Tuesday, February 25, 2020

TOOL 19 - Ten Minutes for Governance


Lifelong Governance Learning—in 10-Minute Chunks!


“Leadership is a complex field,” writes Richard Kriegbaum, “and no one resource can meet all the needs of every leader in every situation.”

So here’s a very, very simple boardroom best practice: In every board meeting, remind board members that good governance does not happen by osmosis. It happens only with intentionality, training, and keeping critical governance topics (like focusing on policy, not operations) on everyone’s radar.

TOOL #19: TEN MINUTES FOR GOVERNANCE
Use this tool at every meeting to enhance lifelong learning.


Tool #19 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of four tools in Part 6, “Ideas for Better Board Governance,” in this jam-packed 271-page resource. This tool features two templates—and two ideas—for spotlighting good governance in a 10-minute segment at your next board meeting. Pick one!

Why is this important? John Walling notes, “Every board member carries unhealthy baggage into your meeting that passed as normalcy in a previous boardroom.” Thus, your board may find it helpful to return to “Christ-Centered Governance 101” topics frequently!

To get started, create a master list of possible topics (board policies, recruiting board members, understanding financial reports, ten basic responsibilities of nonprofit boards, the distinctives of Christ-centered governance, etc.). You might also find helpful topics using selected chapters from Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom (40 lessons) and More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom (40 lessons).

Teachers often learn more than their students, so rotate the leadership of this segment. Give board members advance notice when asking them to prepare a presentation. Suggest that each 10-minute segment include at least four to five minutes of interaction and dialogue. 

Example: “In groups of two, read these 10 listening guidelines and identify the one guideline that is most difficult for you.” (Use a timer that buzzes at 10 minutes.)

In addition to assigned reading prior to board retreats, and inspiring board members to read at least one governance book a year, you’ll discover that a “10 Minutes for Governance” segment at every meeting will keep Christ-centered governance on the front burner.

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: Strong differences of opinion can flare up in the boardroom—often based on a board member’s previous board experience (healthy or unhealthy—yet the only experience he or she has had). Are we in agreement about our “Christ-Centered Governance 101” assumptions—or is it time for a refresher? One option: read the ECFAPress book, The Council: A Biblical Perspective on Board Governance, by Gary G. Hoag, Wesley K. Willmer, and Gregory J. Henson.

MORE RESOURCES: John Walling suggests that you pilot test “10 Minutes for Governance” at your next two board meetings. Then evaluate whether you should add this to your standard agenda. Read his guest blog on Lesson 39 at the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog. Click here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

TOOL 18 - Job Descriptions for the Top Leader and Board Chair

The Number One Hiring Mistake!

What’s the Number One hiring mistake? According to the book, You're Not the Person I Hired! A CEO's Survival Guide to Hiring Top Talent, by Janet Boydell, Barry Deutsch and Brad Remillard, it’s this:

“Inadequate job descriptions drove the hiring process; these focused solely on experience and skills, not company expectations. A staggering 93 percent of searches that resulted in new executive failure made this mistake at the outset.”

While you don’t “hire” a board chair—the principles are similar to when boards are recruiting a new CEO. Who should be your next board chair? Use a thoughtful job description to help drive the decision and the discernment process.

TOOL #18: JOB DESCRIPTIONS FOR THE TOP LEADER AND BOARD CHAIR
Use these sample job descriptions for the Board Chair and the CEO and then leverage these insights to refresh your thinking and your annual assessments.


Tool #18 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 5, “Policies and Board Responsibilities,” in this jam-packed 271-page resource. This tool features 20 pages of resources on developing and refreshing two critical job descriptions: the CEO and the board chair.

Yikes! The authors of You’re Not the Person I Hired include this poke-in-the-board-ribs:

“The harsh reality is, when you define a job in mediocre terms,
you tend to attract and interview mediocre people.”

As you develop or refresh your board chair’s job description, the tool suggests you consider using David McKenna’s “nine M’s” to frame what he calls the “distinctive role of the board chair for the Christ-centered ministry.” Call of the Chair: Leading the Board of the Christ-centered Ministry lists nine roles:
   • Missionary, Model, and Mentor
   • Manager, Moderator, and Mediator
   • Monitor, Master, and Maestro

Under the “manager” role, McKenna writes, “Like a one-stringed banjo player, the chair will always sound the note reminding the members that the board’s role is policy, not execution.” (See Tool #17: Board Policies Manual.)

