Friday, December 29, 2017

The Top 10 Most Read Blogs in 2017

“Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable,”
noted Mark Twain. So this last blog of the year highlights some statistics (the Top 10 Most Read Blogs in 2017) and delivers, maybe, a few facts.

I’ve never focused on big numbers when preaching good governance. Most of the last 12 years, I’ve enjoyed immense satisfaction in working with one board, or one CEO, or one board member at a time. Thus, to write a blog that will be read (sometimes) by members of more than one board—priceless! And a privilege.

In 2017, you may recall, I milked one book for 30 blogs. Max De Pree’s 91-page gem, Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board, featured meat on virtually every page. So it’s interesting (at least to me) that nine of the 10 most-read blogs in 2017 emanated from the De Pree book. 

The Top 10 Most Read Blogs in 2017

#1. Called to Serve: The Ten-Foot Pole Tension 
Max De Pree: “In the letter on the role of trustees, I reviewed some ideas on the matter of evaluating a board member’s performance. This is guaranteed to produce tension. Most boards and committees I know won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.” Read more.

#2. Called to Serve: Board Member Self-Measurements 
Max De Pree: “Like other forms of leadership, [board service is] not a position or an honor, but rather a demanding responsibility, a meddling in other people’s lives, and hard work that requires continuous learning.” Read more.

#3. Called to Serve: Governance Through the Prism of the Agenda 
People who are task-oriented and get-it-done “Type A” movers and shakers may not (my opinion) have the wiring, or the gifting, to be effective board members. Max De Pree cautions, “The board is not an instrument for doing.” Read more.

#4. Called to Serve: The Phone-Book-Size Board Packet Syndrome 
Max De Pree: “A friend told me recently that when he gets his agenda package only a day or two before the meeting, he knows he is not being taken seriously.” Read more.

#5. Called to Serve: The Error of Leadership Indifference 
The author references an entire chapter on trust in his book, Leading Without Power: Finding Hope in Serving Community. It’s worth the read—especially the baseball story of the distracted second baseman who allowed a runner to steal second, resulting in two errors on one play. “After a few minutes the official scorer, not knowing exactly how to score such a play, announced over the public address system that he had decided to write off the second error to ‘defensive indifference.’” Read more.

#6. Seven Ways to Address Absentee Board Member Syndrome 
Sometimes (let’s be honest!), board members skip meetings because they are not needed. The CEO and staff do all the talking. Next steps are all buttoned down. Read more.

#7. Called to Serve: Coherence With Corrals
The board sets the fences to the corral—thereby giving the CEO and senior team clarity on what needs, or does not need, board approval or even reporting. CEOs, however, must report when policy has been violated. “You should know that last Friday, I had to operate outside the corral due to the following extenuating circumstances.” Read more.

#8. Called to Serve: Don’t Neglect Your CEO’s Growth 
Frequently, budget cuts begin by slashing opportunities for CEO and senior team enrichment—which is short sighted. It reminds me of this poignant comment traversing the Internet:
   --CFO to CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?
   --CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and then they stay?” Read more.

#9. Called to Serve: Challenged With Measurable Work
De Pree cautions boards not to play down what you expect of board members. “Misleading expectations result in nothing but grief. To tell you the truth, good people don’t want to be part of something that requires little of them.” Read more.

#10. Called to Serve: There Are No Committee Statues!
   --Max De Pree: “Always keep in mind…that people, not structures, change the world.”
   --G.K. Chesterton famously said: “I've searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees.” Read more.

Thanks for reading in 2017 and inspiring your board toward greater God-honoring effectiveness. And for more resources, follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on the new book by Dan Busby and yours truly, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Baiting the Board Hook for Maximum Engagement

About now, 12 days before Christmas, a few CEOs (and more likely, their executive assistants) are scrambling to find meaningful gifts for their board members.

Here’s a gift idea that will keep on giving and giving and giving. What if…your CEO pledged to wear board member shoes all year?

