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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

LESSON 6: Eliminate Hallway Whining

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. Rev. Patrick Clements is our guest blogger this week for the third of four lessons in "Part 2: Boardroom Tools, Templates, and Typos."

LESSON 6 OF 40 - Eliminate Hallway Whining
The 5/15 report to the board takes just five minutes to read and 15 minutes to write.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK:
 In Lesson 6, we look at the needs for every effective CEO to “Eliminate Hallway Whining.” It is interesting that every survey I’ve seen, that measures a board member’s satisfaction with board service, has reported lower scores for the CEO’s communication—than for other factors. So the CEO’s knee jerk reaction is to simply send more reports. This too is a potential problem. Great board members are generally very busy men and women. What a dilemma for the executive! How do I hit the sweet spot? What is the holy grail of effective communication?

CEOs worth their salt want to have open, transparent and effective communication with their boards. My answer is to gain agreement that the board will accept a monthly report that can easily be read in five minutes (and takes the CEO just 15 minutes to write). I have found the best tool is what has come to be called the 5/15 Report. The rule of thumb for the report—less is more. You want to give full information in a quick, easy-to-read format. 

If I am really honest as a CEO, the motivations for this are fully selfish. First, I know in my core that the board will respond best if they have confidence that they are informed. Providing no surprises is a great way to work with a board. Secondly, as a busy executive I don’t have time to labor over a monthly report. I need a template that gives the information without burdening either the board or me. Voila! Problem solved with a well-structured 5/15 Report.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 6, pages 26-32: 
 The board of directors can tend to lose confidence, or whine as the book posits, if they feel out of the loop.
• As in life, communication is a vital key in the care and feeding of board relationships.
• The 5/15 Report is a tool that has stood the test of time. No matter what generation of leaders you are working with, you will find that effective, time sensitive, and transparent communication works.
• It is very important to consider the key elements that you include in your version of the 5/15 Report. Not all boards or nonprofits are the same. Be sure that you keep the goal in mind—less is more. 

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
I have had the wonderful privilege of serving on a number of nonprofit boards, and chairing several of them. Those opportunities to serve proved to be great educational moments for me. Without fail I found that the successful and respected CEOs were outstanding communicators. Not all the CEOs were dynamic, charismatic men or women, but all the great ones were transparent and effective communicators. 

Truth be known—if we approach the opportunities of service as lifelong learners—we will find insights that will serve us well over time. I believe that the 5/15 Report concept is a good answer. It was developed out of a random conversation with mentor and friend Ted Engstrom, then president of World Vision. We didn’t have a name for the report when we talked. Soon after that conversation, the 5/15 Report became a regular part of my reporting regimen with the board I served as CEO. It proved to be a tremendous tool which has now been used successfully by many.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY REV. PATRICK CLEMENTS:





Rev. Patrick Clements is the recently retired president of Church Extension Plan where he served for 34 years. CEP, a ministry affiliated with the Assemblies of God, makes loans to churches and ministries to build buildings. It is also a place where individuals and organizations invest in a note program which provides the resources for the loans. CEP’s total asset base is over $500 million. Clements has authored two books: Proven Concepts of Church Building and Finance and Financial Freedom: More Than Being Debt Free—Tools for Managing Your Personal Finances. He has served on eight nonprofit boards and has chaired three of them. Pat, and his wife Connie, have four sons and 12 grandchildren.

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Spend some time thinking about what should be included in your version of the 5/15 Report.
• Review your draft 5/15 Report, and the concept, with your board chairperson and gain agreement with the new communication tool.  
  



NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On Jan. 3, 2018, watch for Jim Galvin's commentary on Lesson 7, "Typos Matter! Pious shoddy is still shoddy."

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, December 20, 2017

LESSON 5 - Before the 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. Ed McDowell is our guest blogger this week for the second of four lessons in "Part 2: Boardroom Tools, Templates, and Typos."


LESSON 5 OF 40 - Before the Board Meeting
Collaborate, then wisely build the board meeting agenda.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK:
 In Lesson 5, the underlying truth is that intentional and timely planning and collaboration between the board chair and CEO positions the board for maximum effectiveness. 

