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.”

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.)


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.

• 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.


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."

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