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Creative Edge Consulting


BOARD DEVELOPMENT & TRAINING

Interestingly, when we take a look at website analytics, we can tell which of our website topics (and self-penned articles) get the most traffic and what keyword searches bring people to us in the first place. The answer continues to somewhat surprise us.


Overwhelmingly, it is BOARD ISSUES—especially when it comes to Founders and their early concerns related to control (and fear of losing it), etc. This makes sense, since brand new Boards are likely to struggle at first, which is even more pronounced if proper infrastructure is lacking and expectations for Board members have never been clearly defined. Organizations that have been around for a long time are certainly not immune, either, to dysfunctional group dynamics or compromised forward movement. Indeed, bringing a group of people together for a common cause is wonderful, but, often times, it is ripe for conflict and disagreements.


CEC support of Board officers and members takes a number of forms, from “sitting in” via conference call on actual Board meetings to discuss directional issues to in-person facilitation of preliminary strategic planning retreats. Executive Coaching with Founders, Board officers, and non-profit Executive Directors almost ALWAYS involves some discussion about how the Board of Directors is currently functioning. And, when difficulties are present, we talk about strategies to diffuse interpersonal conflicts and best harness the unique talents of each member.


The majority of CEC customers come to us, initially, for grant writing services only. But, without fail, if problems exist within the organization, these will be detected by us during the assessment phase of this process. Often this prompts direct work with Boards, as they are sometimes the actual cause of the identified issues, and/or they need to actively engage in our efforts to resolve areas of concern. Most commonly, this involves fiscal matters, lack of a strategic plan beyond today (which makes it impossible to tell funders what you will be doing by the time grant money is actually awarded, and makes it less likely you will even GET funding), and things as basic as Board members not personally donating to the agency each year—which is problematic for several reasons.  

Interventions and supports needed by a particular Board of Directors can be as different as one individual is from another. Some Boards are overly-involved in the day-to-day, and manage rather than govern. Others have a hard time getting members to participate in any activities, let alone attend regularly scheduled meetings. So, Board Development is not just an issue of structures and processes for a NEW Board. It is also related to re-energizing and re-engaging an existing Board, and maximizing its effectiveness. Training and Coaching go hand-in-hand with bringing about this productive change. While not an exhaustive list, here are a few considerations when determining your organization’s Board Development and Training needs: