Get the most out of your board meetings


If you’re frustrated at the end of board meetings because you feel that you’re not focusing on the right issues nor making the most of your scarce board-meeting time, perhaps the following best practices can get your board back on track.

The Right Allocation of Time

Recognizing that an organization’s board of directors has the exclusive franchise for the organization’s future, then the majority of your time should focus on the future when your board is in session.  Yet, the board is also responsible for oversight, which is not the future, but current programs and activities.  What’s a board with limited time supposed to do?Continue reading

The Case for Board Member Term Limits

 
I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong. I’ve been on the wrong side of an important association board practice for many years.

Because I had the good fortune to work with two exceptional board leaders and clients – Harry Mason with the SCSI Trade Association (STA), and Marlis Humphrey with the former Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) Forum – I saw that each organization would be denied Harry’s and Marlis’s talents as board leaders if term limits had been in effect.

Continue reading

When to Engage an External Interim Executive Director

An executive director-level change in any organization can be disruptive to staff and board members. Uncertainty looms large and with the uncertainty comes anxiety.  With anticipation and planning, such an important change doesn’t have to be painful.

Organizations with a current strategic plan can ease this transition, especially if the strategic plan includes a succession plan for the executive director.  If your organization lacks a succession plan, especially when confronted with the sudden loss of your executive director, it can be traumatic, but it doesn’t have to be.  In fact, it can be an opportunity.

Continue reading

The Complementary Roles of the Chief Executive and your Governing Board

Sometimes, even the best boards and seasoned executive directors clash and have trouble  staying in their respective “responsibility lanes” as the organization’s leadership team.  An excellent example might be when boards get directly involved with selecting and overseeing staff when they have a successful chief staff executive for such purposes.  Why might a board involve themselves in what is clearly a management responsibility?  Simply.  It’s what they are familiar with, despite the fact that it’s a responsibility they can and should delegate.

Certainly, if the working relationship between the board and executive director is noticeably broken, that situation should be addressed as soon as possible.  An outside management and governance coach is probably worth bringing in.  Even if everything is working smoothly between the board and the executive, an annual refresher can help keep the working relationships strong and the organization running smoothly for the coming year.

Continue reading

The Four Pillars of Strong Governance

Board work is like any other team endeavor:  “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships” (Michael Jordan).

Boards are teams and how they decide to engage with one another to fulfill their responsibilities determines how successful they will be.  This article is about four pillars of successful boards based on my nearly 40 years of experience supporting and serving on nonprofit governing boards.

The four pillars are offered as a framework for success, not a prescription to be applied to fix an acute problem .  It is entirely possible for two different boards to implement these four pillars different ways, but still encompass the fundamentals of each pillar as applied to their culture and situation.

Continue reading

AMC Managed Organizations Are More Stable Than Standalone Organizations – Withdrawn

In September of 2019 we published the results of a study with the title: “AMC Managed Organizations Are More Stable Than Standalone Organizations”. We are withdrawing that study because we learned of an error in our analysis. In short, there were no differences in the frequencies that standalone organizations and AMC-managed organizations change chief staff officers or their office locations.

We wish to thank Nick Bundra, COO of Management Connection, a fellow AMC in Southern California for pointing out our error.

We remain open to all review and critique of our research projects. We are motivated to present important knowledge about association management choices for membership-based organizations.

Leadership Boost for an Underperforming Organization

Challenge

The board of directors (board) of the California Association of Flower Growers & Shippers (CalFlowers) had become a management committee where the board president, a volunteer member of the board, functioned as the de facto chief staff executive (CEO is the title they use in place of executive director).  The arrangement had been in effect for about eight years.  Shortly following the 2008 to 2010 recession the association had a revenue shortfall and decided to forego hiring a CEO to manage their staff and operations.

In 2012 the association had corrected their revenue challenges and realized they could afford to hire a CEO.  In that same year they also engaged an association expert to evaluate their association and future needs.  The consultant’s assessment was somewhat grave.  He concluded that the association did not reach the thresholds for even simple adequacy in any of the 10 performance areas he used.

Continue reading

M3AAWG – Foundation for Growth

Challenge

The Messaging Malware Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group (M3AAWG) had a very uncertain future when it held its first official meeting in May 2004 in Washington, D.C.  At that first meeting were the five founding members and a number of invited guests from email service providers and their network carriers.

The founding board retained Jerry Upton as their executive director, an experienced industry executive with enough association experience to know that he needed a solid operations and headquarters base to have any chance of growing the organization.

Continue reading