Tuesday, January 21, 2020

TOOL 14 – The Rolling 3-Year Strategic Plan Placemat

He finally had time to work on the strategic plan.

7 Reasons Why Strategic Plans Fail


Read pages 4 and 5 in Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin, and you’re hooked (and convicted)! The authors list five ineffective ways that many leaders use when defining and addressing the strategy process:

   1) “They define strategy as vision.
   2) They define strategy as a plan.
   3) They deny that long-term (or even medium-term) strategy is possible.
   4) They define strategy as the optimization of the status quo.
   5) They define strategy as following best practices.”

How does your board define strategy? (Read my review.)

TOOL #14: THE ROLLING 3-YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN PLACEMAT
Roll-up your sleeves and gather the strategically-gifted board and senior staff around the table—and begin with this: “What is our strategy?” 


Tool #14 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 4, “Taking Time for Strategic Planning,” in this jam-packed 271-page resource. The tool features a simple one-page template (11” x 17”) and a process for creating and annually updating a rolling 3-year plan.

Many ministries have used a variety of strategic plan approaches (and reminder—one size doesn’t fit all). We appreciate “The Rolling 3-Year Strategic Plan Placemat” process first introduced to us by David Schmidt of Wise Planning.

But—warning! The strategic plan placemat is the final step, not the first step, in developing, discerning, and delivering a God-inspired strategic plan. As a first step, the tool includes a pop quiz to assess the readiness of the board and staff to begin a strategic planning process. There are at least seven reasons why strategic plans fail, including:
   • EVENT THINKING: Strategic planning is viewed as an event or a task, instead of a transformational ongoing year-round process.
   • INTERRUPTION: Strategic planning is seen as an “add-on” interruption and inconvenience to my “real work,” instead of becoming absolutely core to my role.
   • SACRED COWS: Strategic planning “economizes” by involving fewer and “safer” stakeholders who honor tradition, dead horses and sacred cows, versus out-of-the-box dangerous ideas!

Caution! Review all seven reasons why strategic planning might fail in your organization—before you launch! You may find that several key people (board and/or staff) have never experienced a healthy and effective strategic planning experience.

And this reminder from Ruth Haley Barton:
“Just because something is strategic
does not necessarily mean
it is God’s will for us right now.”


Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION: Is prayer or “pseudo prayer” part of our strategic planning process? “Pseudo prayer…gives a wink and a prayer to holy input, versus an extraordinary process of assembling spiritually discerning people together to hear from God—who then joyfully follow His plan.” 

MORE RESOURCES: In his guest blog, “Engage Board Members in Generative Thinking,” from the new book, More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, Bruce Johnson reminds board members that one of the three governance functions, generative thinking, is often ignored in the boardroom—and that’s unfortunate! Click here to read his blog—and how your board can use generative thinking to enrich your strategic planning process.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

TOOL 13 – Board Retreat Read-and-Reflect Worksheets


Deputize a “Leaders Are Readers Champion"


Dan Busby and I recommend that every ministry board deputize a “Leaders Are Readers Champion." Appoint one board member to keep the lifelong learning core value on the front burner. Provide a small budget so he or she can keep abreast of the latest trends and issues—especially through the books that board members need to read, listen to, or hear reports on.


As former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis recently wrote in his bestseller, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, “If you haven’t read hundreds of books, learning from others who went before you, you are functionally illiterate—you can’t coach and you can’t lead.”
  
TOOL #13: BOARD RETREAT READ-AND-REFLECT WORKSHEETS
Prior to your next board retreat, create a “Read-and-Reflect Worksheet” and inspire your board to read one governance book in preparation for your retreat. 


Tool #13 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 4, “Taking Time for Strategic Planning,” in this jam-packed 271-page resource. The tool recommends seven options for pre-reading assignments before your next board retreat.

