Nonprofit Board Cultures Need To Be Defined
By: Eugene Fram Free Digital Image
Over several decades of contacts with nonprofit boards, I have yet to find one that has spent any time trying to define the organization’s culture that delivers service. Yet every organization has one. It defines what the organization has done well and what needs to be changed. It can grow over years haphazardly or change quickly when new board members are elected or when a new CEO is appointed. Those newly appointed, for better or worse, can change the organization’s mission as well as its culture. Nonprofit staffs that work a few levels below the board and CEO organizationally are especially sensitive to cultural movements emanating from above. They know that a change in culture can affect their work and livelihood.
The reason that nonprofit boards rarely try to define the cultures of their organizations is that it is an amorphous subject. Ask a group of directors to define the culture of their board or the organization and quite different answers will be given. Yet there are commonalities that arise that can form the culture—conservative vs. liberal policies; legacy vs. future focused programs; operations are clearly defined vs. CEO dominance assumes board powers in a de facto manner; etc. But cultures need to be defined: Uber failed in the process, while Microsoft has an ambition to transform Microsoft from “a know it all” to a “learn it all culture” *
I recently found a list of 12 attributes of a strong organizational culture. ** Following are six that I suggest that nonprofit boards should consider in assessing their needs of the organizations. My comments provide some practical ways that each can apply to nonprofit boards and organizations. (more…)