but what they have to say is consistently acknowledged by all to be essential. Those members play an outsized part in providing a great board experience—for other members as well as for the organization. Prospective board members should be measured against that level of excellence.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY THOMAS ADDINGTON:


Thomas Addington is the CEO of Givington’s and Omega Apparel. Givington’s serves ecommerce stores with fulfillment of their online orders and is located in Fayetteville, Ark. Omega Apparel designs and manufactures garments in Nashville and Smithville, Tenn. Tom’s past board experiences include Bethel University and ECFA. He currently serves on the boards of Christianity Today and Inspired Exhibit. 

TO-DO TODAY: 
• As a board member: What precisely is my role, and to what extent does my contribution match the ministry’s needs?
• As an organization: What modifications, if any, might I make to the overall board experience to improve it? 




NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On July 11, 2018, watch for the commentary by Michael Batts on Lesson 34, "Envision Your Best Board Member Orientation Ever. Equip new board members to serve from day one."

Subscribe to this blog by submitting your email (just above the date/day). Visit the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom webpage and order extra 
copies for your board members.