But I’m a board member! Avoiding governance confusion in associations and NFP’s

20121021-133406.jpgMany association and NFP boards that I’ve interacted with have a degree of confusion around their governance. In this post, I’d like to address just one of the causes of confusion (we’ll talk about others later) which is the significant blurring that occurs when organisations rely on their board to be governors as well as an expert functional workforce. You can’t afford to be a muppet in today’s governance environment.

This phenomenon is more pronounced in small associations but I’ve seen and heard examples of it in larger organisations as well. It occurs more frequently in associations as the members have skills and knowledge that are invaluable to the association, and we get great outcomes when we work together. The problem is that the board are often the most accessible, willing and engaged members so they will frequently agree to do things on the fly. This includes functional tasks like:
– providing copy for consumer promotions
– writing guidelines and manuals
– chairing conferences and events
– chairing ad hoc working committees (as distinct from oversight committees)

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