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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.” 

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.


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. 

• 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? 


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."

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