The holiday season reminds us of all the reasons we love to give and receive. It all begins right after Thanksgiving, with the Black Friday sales beginning at midnight, followed by tons of sales for online shoppers on Cyber Monday.…
In the U.S., there are over 1.5 million not-for-profit corporations. Within this group, there are many different designations of nonprofit – determined by the IRS through its tax-exempt rulings. Beyond the basic IRS distinction, each type of nonprofit entity has…
If your healthcare CEO left tomorrow, would your board of directors know exactly what to do? If you’re lucky, your CEO will stay in that position for about three or four years. But, the data shows that when a CEO…
Last week a prospective client asked us how BoardEffect users typically measure organizational cost savings from using our product. This is a relatively common question, which isn’t surprising given that virtually all organizations today operate with budget constraints. But this frequent and seemingly simple request implies a range of related questions centered around calculating Return on Investment (ROI). In an effort to address this question completely but concisely, I’ve broken this into a two-part response. The first post articulates a way to think about and justify the general cost of implementing a board portal versus the most common, “free” alternatives. This second post offers a framework for comparing the cost of commercial off-the-shelf software versus the prospect of making a larger investment to build one’s own custom board portal solution.
Last week a prospective client asked us how BoardEffect users typically measure organizational cost savings from using our product. This is a relatively common question, which isn’t surprising given that virtually all organizations today operate with budget constraints. But this frequent and seemingly simple request implies a range of related questions centered around calculating Return on Investment (ROI). In an effort to address this question completely but concisely, I’ve broken this into a two-part response. This first post articulates a way to think about and justify the general cost of implementing a board portal versus the most common alternatives. The ensuing second post will offer a framework for comparing the cost of commercial off-the-shelf software versus building one’s own custom board portal solution.
Relevant, accessible, and easy to implement — that’s what I thought in April when I heard Jennifer Mulholland and Jeff Shuck from Plenty Consulting talk about their company’s model of organizational strategy. The tool they presented is being used to help organizations of all sizes get aligned — and their approach might carry some insights you can use in yours. Below are excerpts from our interview in which you can learn more about the model and how you can put it to use in your organization.
You have to hand it to Goldilocks. In addition to fearlessly entering ferocious bears’ dens, this young lady knew precisely what she liked. When it came to bowls of porridge (neither too hot, nor cold), easy-chairs (neither too hard, nor soft), and preferences in bedding (neither too high, nor low), Goldilocks was unwavering in what captured her interest and kept her engaged. We believe board members can be a lot like Goldilocks: even when orienting themselves within unfamiliar surroundings, board members intuitively know what they find valuable the moment they see it. With this in mind, governance professionals can benefit greatly by following the “Goldilocks Rule” when it comes to providing board orientation packets for new board members.
Comparing different board portal vendors to ultimately make a selection is serious business. After all, the chosen board management software needs to support the always high-stakes, often confidential, and sometimes controversial work of your organization’s governing body…usually for many years to come. A thoughtful, rigorous board portal comparison is key to ensuring the selection of a board portal vendor and product that stand the test of time. Thankfully, a number of valuable resources, like this one from Great Boards, the Board Portal Buyer’s Guide or this one from Gartner, have been developed over the years to assist in that process. Even these, though, become dated or can be prohibitively costly to access, leaving organizations to manage these board portal comparisons largely on their own.
Working with the boards of more than 1,400 organizations, BoardEffect frequently participates in such evaluations and implementations; and we provide a range of resources in an effort to demystify the process. We also field a lot of information requests from organizations engaged in these initiatives. Many of these questions facilitate sound, informed decision-making. But a number of them are not as helpful. Some may even diminish the effectiveness of evaluations by camouflaging the most material issues or oversimplifying complex, far-reaching topics. Below are five of our least favorite questions about board portal technology, along with tips for how to replace them with more incisive questions that lead to deeply informed decisions.
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop presented by Susan Howlett, a private nonprofit consultant based in Seattle, where she summarized the main points raised in her book, “Boards on Fire! Inspiring Leaders to Raise Money Joyfully.” One strategy Susan suggested was how to design the agenda of what I have since come to think of the Greatest Board Meeting – Ever. In other words, she answered the question, “How might you facilitate board meetings in such a way that directors are willing to cut their vacations short to attend?” Susan’s template for great board meetings could be adapted for just about any kind of board and in almost any organizational context – nonprofit, for-profit, large, small, traditional, or progressive. The focus is on “creating board meetings that elicit strategic leadership,” and her formula is simple, practical, and actionable – it doesn’t require a retreat to implement, nor a special task force committee to spearhead it – you could just start using it at your next meeting.
Over the weeks since I attended her session (and have since purchased copies of her book for all the members of the board I serve on), one thought has stayed with me – not only is her strategy a sound one, but it’s striking how well board portal software like BoardEffect can align with her strategy to extend the reach of a single terrific meeting, to an ongoing amazing experience for board members.
So, with major kudos to Susan for her keen and practical insights, I’m pleased to share her suggested formula for the Greatest Board Meeting Agenda Ever, along with my take on how board portal software could support and enhance the process.
Does technology make Executive Committees better…or potentially make them unnecessary? The answer: yes. Last month, a session on “Transformational Governance” led by author and governance guru Katha Kissman at the BoardSource Leadership Forum, New Orleans, prompted discussion on the purpose…