Revisiting the HABITS of Board Governance

Adrianne DuMond

In researching the changing nature of governance by Boards of Directors, some interesting questions arise. The questions have to do with habits that a Board may have. Let’s look at three of them: 1) Committee structure, 2) Meeting time, and 3) Best use of younger Board members.

Committee structure: Often we see that Boards have committee structure around function – finance, personnel, programs, etc. Would it be more effective and/or useful to have a task force structure where committees served particular issues or challenges, and might be time limited, available to move on to another issue?

There is also the question about the Executive Committee. Does it function as a Board within a Board, thereby excluding important input from other sources?

Meeting time: Not only the schedule, but also the length of the Board meeting can help or hinder an effective meeting. To keep a Board involved and active we know meetings should be high impact and a productive use of time. Good use of technology helps this process – conference calls, emailing (especially agendas), and Go-to-meeting. So how effective is your use of meeting time and should you revisit the subject, just to check?

Best use of younger Board members: Research is showing that younger people who commit to a Board may be more interested in accomplishing the mission than in being in line for more Board leadership. They are not interested in working their way up, so to speak. I recently found this to be true when I notified a volunteer that he had worked enough hours to move from ‘provisional’ to ‘active’ and he informed me he didn’t want to be promoted, he liked it just the way it was. We struggle for the time and commitment of younger members, so it is worth taking time to understand what is important to them.

Habits may be hard to change. But it may be useful to ask if any of these habits get in the way of good governance. In today’s fast-paced environment it is important to use each Board member’s time and interest as efficiently as possible.

Author: Adrianne DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,