Board Bites

3 April 2014 By Richard Dent OAM, FAICD

Welcome to the first in our series of Board Bites: a three-minute thought starter about barriers, challenges, tips and successes for NFP boards and board members.

This Board Bite is by Richard Dent, Chief Executive of Leadership Victoria and specialist presenter on "Strategy" at our Board Leadership Programs:

Connecting to Vision



Too often, Board meetings become an endless series of reports and compliance, perhaps a presentation by staff or volunteers, a review of finances (donors, grants), and then “that was a good meeting”. This is all good work, but it’s like driving a car by looking in the rear-view mirror.

In fact, the Board's relentless role has to be to connect current activities to the organisation’s vision. Every discussion, every decision, has to link up to the “light on the hill”: the very purpose for which the organisation exists – and probably the reason why board members joined in the first place. Reports should be shaped in terms of progress towards realising that vision: steps towards each strategic goal that makes it one step closer.

Meanwhile, compliance is a necessity: spend the necessary time on it, but the Board should always ask: what are we learning which we can apply to our strategy? And the financials should be how well you are using your financial resources so that you decide what you can do next (or need to do next). Yes your financials need attention (you can’t get golden eggs if you don’t feed the goose), but the vision of your organisation is a better world, not better financials.

If you asked at your next board meeting: “What matters most to our board?”, what would the answer be?

Only by connecting to the vision will the Board and staff start to look to the future. And by always looking to a better future, you’re helping create it.

Richard Dent OAM, FAICD, is Chief Executive of Leadership Victoria and has extensive experience over more than 20 years in NFP governance.

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