Board members join boards because they
care about the cause and want to make a difference. Governing for What Matters
builds upon that inspired passion as a boards single most important
With the communitys highest
aspirations front and center in a boards work, Governing for What Matters
aligns the boards accountability for the organizations means behind
the thing that matters most - accountability for leading the organization to
create a significant, visionary difference in the community.
As you can see from the preceding
installments of this article, the individual components of a boards work
do not have to change dramatically. Boards will still meet, discuss, vote,
decide. They will still plan and monitor those plans. Their role will still be
defined by their place in the organizational chart.
What does indeed change dramatically,
however, is the boards perspective - the way the board sees and thinks
about its job. From that change of perspective comes a dramatic change in
results. And that is because when we change the way we see things, things
Governance as a Celebration of What is
Governing for What Matters is all about aiming boards at our
highest possible expectations - the expectation that boards will play a vital
leadership role in shaping the future of our communities.
That simple change in thinking changes
Rather than focusing all their time and
energy on the means, to the exclusion of the end results, boards who are
Governing for What Matters expect to hold themselves accountable, first and
foremost, for leadership towards creating more significant impact in our
Rather than seeing vision and
values as touchy-feely mumbo jumbo, boards who are Governing for
What Matters are guided by vision and values as logical and realistic
guideposts. Rather than considering time to discuss our impact in the
community as a luxury they cannot afford, boards who are Governing for
What Matters know such discussions are the most important discussions they can
Rather than being continually whipsawed
by organizational circumstances, boards who are Governing for What Matters hold
themselves accountable for proactively ensuring that every aspect of the
organizations operations are healthy, to ensure they have everything they
need to create visionary community change.
When it comes to both the difference they
want to make in the community, and the difference they want to create in the
organization, boards who are Governing for What Matters focus on the future
they want to create, rather than the current-day problems they hope to solve.
Rather than governing for what could go wrong, boards who are
Governing for What Matters are governing for what is possible.
Governing for What Matters does not
accomplish any of this by telling boards what to do, because people who are
inspired do not need to be instructed in every minute detail of their work.
Inspired by their power to create significant change in their communities,
boards who are Governing for What Matters can therefore rely on simple systems
to get the job done, tethering their accountability for legal oversight,
operational oversight, and board mechanics to their primary accountability -
And so, the final point to celebrate is
that boards who are Governing for What Matters do not hide their light under a
bushel. Instead, those Community-Driven boards are excited, energized. They
take pride in being part of a board whose culture is palpable the moment you
walk in the room.
These are the boards that will
tell us, If a prospective board recruit expects us to operate like a
corporate board, we let them know right up front: Thats not us.
They are the boards who will proudly
state, We are not like boards that just push papers around. This board is
actively making a difference!
That difference is always cause for
celebration and inspiration. And it is the very heart of what it means to
Govern for What Matters Most.
This series of
articles has been adapted from The Pollyanna Principles: Why Nonprofits Have
Not Changed the World and How They Can, due for release in the fall of
2008. To be among the first to read early chapters at Hildys blog before
the book is released, subscribe to the blog