The better the collaboration and planning, the healthier the governance process and outcomes will be. As chair and CEO, think it through ahead of time. Give staff, task forces, and committees plenty of time to be prepared by making an agenda available with enough lead time.  

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 5, pages 21-25: 
 “Allow for reconnection” has great value.  Remember the board is a spiritual community gathered to govern a piece of God’s Kingdom. Connection with each other is a high priority.  
“Provide time for heavy lifting” is an important concept in agenda planning. Make sure the most important discussion and issues on the agenda get the best time and energy of the board meeting. 
“…bathe the agenda in prayer to allow the Holy Spirit to guide the board members during the meeting.” The agenda is the board chair’s and CEO’s discerning process for aligning with God, His purposes, His will.  Spend time in prayer that prepares the entire board for alignment with God and His intentions for the ministry.  

While a board agenda may seem mundane, it is the planning platform for Kingdom-based governance results. 

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
I currently serve in both the role of CEO and board chair for different ministries. Here’s what I have found—if the relationship between the two cultivates trust, it creates a conduit for effective planning and results.  

In preparing a good agenda, it is good for the CEO to bring to the board chair any updates on action items from previous meetings. Generative thinking together can also aid in the planning of a good agenda.  

Underlying this foundational collaboration is a relationship of mutual trust and spiritual integrity. It is the foundation on which good planning is built.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY ED McDOWELL:





Ed McDowell is the CEO of Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center in Stanwood, Wash.  He also leads Thriving Boards, a board coaching initiative of the Christian Camp and Conference Association. Ed also does consulting with a special focus on board development and problem-solving with fresh perspectives. He and his wife, Bev, live in Stanwood, Wash., where they enjoy their family. 

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Do a one-question survey of the board via email:  On a scale of 1-5 (5 is very effective), “How effectively did we use your time in the recent board meeting?”
• Set up a planning session between the board chair and CEO regarding the agenda for the next board meeting.  
  



NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On Dec. 27, 2017, watch for Pat Clement's commentary on Lesson 6, "Eliminate Hallway Whining. The 5/15 report to the board takes just five minutes to read and 15 minutes to write."

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, December 13, 2017

LESSON 4 - Do Unwritten Board Policies Really Exist?

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 Andringa is our guest blogger this week for the first of four lessons in "Part 2: Boardroom Tools, Templates, and Typos."

LESSON 4 OF 40 - Do Unwritten Board Policies Really Exist?
Can't find that 10-year-old policy? You need a BPM.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK:
 In Lesson 4, John and Dan point us to the best “governance operating system” for ministry boards, large or small—a Board Policies Manual (BPM). 

A BPM contains (a) ALL the on-going policies a board needs to address, (b) in ONE organized document (maybe 20 pages with some attachments), (c) that is reviewed at every board meeting based on new data and new wisdom from the Lord.  Who on a board can remember all the “policies” contained in years of minutes?!  

A BPM solves many common issues that make boards dysfunctional.  Once you have one, and keep it current, you will never convene board meetings without it.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 4, pages 14-20: 
This chapter affirmed my 23-year love affair with a BPM and I am grateful for its reference to one of my own books. Lesson 4 prompted so many good insights as to the WHY and the HOW of starting and maintaining a BPM.  These are key:  

• Since no one rereads minutes after a few years, policies still relevant in a court of law get lost in the files.  Besides, old ad hoc motions in the minutes often conflict with one another and don’t make sense for guiding future decisions.
The oral tradition doesn’t and should not work for boards that take governance seriously.   
• An up-to-date, organized BPM serves many purposes. It allows a new board member or new CEO to get up to speed fast; saves time by not rehashing issues already addressed in the BPM; helps the board stay focused on what it must do (governance) rather than what it may be tempted to do (management).
• A small board committee might be the best way to draft a first BPM for board review (but the CEO might be an alternative drafter).  

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
Really, any organization that wants governance to be more than mediocre needs a BPM.  The original concept came in a 1994 book by John Carver. He was gracious enough to allow my co-author, Fred Laughlin, and me to write Good Governance for Nonprofits: Developing Principles and Policies for an Effective Board.

