Board Error #4: Focus on the Horizon Not Your Shoelaces

Corporate Doom Flag #4 is a board focusing too close in time. If a board is making policy decisions that affect events as they are occurring, they are managing from crisis to crisis. Indeed they are not managing at all; they are reacting. There are very few choices left in crisis situations and no time to prepare alternatives or to consider implications properly. The organization is allowing someone else to call the shots and shape the destiny of the organization.

Boards fall into this behaviour if they are allowed to confuse board work (policy setting) with staff work (implementing those policies toward defined end goals). This distinction must be constantly made and enforced by both the elected and staff leadership. Many boards drift into operational work (the shoelaces) because it is easier than the hard work involved in charting a long term course for the organization. Adequately defining that organizational horizon requires a different set of KSAs on the board and usually some specialized consultant assistance.

Board level questions are: What should we become? Who should we serve? What will define success for the organization in five years? In ten years? Clear answers to these questions are required in order to set proximate concrete goals and organize resources to move the organization to that preferred future. The degree and sustainability of member and staff motivation will be directly related to their enthusiasm to achieve that preferred future.

Agreement on a preferred future will enable courageous choices at the board level and support from the members. Get those board eyes up off their shoelaces!

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