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This weekend I discovered a book that was published several years ago (April 2009) that strikes me as worth a brief mention here. The book, Owning Up...14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask by Dr. Ram Charan..strikes me as worth a discussion because it poses some questions that could be helpful in framing the work of the nonprofit board.
I'm not actually that familiar with Dr. Ram Charan, a kind-of guru in the for-profit governance world but he appears to be well regarded in the business community. I know, well regarded in the for-profit sector does not instantly translate to well-regarded in the nonprofit sector but for the moment lets accept that there is some value in at least reviewing the 14 questions offered in "Owning Up".
I recommend paying particular attention to Questions 10, 6, 9, 11, 12, 1 and 13 in this order. As a matter practicality, I propose that if a board asks and answers these questions, it can go far in significantly improving board outcomes.
Here's the questions:
1. Is our Board composition right for the challenge?
2. Are we addressing the risks that could send our company over the cliff?
3. Are we prepared to do our job when crisis erupts?
4. Are we prepared to name our next CEO?
5. Does our Boar really own the company strategy?
6. How can we get the information we need to govern well?
7. How can our Board get CEO compensation right?
8. Why do we need a lead director anyway?
9. Is our governance committee best of breed?
10. How do we get the most value out of our limited time?
11. How can executive sessions help the Board own up?
12. How can our Board self-evaluation improve our functions & our output?
13. How do we stop from micromanaging?
14. How prepared are we to work with activist shareholders & their proxies?
Yes, there are other questions a nonprofit board can ask and answer but imagine just getting through at least the questions I highlighted.

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Comment by Susan Huizenga on August 26, 2015 at 6:38pm

For ease of review:

1. How do we get the most value out of our limited time?
2. How can we get the information we need to govern well?
3. Is our governance committee best of breed?
4. How can executive sessions help the Board own up?
5. How can our Board self-evaluation improve our functions & our output?
6. How do we stop from micromanaging?

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