Wednesday, June 19, 2019

LESSON 18 – Never Throw Red Meat on the Board Table

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. Jon Grano is our guest blogger this week for the second of five lessons in "Part 6: Boardroom Time-Wasters, Trouble-Makers, and Truth-Tellers.”

LESSON 18 OF 40 – Never Throw Red Meat on the Board Table
Boards need advance preparation to fully address complex issues.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 18, the authors note that adequate advance preparation of a board meeting’s agenda and anticipated resolutions is essential for effective and efficient board governance. For complex issues especially, advance preparation honors the board’s use of time, helps ensure issues are more likely to be thought through and considered from multiple perspectives, and guards against final motions that aren’t as robust or forward-looking as they might have been.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 18, pages 98-102:
This chapter provides valuable rationale for the advantages of advance preparation. Favorite quotes: 
• “Without adequate advance preparation to fully address an issue, boards tend to function as committees of the whole, often resorting to painfully circuitous discussion. It can result in floating a resolution only to have it amended multiple times while the boardroom clock continues to tick, tick, tick.”
• “Shoot for the ‘no surprises’ standard… This will allow for content to be delivered in such a manner that the discernment process begins early. Let the board know in advance what decisions are required so they are prepared to make wise ones.”
• “Red meat is raw meat. The meat you serve your board should be well done…in advance!” 

Adequate advance preparation can be seen as a corporate application of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” In the same way we prefer not to be surprised with complex proposals that have not been carefully vetted, we can honor and serve our board colleagues by presenting them with resolutions in which we’ve taken the time to think through issues and implications ahead of time, in order to foster better board decision-making.

Advance preparation can also help focus resolutions on the core issues involved, and guard against getting sidetracked on peripheral issues.  

Proverbs 15:22 states, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Church boards exist to provide the “many advisers” needed for successful leadership. Board members are better able to serve as effective advisers and wise counselors when they receive well-developed resolutions from their colleagues prior to the start of each meeting. 


JON GRANO is Lead Pastor for Operations at Bethlehem Baptist Church, a multi-campus church in the Minneapolis area whose aim is to “spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples, through Jesus Christ.”

Jon and his wife, Pam, have been actively involved in ministry at Bethlehem for nearly four decades, first non-vocationally while employed as a software developer and project leader, and since 2006 on the pastoral staff. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.

• Review your procedure and timeline for distributing board agendas and proposed resolutions prior to the start of scheduled board meetings, to ensure adequate time is allowed for reflective thought and prayer.
• Consider creating a secure shared repository of past meeting minutes, with all associated referenced documents, as an archive to provide context for future board decisions and background details for new board members.
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 18, “Never Throw Red Meat on the Board Table.” 
• Inspire your board members to enrich their governance competencies at the ECFA Governance in Excellence Forums (eight cities, Fall 2019). 

On June 26, 2019, watch for the commentary by Paul Willis on Lesson 19, “Alert! The ER Factor Causes Value Extraction. Beware of the ER Factor in the boardroom—ego and rivalry.”


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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