What We Believe.
A Model For Excellence
Richard Chait, William Ryan, and Barbara Taylor introduced a framework for governance excellence in the 2005 book Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards by describing three ways of thinking in the boardroom: fiduciary, strategic and generative. Learn more here.
We believe that the best nonprofit boards:
- Should be a strategic asset to the organizations they serve
- Understand what it means to truly partner in leadership with the CEO and the senior staff
- Are not complacent or smug about their own performance
- Act as a pro bono think tank with management
- Place organizational mission and interests ahead of personal agendas and self-interest
- Accept, with the CEO, ownership of problems and decisions
- Pay attention to board culture with an eye to teamwork so that conditions exist for success
- Are structured to reflect strategic priorities.
- Build a strong board team through careful cultivation and onboarding of new board members
We believe that very few boards operate at peak performance.
In fact, when board members are asked about a time when their board was at its best, they often answer, “In a crisis.” Why? Because:
- There was a higher purpose—what happened around the board table actually mattered.
- The board was focused on meaningful work.
- Board members asked questions and sought answers through a team process to discern, deliberate, and solve an important problem.
- Egos, personal agendas, complacency, and smugness dissolved.
We believe that most nonprofit boards are more efficient than effective.
- They meet periodically, and may not be in sync with critical events at the organization.
- They are comprised of busy volunteers from a variety of backgrounds with different motivations, propensities, and patience.
- Often, they are part-time amateurs overseeing the work of full-time professionals; governance is not their “day job.”
- They have limited information and time available to think about and work on the complex issues the organization faces.