Board-staff partnerships

Nonprofit Board/Staff Relationships: An Uncomfortable Partnership?

 

Nonprofit Board/Staff Relationships: An Uncomfortable Partnership?

By: Eugene Fram   Free Digital Image

Viewer Favorite—Updated and Revised

I have always been of the opinion that nonprofit directors don’t give sufficient consideration to the relationships between the board and staff. The following passage reasserts the complexity of such relationships and why misunderstandings might occur on either side of the fence.

The (nonprofit) governance model is … confounded by the fact that the people with responsibility for oversight, resource generation, and the strategic direction are not the same people who show up every day to deliver the work that fulfills the nonprofit’s mission. …. More often than not, however, the nonprofit board is a bit ungainly and leaves board members and staff alike scratching their heads and wondering how they might fix things so it (the organization) does what it’s meant to do … The challenges are often the greatest for the boards of small to mid-sized nonprofits, where the lines between governance and management seem to be more easily blurred. * (more…)

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Who is Primarily Accountable for Long Term Planning – Board or CEO?

Who is Primarily Accountable for Long Term Planning – Board or CEO?

By: Eugene Fram

THE QUESTION

 Can you further clarify whom you see as accountable for making what decisions in relation to the various aspects of corporate strategy creation and execution? If the board approves the CEO’s decisions do they not become board decisions? Where is the scope for the CEO to be accountable for making his or her own decisions?

MY ANSWER
“(My model)… promotes accountability. It requires the board and the CEO to work together to paint the big picture for the organization. It then holds the CEO accountable for implementing that vision. The (board’s) planning and resource committee (also) plays a major part in painting this picture by helping the organization and the CEO to look ahead to look to the future.” <!–more–>

Now for some details also found in “Policy vs. Paper Clips. *  (http://amzn.to/eu7nQl)

The CEO is asked, in addition to heading operations, to be looking ahead in the organization’s mission focused field. This is very important where the board is largely an eclectic group of volunteers. The CEO should be thinking about these issues 24/7 and bringing what S/he considers the important ones to the board’s planning and resource committee, from which the board has a process for selecting those that have potential for further study by a board-staff ad hoc committee or task force. Where the board is composed of field professionals, like the Associated Press, the CEO still has an obligation to be on the frontiers of field changes and opportunities, obviously very important to the AP.

* Board members from all backgrounds have an obligation to bring GENERATIVE, out-of-the-box, thinking to the board. Where this often falls short with nonprofit boards is that many attempt to acculturate directors to the culture of the organization, instead of being open to the person’s expertise and culture. For example, if a director has expertise in financial planning, nonprofits often will ask the director to be involved with immediate accounting issues, instead of expanding the organization’s financial outlook.

Many of these field insights are covered in my blog site, now numbering a selection of over 100 current blogs. http://bit.ly/yfRZpz

See previous blog:  Differences: Nonprofit Board Board Policy/Strategy Development vs. Management Operations

*PS: Recent Comment on the Model

Our Board applied the principles in Policy Vs. Paper Clips after the first edition came out many years ago. We were fortunate to have the author himself consult with us. I can unequivocally state that the Corporate model spelled out in this book works and is responsible for the incredible growth and success my not for profit has experienced over the last 15 years. More importantly the Board members love it because they are engaged at a strategic level that allows them to use their brains and contribute in a meaningful way. Every not for profit CEO and Board member should read this book regardless of size or scope of the organization. Its how Boards need to work in the 21st century.