For every hour spent on creating and maintaining a Board Policies Manual, at least three hours of board and committee meetings will be saved before too long. It’s a “living document,” always reflecting the latest wisdom of the board.

No BPM—even when amended several times a year—reflects perfection. But it does help in recruiting new board members and CEOs. It builds trust between the board and CEO because they are working off the same song sheet. It saves time because well-crafted policies allow decisions to be made in accordance with the BPM between board meetings. Showing a BPM to major donors or foundations gives them confidence your ministry is well led.  

Like the Rich Stearns quote on page 14 of Lessons, you can enjoy a long governance honeymoon as a CEO or board member by creating your own BPM. Why wait? Hundreds (perhaps thousands now) of ministries are moving from good to great with their customized BPM. A good BPM contains dozens of best practices. For a free downloadable primer on the What, Why and How of a BPM, visit The Andringa Group website and download “Introduction to Board Policies Manual” and get started.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY BOB ANDRINGA:

Dr. Bob Andringa is active in “re-firement” after a diverse career that included: university administrator, military officer, congressional committee staff director, gubernatorial campaign manager, director of policy research for that successful governor in Minnesota, CEO of the Education Commission of the States and the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, and a governance consultant to more than 400 faith-based nonprofit CEOs and their boards. Bob and his wife, Sue, live in Scottsdale, Ariz., and have two grown sons. 

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Read Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, then may I (humbly) suggest you read my book, Good Governance for Nonprofits.  
Click here to download an updated BPM template you can customize for your board.
  



NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On Dec. 20, 2017, watch for Ed McDowell's color commentary on Lesson 5, "Before the Board Meeting - Collaborate, then wisely build the board meeting agenda."

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, November 29, 2017

LESSON 2 – Ask the Gold Standard Question

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. Tim McDermott is our guest blogger this week.




LESSON 2 OF 40 - Ask the Gold Standard Question 

A “Pruning Moment” Can Improve Your Board Meetings

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 2, we are challenged to see if our board is engaged at board meetings. If they own the ministry’s vision, and are engaged, they will want to make the board meeting time more productive. This process is called pruning.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 2, pages 6-9: 
• The authors’ favorite engagement question: What causes you to reflect, “That was a great board meeting today!”?
• “Imagine if your board had frequent moments characterized by deep joy, strategic issues, spiritual insight and waiting for God to speak?”
• Stop doing the things that don’t engage your board.  Henry Cloud says “If we own it, we have to prune.  If we don’t, we have decided to own the other vision, the one we called average.” 

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
Several years ago, we noticed we were having a difficult time getting board members to attend committee meetings. Don’t get me wrong. We had a great board—they just weren’t coming and had great “reasons” why they couldn’t. Through some anonymous surveys of the board, we learned that they felt they weren’t contributing at the meetings. They were coming just to hear reports and vote yes (or unlikely no).  

The only meeting that was well attended was the Strategy Committee, because that is where they could contribute and they felt valued.  So we changed our committee and board agenda to be more issue-based. Rather than reading a report, we presented issues we were facing, ups and downs, and challenges.  The end result—the board is more engaged and attendance is up! 

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY TIM McDERMOTT:

Tim McDermott is the President/General Manager of KSBJ in Houston, Texas and NGEN Radio. The radio stations reach over one million people a week in Houston making it the largest non-commercial radio station in the world.  The station has been honored with many Station of the Year Awards from NRB and CMB and has been named a Best Christian Workplace. Besides reaching the local community of Houston through music, a large prayer ministry and events, KSBJ also actively mentors Christian music radio stations around the world so they can actively reach their communities for Christ.  Tim has served on many national broadcasting boards and is also a CPA and has served as a Field Reviewer for ECFA for several years.  

TO-DO TODAY: 
• In addition to the board, ask my senior leaders how we can prune our staff meetings.
• Follow up with board members individually to make sure their voices are being heard.
• Ask other CEOs if they have learned successful ways to better engage their boards.

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, November 22, 2017

LESSON 1 - Wanted: Lifelong Learners

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. Ralph Enlow is our guest blogger this week.




LESSON 1 OF 40 - Wanted: Lifelong Learners 
Would you trust a surgeon who stopped learning?



THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 1, we learn that board improvement flows from intentionality and falters through passivity. Boards—and board members—that take a passive disposition toward their performance are in danger of defaulting on their biblical stewardship calling. 

The good news is that plenty of sources and stimuli for improvement are available to boards that take stewardship seriously. Among those referenced in this lesson are excellent books like Ram Charan’s Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask, and assessment tools like BoardSource’s 85 questions for board members (in The Nonprofit Board Answer Book) and ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™. 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 1, pages 2-5: 
• Gut check question: “Is your board adding or subtracting value? How do you know?” (p. 3)
• “The role of the board has unmistakably transitioned from passive governance to active leadership with a delicate balance of avoiding micromanaging.” [Charan, Owning Up]

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
I have consistently taught and written that lifelong learning is essential to long term leadership effectiveness. Bobby Clinton, Leadership Emergence Theory expert, has documented that a lifelong learning posture is consistently apparent of leaders who finish well. Even so, I find that the fatal combination of passivity and agenda clutter conspires to crowd out efforts to walk the talk of continuous board development. 

That’s where this book makes a great contribution. The simple list of Board Action Steps at the end of every chapter and the Study Guide’s “five ways to leverage the insights of this book” (p. 207) offer handles of hope for those of us who often know better than we do. My resolve to make board development integral to my board’s culture has been richly renewed and resourced. 

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY RALPH ENLOW:

Ralph Enlow serves as president of the Association for Biblical Higher Education. ABHE colleges engage students in postsecondary education that emphasizes deep Bible engagement and spiritual development in community that helps them answer God's call to live life on mission with Him whether in the marketplace or the ministry. Ralph has authored The Leader’s Palette: Seven Primary Colors and Jesus on Greatness: There’s More to It Than You Think (coming in 2018), and blogs regularly about biblical higher education, biblical leadership, and cultural issues at 4ThoughtLeaders.

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Assign a member of the board development committee to facilitate review and discussion of a chapter from this book at every board meeting. 
• Challenge the board to select and implement one simple action step recommended in the chapter.

NEXT WEDNESDAY:
On Nov. 29, 2017, watch for Tim McDermott’s color commentary on Lesson 2, “Ask the Gold Standard Question: A ‘pruning moment’ can improve your board meetings.”

Visit the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom webpage and order extra copies for your board members.



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

40 BLOGS. 40 WEDNESDAYS.


Welcome to...
LESSONS FROM THE NONPROFIT BOARDROOM BLOG!


JOIN US! You're invited to join us here for the next 40 Wednesdays in 2017-2018, when 40 guest bloggers will add their insights to the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson.

 


Watch for a new post every Wednesday. Don’t miss the first two blogs:

   Nov. 22, 2017 – Lesson 1
   Wanted: Lifelong Learners

   Would you trust a surgeon who stopped learning?

   Guest Blogger: Ralph Enlow, President, Association for Biblical Higher Education
   Nov. 29, 2017 – Lesson 2
   Ask the Gold Standard Question
   A “pruning moment” can improve your board meetings.
   Guest Blogger: Tim McDermott, President and General Manager, KSBJ

LESSONS FROM THE NONPROFIT BOARDROOM is the perfect book to give to your board members and will inspire them in God-honoring governance. With 40 short chapters in 11 memorable categories, you’ll appreciate lessons on: The Powerful Impact of Highly Engaged Boards, Boardroom Tools, Templates, and Typos, Nominees for the Boardroom Hall of Fame, Epiphanies in the Boardroom, Boardroom Time-Wasters, Trouble-Makers, and Truth-Tellers, Boardroom Best and Worst Practices, Holy Ground and Other Locations, Building a 24/7 Board Culture, and Boards That Lead and Boards That Read.

LISTEN AND LEARN. If you’re more of a listener than a reader, check out the 35-minute Flourishing Culture Podcast released on Oct. 9, 2017. Co-authors Dan Busby and John Pearson were interviewed by Al Lopus, president and co-founder of the Best Christian Workplaces Institute. (Listen here.) Dan and John shared their favorite insights from the book, including the imperative importance of prayer and discernment—and what to do when a board member doesn’t live your values.

Visit the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom webpage and order extra copies for your board members.