Wednesday, May 15, 2019

LESSON 13 – Caution! Understand the Governance Pendulum Principle

Welcome to Lessons From the Church Boardroom—The Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we'll feature a guest blogger’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Phill Martin is our guest blogger this week for the third of four lessons in "Part 4: Epiphanies in the Boardroom.”

LESSON 13 OF 40 – Caution! Understand the Governance Pendulum Principle
You have limited time to act when the pendulum oscillates in a positive direction. 

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 13, the authors note that “opportunities for substantive change only occur when a board’s pendulum oscillates in a positive direction.”

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 13, pages 71-76:
Change is not easy or automatic: 
• New board members may be the best source of discovering opportunities for change.
• A vision for governance improvement is a key to change.
• Large boards experience more difficulty implementing change. 

One of the few clocks left in my life—that requires my weekly attention to remain operational—is an old grandfather clock my dad built from a kit. My young grandson finds fascination with its swinging pendulum and chains and weights. Teaching him the importance of honoring the position and movement of the pendulum is critical for him to understand how the clock works. A pendulum at rest, or out of balance, results in the clock stopping and time standing still. 

Board pendulums have positions as well. A board whose pendulum has landed in a resting position finds change or forward movement difficult. A board whose direction has become negative can result in a downward spiral for the organization. 

However, when a board’s pendulum moves to a positive position, change and forward movement are possible. Governance improvement can happen—when church boards thoughtfully seize the opportunity to act when those fleeting time periods occur!  


Phill Martin is the CEO–Elect of The Church Network. He has been a member of the association for more than 30 years, having served twice on the board of directors before joining the staff. A native of Huntsville, Ala., Phill joined the staff of TCN in June 2000 as Director of Education. In March of 2006, he became the Deputy CEO of the association. In January of 2019, he was named CEO–Elect to become CEO in August 2019 at the retirement of current CEO Simeon May. Phill has completed 24 years of service in various ministry positions in local churches in Alabama, Georgia, and Texas.

A graduate of Samford University, where he earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree, Phill received a Master of Arts in Religious Education from Southwestern Seminary and has done post-graduate work at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Administration at Rice University.   

He is a Certified Association Executive through the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). He holds the ACC certification with International Coach Federation. He has completed church consultant training with the Center for Congregational Health in Winston-Salem, N.C., and was ordained by Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Phill is a member of the International Coaching Federation and ASAE, and has served on the board of Dallas Fort Worth Association Executives.

• Assess the current position of your board’s pendulum.
• Identify the most important changes needed in governance.
• Be ready for action when the pendulum moves to a positive direction.
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, “Lesson 13 – Caution! Understand the Governance Pendulum Principle.”


On May 22, 2019, watch for the commentary by Steve Stroope on Lesson 14, "Be Intentional About Your First 30 Minutes. Does your board meeting need a refresh—so you experience holy moments more frequently?”


BULK ORDERS: Click here.  For more resources and to download the book's Table of Contents, visit the book's webpage.

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