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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

LESSON 15 - Cut Your Losses

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. George Duff is our guest blogger this week for the first of four lessons in "Part 5: Boardroom Bloopers.”

LESSON 15 OF 40 - Cut Your Losses
Is it a $30,000 baseball or not?

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK:
 In Lesson 15, we are reminded that—sometimes—we must “cut our losses” in the boardroom to get the meeting (and the organization) back on track.

You’ll appreciate this true story of the vintage baseball collector who had to cut his losses after purchasing a $30,000 baseball signed by Babe Ruth. One problem—“the signature was a fake.”

We’ve all observed CEOs and boards that skate too close to the edge (relationally and financially)—and yet when the facts are in, they still fail to cut their losses. It takes courage to address big mistakes as you’ll read in my commentary here. 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 15, pages 74-78: 
John Maxwell: “The more you prepare for the meeting before the meeting, the less time you will have to spend doing damage control after the meeting. A leader never has to recover from a good start.”
“There are times in the boardroom when we must cut our losses.”
• “The larger and more complex the issue, the greater likelihood that discussion of the topic should occur across more than one board meeting.”

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
Before moving to Seattle from Detroit to become the president of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce in 1968, I asked for a compilation of the “undones.”

At the top of the list was the issue (and the cost) of our maintaining a full-time representative and office in Washington D.C. It had been established 50 years earlier, in 1918, when Seattle and D.C. were a world apart.

Long before 1968, that world had shrunk. Our Members of Congress traveled back to Washington State frequently and their staffs had grown considerably. Assisting constituents to deal with the maze of regulatory agencies was part of their job—and no longer the Chamber’s job.

Plus, the D.C. office consumed twenty percent of the Chamber’s budget. It was not difficult for our board to figure out what to do—just difficult to do.

So we cut our losses and closed the D.C. office. Yes, there was pushback from businesses that the Chamber had helped over the years, but it eventually subsided.
It is never wrong to do the right thing, hopefully in the right way.

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY GEORGE DUFF:



George Duff served 27 years as the president of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. In retirement, he has served on several for-profit and nonprofit boards, including CRISTA. As the $1/year senior advisor for Christian Management Association (now CLA), George leveraged his deep appreciation for Peter Drucker’s wisdom to thousands of ministry leaders. (He re-reads The Effective Executive, by Drucker, once a year.) Jim Gwinn, retired CEO of CRISTA, profiled George’s wisdom in Chapter 24 of A Life Well Lived. Click here to read the chapter online. George, and his wife, Marilyn, continue to serve ministries in numerous ways from their home in the Seattle area.

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Identify the “undones” that still linger in your organization, perhaps due to the lack of courage to cut your losses.
• If your CEO is slow to cut your losses, inspire your board chair to address financial (and relational) issues that require action by the board. It is never wrong to do the right thing. 
  



NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On March 7, 2018, watch for Terry Stokesbary's commentary on Lesson 16, "Date Board Prospects Before You Propose Marriage. He served the shortest board term in the history of the world!"

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, February 21, 2018

LESSON 14 - If You Need a Board Member, Recruit a Board Member

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. Bruce Johnson is our guest blogger this week for the fourth of four lessons in "Part 4: Epiphanies in the Boardroom."

LESSON 14 OF 40 - If You Need a Board Member, Recruit a Board Member
If you need a volunteer, recruit a volunteer.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK:
 Here’s the big take-away principle from Chapter 14—the best volunteers don’t necessarily make the best board candidates. Great volunteers are often get-it-done people. They like rolling up their sleeves. Seeing things accomplished. They have skills for a particular project or initiative.  

Being an effective board member calls for the ability to work in committees, think strategically, overcome the temptation to manage the work—and instead, think at a higher level of oversight, policy, and governance.  

Bringing on board members with little governance experience (this should be the exception, rather than the rule) requires preparation and mentoring, which takes a commitment of time by them, the CEO, the board chair, and a culture of learning among the board. 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 14, pages 68-72: "Whoa, Nelly!"
As noted on page 69, “We expect restaurants to have competent chefs. We trust airline pilots to be trained up to the minute and highly competent. We expect theologians to be lifelong learners…Yet board members, not so much.”

Years ago I was mentoring a young ministry leader. He was so excited to tell me, “I just met a wealthy businessman who is a Christian. I’m going to invite him to join our board next week.”  

“Whoa, Nelly!” I thought (a phrase made famous by the recently deceased sports broadcaster, Keith Jackson). Success in business does not instantly translate to success as a board member.  Discerning, cultivating, and vetting who would be a good board member is one of the most important responsibilities of the CEO and board members.  

And high on the qualification list is knowledge of governance and the role of the board and board members for your organization.

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
Identifying competent board members takes time. Do they really understand and are they passionate about the mission of your organization? Do they have the time? Will they “play well” in the board setting or will they drive their agenda? Do they bring knowledge and experience that will add to the board, not detract?  Do they understand how to lead by policy, rather than by operational directive?

And for your current board members, I affirm the authors’ suggestion on page 72, “Inspire a board member to help increase the board’s competencies in policy development by reading a book [or chapter], booklet, or article on Policy Governance®.”  

Ask a board member to take 10 minutes at an upcoming board meeting to review and discuss one idea about board governance. Create a culture of learning with your board. It’s a great way to give back to them. 