Worksheets for the CEO job description are also included in this tool—with thoughtful alignment to the Board Policies Manual template. While many CEOs tend to be overwhelmed with their visionary roles and responsibilities (and detailed to-do lists), Fred Laughlin and Bob Andringa’s book, Good Governance for Nonprofits, nets it out to just two major areas:
   • “Organizational accomplishment of the major organizational goals, and
   • Organizational operations within the boundaries of prudence and ethics established in board policies on Executive Parameters in Part V.”

If you’re starting from a blank sheet of paper, check out the recommended resources, including the ECFA Knowledge Center and the book from BoardSource, The Nonprofit Chief Executive’s Ten Basic Responsibilities (Second Edition), by Rick Moyers

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: This tool suggests that before you write or refresh the CEO and board chair job descriptions, you position your thinking around priorities and results—and read the powerful book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan. Here’s a helpful axiom: “What’s the ONE Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?” (Click here to read my review.) 

MORE RESOURCES: David McKenna wrote the guest blog for Lesson 22, in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. In “The Most Underrated Board Position,” McKenna writes, “The board chair must have the character of being first among equals in integrity, trust and humility.” Read his blog post here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

TOOL 17 - Board Policies Manual (BPM)


Policy: The Board’s Chief Occupation—Not an Occasional Board Chore


Governance Guru John Carver preaches, “Governing by policy means governing out of policy in the sense that no board activity takes place without reference to policies. Most resolutions in board meetings will be motions to amend the policy structure in some way. Consequently, policy development is not an occasional board chore but its chief occupation.”

So do you need a flashlight and emergency provisions to search for all of your board-approved policies over the last five decades? Good news—there’s an easier way! 

TOOL #17: BOARD POLICIES MANUAL (BPM)
Use this tool to create a Board Policies Manual (BPM)—and finally, you’ll have all your policies in one document and always updated.


Tool #17 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 5, “Policies and Board Responsibilities,” in this jam-packed 271-page resource. This tool features a 15-page template that will help you include all board-level policies in one simple and clarifying document.

In their very practical and helpful book/tutorial, Good Governance for Nonprofits: Developing Principles and Policies for an Effective Board, Bob Andringa and Fred Laughlin deliver an “add-water-and-stir” template for creating your customized Board Policies Manual (BPM). This living, dynamic document is designed for frequent reference at every board meeting and can be edited for policy adjustments when growth (or decline) or other factors mandate policy changes.

In “Part 1: Introduction and Administration,” the authors list six reasons your board should adopt a BPM:
   1. Efficiency of having all ongoing board policies in one place
   2. Ability to quickly orient and educate new board members and key staff about current policies
   3. Elimination of redundant, or conflicting, policies over time
   4. Ease of reviewing current policy while simultaneously considering new issues
   5. Opportunity to guide the Chief Executive, senior staff, and new board members through clear, pro-active policies
   6. A modeled approach to governance that other organizations might utilize

When your Governance Committee takes on this project, encourage them to use the companion book, Good Governance for Nonprofits, with helpful color commentary on every section and sub-section of the BMP template. This one tool—when properly implemented—will save your board members precious time over the next several years—and help streamline your board meetings. Honest!

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: At our recent board meetings, did discussion on some agenda topics go on and on and on? Was the discussion tied to an outdated policy or the lack of a policy? Is it time to gather all of our policies into a BPM? 

MORE RESOURCES: Bob Andringa writes, “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.” Read his guest blog, “Do Unwritten Board Policies Really Exist?” from Lesson 4 in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Click here to read more.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

TOOL 16 - Prime Responsibility Chart


Eliminate Fuzziness Between Board and Staff Roles


What’s the role of the board? Does everyone agree?

Ministering? Listening, encouraging, and praying with ministry directors?
Monitoring? Ensuring that every ministry has goals, reports, and results?
Meddling? Jumping in with new ideas, fixing problems, and addressing personnel issues?
Micro-managing? In the weeds, obsessing over details, and mandating lengthy reports?

