Board Governance and Training

What makes a good board?

Ask 100 boards “what makes a good board?” – and it’s a good bet you will get 100 different answers. There have been studies for decades on why boards fail, and the results remain elusive. Failing boards reveal no broad pattern of incompetence, corruption, or lack of good governance. In fact, failing boards have been shown to have followed most of the accepted standards for good board operations, including sound policies for attendance, conflict-of-interest, committee work, size, structure, code-of-ethics, and board make-up.

When boards struggle, there is no shortage of governance experts ready to swoop in with the sure cure. The problem is that most of the remedies offered are structural: concerned with better rules, procedures, and structure.

The hard truth is that boards are inherently difficult governing bodies.

Their success depends on a group of people working well together to make good decisions. The rules and policies and procedures that contribute to good governance are important – but insufficient. The quality of a board is fundamentally rooted in the quality of the social system the people serving on the board have created.

Our team has strong expertise in governance models, policy formation, and procedural best practices – and we help dozens of boards improve their performance every year. But, in our 25 years of experience in governance and board performance, we have yet to see a struggling board create rules, policies and procedures good enough to solve the bad behaviors that inevitably permeate a toxic social system.

Great boards invest in fostering great bonds – shared values, common goals, strong commitment.

Great boards demonstrate high trust among members – healthy debate, deep listening, integrity.

Great boards embrace their role as a governing body – and as protectors of organizational culture.

Are you ready to transform your board?

We know every board has unique needs. We can help.