I recently came across the following insightful metaphor from Bill Hoyt in his book, Effectiveness by the Numbers: Counting What Counts in the Church: 
“It is not according to the taste of the angler,
but according to the taste of the fish
that one baits the hook.”

When your CEO and senior team members (and CFOs especially) step into the virtual shoes of board members, I’m guessing several things will happen:

#1. BOARD PREFERENCES. CEOs will support the board according to the board’s taste (preferences, learning styles, meeting times, etc.) and not the CEO’s taste.
·            Example: Your CEO’s learning style might be listening, but the learning style of her board members might be reading. (Click here to listen to The Flourishing Culture Podcast on learning styles, and much more.)

#2. BOARD REPORTS. Board reports will be delivered on time (or even early!) so board members have adequate time to pray, discern, and reflect on board meeting agendas, reports, and recommendations.
·            Insight: “What kind of CEO waits until the night before the board meeting to dump on the directors a phone-book-size report…Surely not a CEO who trusts his or her board.” (Read the HBR article, “What Makes Great Boards Great.”)

#3. BOARD TIME. When CEOs wear board member shoes, there will be greater sensitivity to the limited time board members actually have for board work.
·             Idea. Urge your CEO to serve on another nonprofit board—to experience the boardroom from the other end of the table. It will be a wake-up call!

#4. BOARD STRENGTHS. There’s a humorous story in Lesson 25 of Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, “Align Board Member Strengths With Committee Assignments.” The big idea: CEOs and board chairs must leverage the “3 Powerful S’s” of every board member: Strengths, Spiritual Gifts, and Social Styles. That would be a huge gift to every person.
·            Example: When you assign me to committees that don’t leverage my strengths, I’m likely to skip the meeting. But when you invite me to serve in an area that aligns and exercises my 3 Powerful S’swhew!—that’s an instant holy calling!

If you still need a gift—in addition to a Christmas card with the above pledge—then (you guessed it) give every board member a copy of Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Merry Christmas!

BOARDROOM ASSIGNMENT: Take five minutes at your next board meeting and ask every board member to share how God has wired them: spiritual gifts, social style (analytical, driving, amiable, or expressive), strengths, learning style, etc.

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Would You Have 60 Minutes of God-honoring Governance?

If you enjoy college football (I do) and you live on the West Coast (I do), then you’re probably a fan of the Football in 60 TV broadcast for the Pac-12 conference.

The promo: “It’s a no-time out, no-huddle offense—just the game in condensed form. Each week Pac-12 Networks broadcasts each of the previous week’s games, cut down to an action-packed hour. Each episode includes enhanced footage not seen in the live game broadcast. Football in 60 is the ideal football fix in a fast and furious format for the busy fan.”

This got me thinking. What if we videoed your last (perhaps tedious) board meeting that went on and on and on… And then cut it down to just one action-packed hour: 60 minutes of God-honoring governance!

Would you have 60 minutes of God-honoring governance?

What would the replay reveal?
• Holy moments when your board faced a fork-in-the-road decision with confident prayer and discernment?
• Or, a wide camera shot of opposing sides rehashing the rehash of the last meeting’s rehash of the issue that won’t go away?
• Perhaps…a board chair with wisdom and grace—moving toward the end zone, but with sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s nudges to go slower and invite every board member to participate?

Try this at your next meeting. Mention the Football in 60 concept and ask one board member to observe and take notes. Then at the end of the meeting, ask that board member to share the meeting’s highlights and lowlights. Might be interesting!

BOARDROOM ASSIGNMENT: For a helpful resource, order the new governance book by Dan Busby and yours truly, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. (Read my book summary here.) We’ve invited 40 guest bloggers (40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.) to add their color commentary to the book’s 40 short lessons. To download a sample chapter and/or order the book, visit the book’s webpage here. It’s the perfect year-end gift for every board member. Check out the bulk pricing for 10 or more copies.
Order direct from Amazon