Here’s a one-page tool for fixing fuzziness! 

TOOL #16: PRIME RESPONSIBILITY CHART
Use this tool to eliminate fuzziness between board and staff roles.


Tool #16 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 5, “Policies and Board Responsibilities,” in this jam-packed 271-page resource. The tool features a simple one-page template for clarifying who has authority and approval for board and staff roles and responsibilities.
This one-page “Prime Responsibility Chart” includes five columns: the tasks (example: Hire and fire the top leader), then four columns—noting roles—for the Board, the CEO, the EVP or VP, and Dept. Heads.

Responsibility for each task across the chart is delineated with just three designations:
   P = Prime Responsibility
   A = Assistant Responsibility
   AP = Approval Required

In the absence of a Board Policies Manual (see Tool #17), this one-pager is a helpful way to quickly discern the board’s role versus the staff’s role. And—this is key—it is designed to be updated (Example: “Version 5.0, Feb. 4, 2020”) in any board meeting and then emailed to the board and senior staff immediately after board meetings—so everyone is always working from the same page.

Ask your Governance Committee (or Executive Committee) to create Version 1.0 and present at your next board meeting.

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: The PRC won’t solve all of your challenges, but you can begin by ensuring that your staff organizational chart is crystal clear. Verify that each staff member has just one direct supervisor. Reminder: the CEO is the only person that reports directly to the board. Are all board members clear on this principle?

MORE RESOURCES: In her guest blog, “Sidetrack Harebrained Ideas,” from the book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, Tami Heim notes that, “If you’ve ever served on a board, then more than likely you have experienced how painful it is to be sidetracked by a harebrained idea that shows up out of nowhere.” The Prime Responsibility Chart is a helpful antidote to blocking harebrained ideas before they grow legs! Click here to read more.

READ MORE: Read Lesson 7, “Eliminate Fuzziness Between Board and Staff Roles,” in More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here for the online chapter.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

TOOL 15 - Board Retreat Trend-Spotting Exercise


Ostrich or Eagle?


James Belasco writes, “You can never do enough looking over the wall to learn how to do things. Seeing excellence in action helps individuals visualize how they can do it for themselves.”


What’s the culture in your organization? Ostrich or eagle?

Ostrich: head-in-sand, oblivious to trends, no customer feedback, never hearing from God.
Eagle:
big picture, soaring, searching, discerning, and selective.

TOOL #15: BOARD RETREAT TREND-SPOTTING EXERCISE
Use this trend-spotting template to generate insights and interaction on a key hot topic at your next retreat—each person presenting one article.


Tool #15 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 (and an example) for engaging every board member to present a trend on a key topic at your next board retreat.

Ironically, many CEOs wonder how to engage their board members at a deeper level—but then in the boardroom and at the annual board retreat, those same CEOs talk/talk/talk…and expect their bored board members to listen/listen/listen.

The solution? Try this trend-spotting exercise with five easy steps:
1) Select a hot topic on trends. (Example: “Church or denominational trends that impact our work.”)
2) Email a blank template and instructions to each board member.
3) Ask each board member to find a relevant article on the hot topic from: a newspaper, magazine, TED Talk, blog, professional journal, or a niche chapter in a book.
4) Each board member then shares the article and distributes copies of the article (see the example in the book).
5) Each board member has EIGHT MINUTES MAXIMUM to share the hot topic. 

For fun! Award a Chick-fil-A card if the board member is done before your iPhone alarm goes off.

This tool also reminds you to enjoy how each of the four social styles might do an eight-minute trend-spotting presentation. Drivers, of course, will present three memorable points and a bottom-line take-away (or task). Amiables, however, will likely use all eight minutes with a heart-warming story. Enjoy the diversity of your board members—and celebrate the God-designed uniqueness of each person!

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: How diligent are we in trend-spotting and then discerning God’s direction for major programmatic changes in our ministry’s work?

MORE RESOURCES: In his guest blog, “Think and Pray Outside the Box—and the County!” from the book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, David Curry reminds us that “The tyranny of the day-to-day—budgets, meetings, and yearly events to sustain life and keep the lights on—can overwhelm most leaders and sap our energy, leaving little that could be used to power a big, God-sized vision.” Click here to read more.

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.’”