How do you engage board members? First you need to define what you mean and want for “engagement.” (Too much engagement could lead to micro-managing!) Many boards, however, have inspired board members to all read the same book prior to the annual board retreat. This tool provides sample “Read-and-Reflect Worksheets” for seven books—and various engagement methodologies, such as asking each board member to share a 10-minute chapter review (five minutes of content and five minutes for discussion and next steps). The options:

Option 1: Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask, by Ram Charan (Read my review.) 
Option 2: Peter Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions: Enduring Wisdom for Today’s Leaders, by Peter F. Drucker, Frances Hesselbein, and Joan Snyder Kuhl (Read my review.) 
Option 3: Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board, by Max De Pree (Read my review.) 
Option 4: Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings (2nd Edition), by Dan Busby and John Pearson (See the 40 blog posts.) 
 Option 5: Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance (2nd Edition), by Dan Busby and John Pearson (Read my summary.) 
Option 6: More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: Effectiveness, Excellence, Elephants! by Dan Busby and John Pearson (Read my summary.) 
 Option 7: The Council: A Biblical Perspective on Board Governance, by Gary G. Hoag, Wesley K. Willmer, and Gregory J. Henson (Read my review.) 

For example in Tool #13, the one-page chapter review on page 154 lists four fill-in-the-blank reflection questions and discussion starters:
• My favorite quotation from the chapter
• My ONE BIG IDEA or take-away from this chapter
• Insight or implication for our board
• Question for groups-of-two discussions

Like many of the resources, Tool #13 is an “add-water-and-stir” package with many easy-to-use and boardroom-tested formats.


Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION: When was the last time our board read a governance book together—and made boardroom improvements as a result of our study? For more book options, check out this blog, “Best Board Books: Index to 18 Good Governance Stimulators.”

MORE RESOURCES: Kent Stroman notes, “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!” Read his thoughts on Lesson 38 in the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, “Great Boards Delegate Their Reading. Deputize a ‘Leaders Are Readers Champion.’”

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

TOOL 12 – Quarterly Board Meeting Agenda and Recommendations


Plan a Robust “Heavy Lifting” Segment at Every Board Meeting


What are the key elements of an effective agenda and board meeting? This tool lists four ingredients:

Advance Materials (arriving seven to 10 days before the meeting)
Advance Preparation (unexcused absences are rare—because thoughtful agendas signal why every meeting is important—and board member prep is thorough)
Balanced Content (relational and inspirational; good news and bad news; due diligence and faith-stretching; and much more)
Strengths Are Leveraged (the board chair and the CEO lead the board in leveraging everyone’s 3 Powerful S’s: Strengths, Social styles, and Spiritual gifts)

TOOL #12: QUARTERLY BOARD MEETING AGENDA AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Use this agenda template to signal the board, seven to 10 days in advance, that this board meeting is important—and their insights are needed.


Tool #12 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 3, “Reporting to the Board,” in this jam-packed 271-page resource. The tool suggests, as an example, how to conduct an “assumptions exercise” during the regular “Heavy Lifting” session of the board meeting.

If your standard board meeting agenda template arrived with the Mayflower, maybe it’s time to refresh your agenda and refresh your board’s engagement and impact. Ed McDowell, executive director of Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center, Stanwood, Wash., works with his board chair to allocate one to two hours at each quarterly board meeting for what they call “heavy lifting.” Here the board practices generative thinking and wrestles with a big ministry opportunity or dilemma.


This tool also references four strategic planning steps noted in Rumsfeld’s Rules, including “Step 2: Identify Your Key Assumptions.” In my experience, many strategic plans—approved by boards—miss this critical step. Donald Rumsfeld writes:

“The assumptions stage of strategic planning tends to be one of the most neglected. Assumptions are often left unstated, it being taken for granted that everyone around a table knows what they are, when frequently that is not the case. The assumptions that are hidden or held subconsciously are the ones that often get you into trouble.” He adds:
“It is possible to proceed perfectly logically from an inaccurate premise to an inaccurate and unfortunate conclusion.”

Experiment with a heavy-lifting hour on “assumptions.” Then ask your board for ideas on your next four board meetings as you plan robust “Heavy Lifting” segments at each meeting.

Include time, of course, for prayer, discernment, silence and solitude, and listening. Read Lesson 11: "Tap! Tap! Tap!" in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, because “the arms of your CEO may be weary.” Remember in Exodus 17:12 “how Aaron and Hur held up Moses’s hands, one on each side” until sunset. That’s heavy lifting!

Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION: Warm Beach Camp board vice chair Bob King suggests that boards “decrease staff reporting and increase heavy lifting.” (Click here for his guest blog.) He notes that better board agendas will eliminate wasted time and help you focus on heavy-lifting topics. How could our board better maximize our board meeting time—so we are more effective stewards of God’s work?

MORE RESOURCES: Do you have agenda clutter? Ralph Enlow, president of the Association for Biblical Higher Education, used that descriptive malady in his guest blog for the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog. He writes, “…I find that the fatal combination of passivity and agenda clutter conspires to crowd out efforts to walk the talk of continuous board development.” Click here to read Enlow’s guest blog for Lesson 1.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

TOOL 11 – Monthly Dashboard Report


What Are Your CEO’s Top-5 Goals This Year?


Peter Drucker warned, “If you have more than five goals, you have none.”


Michael Hyatt’s book on goals, Your Best Year Ever, cautions about sloppy goal-setting:

“Goals poorly formulated
are goals easily forgotten.”


Gary Keller, author of The ONE Thing, notes: “Individuals who wrote their goals and sent progress reports to friends were 76.7 percent more likely to achieve them.”


So…when it comes to goal-setting in your ministry, does your CEO embrace “S.M.A.R.T.” goals—and what accountability is in place for reporting progress on goals? This tool will help!

TOOL #11: MONTHLY DASHBOARD REPORT
Use this tool to update the board and senior team on the CEO’s Top-5 Annual S.M.A.R.T. Goals. (Send updates at least monthly.)


Tool #11 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 3, “Reporting to the Board,” in this jam-packed 271-page resource. The tool also helps answer the question for board members, “What should we be praying about?”

Imagine the impact and clarity about CEO priorities—if on the 15th of every month, your CEO emailed a one-page progress report to the board with color-coded updates on the board-approved “Top-5 S.M.A.R.T. Goals for the CEO.”

   • Green (On Target!)
   • Yellow (Caution!)
   • Red (Alert!)

S.M.A.R.T. Goals are:
   • Specific
   • Measurable
   • Achievable
   • Realistic
   • Time-related

We’ve all grimaced in boardrooms over many “Not-So-SMART Goals,” such as:
1) Plan the best annual meeting event on the planet!
2) Increase the number of donors giving $5 billion or more.
3) Conduct a client satisfaction survey by Sept. 30, 2020.
4) Launch the XYZ Program as soon as possible in numerous cities.
5) To raise $50,000, ask every donor to give an extra $10 this month.

Tool #11, “Monthly Dashboard Report,” includes color commentary, a convicting true story by Peter Drucker, examples of S.M.A.R.T. goals, a one-page color-coded template, six questions (and quotes) for the board on goal-setting, and two factoids on CEO goals from a recent ECFA governance survey.

Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION: Ruth Haley Barton has the audacity to write, “Just because something is strategic does not necessarily mean it is God’s will for us right now.” Have we used a spiritual discernment process to discern our goals for the year?

MORE RESOURCES: David Schmidt weighs in on “Don’t Stretch Credulity With BHAGs and Stretch Goals,” and notes this: “Always—we must test motives and drivers when setting goals. Pride and fear can easily disguise themselves as bold leadership.” Click here to read Schmidt’s guest blog on chapter 37 in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings, by Dan Busby and John Pearson.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

TOOL 10 – The 5/15 Monthly Report to the Board


Eliminate Hallway Whining!


In the hallways of boardrooms, perhaps the most constant whine is, “We don’t hear from our CEO in between board meetings. How can I steward this ministry, if I’m not in the loop?”


True or False?
• Informative reports to the board from our CEO are received regularly.
• As a board member, I’m sometimes the last to hear both good and bad news.
• I receive way too many emails from our CEO—and I can’t discern what’s really important and what’s really just an FYI.
• I faithfully respond to every email or phone call from our CEO within 24 hours.
• Our Board Policies Manual establishes the type and frequency of reports from our CEO. 

TOOL #10: THE 5/15 MONTHLY REPORT TO THE BOARD
Use this tool to keep the board informed and inspired between meetings. Once formatted, it takes just 15 minutes to write and 5 minutes to read.


Tool #10 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 3, “Reporting to the Board,” in this jam-packed 271-page resource. While all 22 tools will help most boards, if I had to pick the most highly-appreciated tool, it would be The 5/15 Monthly Report to the Board.

Once formatted by a key staff member, the 5/15 Report can be reviewed and enriched by the CEO in about 15 minutes. Emailed monthly on the same date (perhaps the 15th), board members will be kept in the loop on good news, bad news, and routine news. The tool can be customized for your unique needs, but most 5/15 Reports will likely include:

   • Next board meeting date
   • Monthly Dashboard Report and progress on the CEO’s three to five SMART goals (see Tool #11)
   • Committee highlights (bullet points only—and only if there is new information)
   • Board Nominating Committee “Pipeline Report” (see Tools #1, 2, and 3)
   • Monthly Financial Report Summary
   • Major Program Notes (bullet points)

Many CEOs also include a brief ministry story, key events on the organization’s calendar, the CEO’s travel schedule, prayer requests, and the board-approved Schedule of Board Meetings (with key agenda topics) for the next 12 to 24 months. You’ll find that the 5/15 Report will be an exceptional communication tool. 

Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION (after receiving the first draft of The CEO’s 5/15 Monthly Report to the board): What was helpful and informative? What was unnecessary? What prompted you to pray? What encouraged or inspired you? What would you add or edit? Will you commit to responding within 24 hours monthly—with a quick email (“Got it!” or “Praying for you!”)?

MORE RESOURCES: When I began serving as CEO of Christian Management Association (now CLA), Pat Clements was the board chair and introduced me to the 5/15 report. I used this simple communication tool monthly for 11 years! (Thanks, Pat!) Read Clements’ guest blog on Lessons 6, “Eliminate Hallway Whining,” in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings, by Dan Busby and John Pearson.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

TOOL 9 – The Board's Annual Evaluation of the Top Leader


“Spotting, Catching, or Exiting a Falling CEO”

Heed this caution from Ram Charan and his co-authors of Boards That Lead: When to Take Charge, When to Partner, and When to Stay Out of the Way:

“…it is useful for [board members] to keep a weather eye on early signs of executive deficits. Assuming that the [organization’s] central idea has been well formulated in the boardroom, three embryonic indicators, if ignored too long, often mushroom into far more:
   • lack of strategy,
   • failure to execute, and
   • wrong people calls.”

TOOL #9: THE BOARD'S ANNUAL EVALUATION OF THE TOP LEADER
Review these templates—and then customize your annual process so it fits your unique situation and your unique top leader! (One size doesn’t fit all.)


Tool #9 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of six assessments in Part 2 of this jam-packed 271-page resource. 
Conducting an annual evaluation of the top leader (CEO or senior pastor—the one person who reports directly to the board) will help boards “to keep a weather eye on early signs of executive deficits.” 

But the annual performance review is so much more than that. It’s also an opportunity to affirm the top leader, further leverage his or her strengths, and—sometimes—recommend a coach to enrich your CEO’s leadership in targeted areas.

This tool features a robust 22-page section with seven helpful resources and tools:
   1. Two Books: Two Insights
   2. Understanding the Context for the Top Leader’s Annual Assessment
   3. One Approach for the Annual Assessment of the Top Leader (Consultant Help)
   4. A Common Assessment Finding: “Delegation Deficiencies”
   5. Two Resources: BoardSource Online Assessments and CarverGuide7
   6. Four More Books: More Insights on Assessment of the Top Leader
   7. “Cut-and-Paste” Template for Online Survey: Top Leader Annual Assessment

The 10-page “cut-and-paste” template for an online survey can be dropped into most survey tools such as SurveyMonkey or others. Section D of this survey encourages boards to review their CEO’s top-five strengths from the CliftonStrengths®/StrengthsFinder assessment—and then respond to a Yes/No question, “In your opinion, do people around our CEO help him maximize these Top-5 strengths?”

There’s also space for seven open-ended questions, such as “What should our top leader STOP doing in his/her leadership role (or style) in order to become a more effective leader for the organization?” This add-water-and-stir assessment template parallels many of the 20 core competencies detailed on my Management Buckets website.


Why address strengths? According to strengths gurus Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, “While the best leaders are not well-rounded, the best teams are.” (Read my review of Strength Based Leadership.) Don’t inappropriately evaluate your CEO on strengths or spiritual gifts that were not God-given. No leader is the complete package. Instead, leverage the unique God-given gifts of your CEO—and inspire your CEO to build a well-balanced team.

Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION: Why strengths? The authors of Strengths Based Leadership write, “The odds of an employee being engaged are a dismal one in 11 (9%). But when an organization’s leadership focuses on the strengths of its employees, the odds soar to almost three in four (73%).” Are we leveraging our CEO’s strengths? Are we leveraging the strengths of our board members?

MORE RESOURCES: Guest blogger Ed Morgan notes in his color commentary on “Spotting, Catching, or Exiting a Falling CEO,” that “…the cardinal sin of omission by the board is the lack of yearly evaluations against board-approved goals.” Read more in Lesson 26 in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings, by Dan Busby and John Pearson.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

TOOL 8 – The Board's Annual Fundraising Audit


Pop Quiz on Fundraising Practices!

Suppose…at your next board meeting, your CEO and chief development officer announced:


Good News! Our total annual giving for our recent fiscal year was the largest in our ministry’s history.”

Bad News! The total number of donors has decreased (even though giving is up) over the last three fiscal years.”


Does the good news exceed the bad news? Should the board be concerned? Experienced board members would likely ask to see the data. That’s why Tool #8 is a helpful annual checklist for your board.

TOOL #8: THE BOARD'S ANNUAL FUNDRAISING AUDIT
Use this TRUE OR FALSE annual audit as a first step in assessing if the ministry is communicating giving opportunities with integrity and accuracy—and whether or not the board understands and affirms the ministry’s current fundraising practices.


Tool #8 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of six assessments in Part 2 of this jam-packed 271-page resource. 
John Frank and Scott Rodin recommend that boards develop reporting, measurement, and accountability tools regarding expectations between the CEO, the board chair, and the Chief Development Officer—and set policy and budgets according to those expectations. They add:

“By having solid reporting tools tied to your key performance metrics, you will be able to spot trouble early and respond.” (Read Chapter 3, “The Role of the Board in Development,” in their helpful book, Development 101.)

The big idea in Tool #8: in addition to regular reports you already review in your good governance practices, this annual checklist of 10 statements will keep the board informed. The two-page checklist asks for a TRUE or FALSE response to each statement—and includes space for answering the question, “How does the board know?” Examples:

TRUE OR FALSE?
#2. “The board understands the ministry’s fundraising program relating to raising restricted donations.”
#6. “The board knows if staff or external fundraisers are being compensated on the basis of a percentage of funds raised.”
#9. “The board is compiling, analyzing, and leveraging giving data to serve and support its giving base.”

A sample completed checklist is included with Tool #8 and features color-coded “Ministry Dashboard Signals” in the “How does the board know?” section:
   • Red: Act
   • Yellow: Watch
   • Green: Celebrate

After you review the 10 statements, ask your development team to brief the board on your ministry’s “theology of development.” When you have a written document on your theology of development, you’ll appreciate the guidance it gives to the CEO, the CDO, and the board to ensure that all fundraising practices are in alignment with the ministry’s mission, vision, values, and theology. (See the book, Development 101, for a sample document.) 

Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION: Around the table, answer TRUE or FALSE to this statement: “#4. The board is aware of communication being shared with givers concerning the potential of over-funding or under-funding of projects for which funds are being raised.”

MORE RESOURCES: Could your board members pass a pop quiz of fundraising practices? Read Scott Rodin’s color commentary blog on Lesson 24, “Ministry Fundraising 101 for Board Members” (click here) in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Rodin notes: “As board members, we must understand the ideology/theology behind our development strategy. That will drive our desire for funds to be raised according to Biblical ethics, and used as the giving partner requests.”