99% of the challenges faced by boards can be resolved in the following three ways:
1. Using a holistic system to govern.
2. Having effective decision-making methods.
3. Being physically and emotionally healthy.
Without a logical governance system, boards and managers can easily lose effectiveness and get off-track. The most common symptoms of board dysfunction include lack of role clarity, duplication of effort, boards approving decisions already made (a.k.a. “approval syndrome”), and misalignment between the wishes of owners and the results produced.
A Little Less Conversation
Once a holistic system like Policy Governance is in place, boards can still struggle with the decision-making process. At board meetings, for example, does every board member get a chance to speak on every issue? For how long? How can directors share a wide variety of views, and end up with the best possible decision?
Boards are essentially decision-making bodies, and while thinking through and weighing all the options is key, sometimes boards can get seduced into thinking too much — and deciding too little. Incorporating group facilitation design to meetings can help boards progress with confidence from thinking to deciding, and solve the problem of “trying to think but nothing happens.”
Lastly, the physical and emotional health of board members seems like an obvious pre-condition for governance effectiveness, but one that is not often included in “How To Be An Effective Board” lists. The point is simply that governance is not easy, and so like with any other challenge, board members must be up to the task.
To think clearly, to make good on commitments, to prepare for and show up for meetings, and to get along with each other means directors must have energy, stamina, and a sense well-being. Feeling good, refreshed and calm enables board members to rise above personal ego for the good of the group.
Have you ever seen a board “trying to think but nothing happens”? What was the underlying problem?
See also: Meeting Helpers: How to Interject…Without Interrupting