Friday, February 04, 2005

Boards that think, plan and act strategically

So how do we nurture board leadership that will think, plan and act strategically? By creating a long-range plan for the development of such board leaders. In contrast to the typical short-term recruitment process that focuses narrowly on filling anticipated nonprofit board vacancies for the current year only, boards need a long-range plan for developing future-focused leadership. Such a long-term leadership development plan centers on the following questions: Who will be serving on and leading the board over the next three years? What is our plan to scout board leadership talent for the future? How will we go about fostering and developing future board leadership? Key elements of this approach include:
· Replace the nominations committee with a board development committee. This committee will use the key questions listed above to devise an ongoing process that includes prospecting, recruiting, selecting, orienting and training, and performance assessment of board directors.
· Link board development to your strategic plan. Identify the new skills, knowledge, personal contacts, and other attributes future board directors will need to possess in order for the board to do its part in advancing the strategic plan. Based on this analysis, develop targeted board recruiting priorities.
· Develop a written board director job description that reflects the future needs and expectations of the board.
· Direct the executive committee to design board meeting agendas that focus attention on the ultimate ends of the organization and monitoring progress in implementing the strategic plan.
· Conduct an annual evaluation of the board that focuses, in part, on how well the board is maintaining a strategic focus.
· Develop a just-in-time board orientation program to speed up the learning curve for new board directors so that they can hit the ground running in their first meeting. Again, it is important to link this advance program of orientation and training to the strategic plan.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Who's going to implement the plan?

An article from the McKinsey Quarterly, January 2005, “Leadership As The Starting Point Of Strategy” reminds us of the importance of leadership in strategic planning. Here’s the abstract: “Companies that overlook the role of leadership in the early phases of strategic planning often find themselves scrambling when it's time to execute. No matter how thorough the plan, without the right leaders it is unlikely to succeed. … Executives must consider their leadership pool as they shape strategy and align their leadership-development programs with long-term aspirations.” And in nonprofits, this includes board leadership as well.