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY BRUCE JOHNSON:













Bruce Johnson is president of SIM USA, a global mission that brings good news to people living and dying without the gospel. SIM has multi-skilled workers of more than 65 nationalities serving together on six continents. It ministers among diverse people groups through Christian witness, community development, medicine, education, business, and more. Bruce has over four decades of leadership experience in Christian ministry, including three stints as an interim CEO.  For nearly a decade he had a full-time consulting practice to ministry and church leaders, helping them clarify and implement strategy, board governance, and leadership development.  Bruce and his wife, Mary, live in Charlotte, N.C. He serves on the board of ECFA and is an elder in his local church.

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Share with your board chair the idea of asking a board member (who gets board governance) to lead a 10-minute learning session.
• Make a list of what competencies are critical for potential candidates for your board.   
  



NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On Feb. 28, 2018, watch for George Duff's commentary on Lesson 15, "Cut Your Losses: Is it a $30,000 baseball or not?"

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, February 14, 2018

LESSON 13 - If You Need a Volunteer, Recruit a Volunteer

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. Dan Davis is our guest blogger this week for the third of four lessons in "Part 4: Epiphanies in the Boardroom."

LESSON 13 OF 40 - If You Need a Volunteer, Recruit a Volunteer
If you need a board member, recruit a board member.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK:
 In Lesson 13we are reminded of the difference between serving as a volunteer and serving as a governing board member.  Service is important but it can come in many different flavors.

Every board member is a volunteer, but not every volunteer can be a board member.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 13, pages 63-67:
• Peter Drucker: “There is one thing all boards have in common….They do not function.”
• “Why are you doing what others can do when leaving undone what only you can do?”
• There are three board hats that can be worn: Governance Hat, Volunteer Hat and Participant Hat
• Volunteering is OPTIONAL! 

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
Board members’ accountability to God for the ministry, their need for spiritual wisdom and discernment, and their responsibility for the direction of ministry should not be taken lightly. Not all volunteers are competent as board members. Only the board can set direction, establish/review policies, hire the CEO, and monitor results. These responsibilities take special skills that not all volunteers possess.  

Good governance takes time and special expertise which may leave little to no time for other volunteer opportunities. Do you have the right kind of volunteers serving on your board?

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY DAN DAVIS:

Dan Davis is the president of Mission Increase Foundation, a national organization helping Christian nonprofits with biblically-based fundraising and capacity building. Dan has worked in the Christian nonprofit space for over 25 years and serves on several boards in the Portland, Oregon area. He has been married to his wife, Megan, for 29 years and has two children attending college. For more information on Mission Increase Foundation, visit their website here.

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Are there board members that need to be released to pursue their greater passion in a volunteer role? If so, do the board and them a favor and free them to pursue this passion!
• In your next board meeting, review the three hats each board member wears and discuss the differences. Also, make sure to discuss this with each new member before you invite them on your board! 
  



NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On Feb. 21, 2018, watch for Bruce Johnson's commentary on Lesson 14, "If You Need a Board Member, Recruit a Board Member. If you need a volunteer, recruit a volunteer." 

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, February 7, 2018

LESSON 12 - Vision Growth Must Equal Leader Growth

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 Pate is our guest blogger this week for the second of four lessons in "Part 4: Epiphanies in the Boardroom."


LESSON 12 OF 40 - Vision Growth Must Equal Leader Growth
Caution! Vision-casting often backfires.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK:
 In Lesson 12, we’re reminded that the board’s top responsibility is to regularly discern, “Do we have the right CEO?”

Read how a young CEO’s vision-casting trip almost backfired—and why Bill Hybels would ask the staff at Willow Creek to “hold your jobs loosely.” 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 12, pages 59-62:
 Ram Charan: “There is nothing more important for a CEO than having the right strategy and right choice of goals, and for the board, the right strategy is second only to having the right CEO.”
• “Boards must be equally discerning when recruiting and selecting a CEO as they are when determining if it is time for their current CEO to exit. It’s often the most difficult decision a board will face—but they must.
• Richard Kriegbaum: “Oh, Lord, give me faith for this leap to the future. And make this a leap of leadership, not a solo jump.”

MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
I’ve met few leaders who readily admit that they are ill-prepared for the growth of their ministry. We can see shortcomings in others, but—let’s be honest—we’re often blind to our own leadership struggles. That’s why boards must regularly assess and plan for the organizational leadership needs of the future.

I agree that “many times only a new CEO with fresh thinking and fresh energy will bring new passion and perhaps needed gifting for your organization’s next season of ministry.” But—don’t exit your CEO yet! Inspire your CEO to grow with tools and resources such as: regular feedback, annual performance reviews—based on written goals, coaching, and a professional development plan (and budget). And pray daily for your CEO! 

THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY MIKE PATE:


MIKE PATE is the executive director of camping for Transformation Ministries, a regional association of more than 170 churches. He leads three camps and two outdoor education LLC’s that operate in four states. Mike is the board vice chair of Christian Community Credit Union and in 2016 and 2017, served as a board coach in the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Board Leadership & Development Program. His favorite books include The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield, and Sailing Alone Around the World, by Joshua Slocum.

TO-DO TODAY: 
• Is it time to stretch your board’s vision? Hold your next board meeting, or board retreat, at an inspirational location.
• Confirm that you’re giving your CEO adequate feedback and encouragement. Does your CEO have a written professional development plan?
  



NEXT WEDNESDAY:

On Feb. 14, 2018, watch for Dan Davis' commentary on Lesson 13, "If You Need a Volunteer, Recruit a Volunteer. If you need a board member, recruit a board member." 

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.