is so much for a new board member to learn, to come up to speed and be a fully
participating member of the board. There is mission and programs and key
players. There is finance and revenue sources.
there is all the intangible stuff that is often just as important
for getting things done. What is the boards culture? What are unwritten
parameters? Who hasnt spoken to whom in twelve
recruited that board member because you thought he/she would be an asset to the
board. Once he/she is on the board, are you providing every opportunity to hit
the ground running?
you do what most boards do: Tell them when the first board meeting is, have the
ED / staff provide some orientation, and hope they will catch on
the boards we encounter do not have a formal orientation program. Admittedly,
most of the boards we encounter do not even have an informal
orientation program! And most of the boards we encounter do not routinely
re-educate more seasoned board members, to ensure they know everything they
need to know to govern.
Ongoing Education: The Quick Route
If you think it is ok for the
people at the top of your organizational chart - the accountable leaders of the
organization - to have neither initial nor ongoing education to do that job,
then you can stop reading right now.
however, you know this is something you need, but do not know where to start,
allow 20 minutes at your next board meeting to answer these thought-starter
What do you wish you had known when you first started
on this board?
What would have saved you time and frustration had you been
told from the start?
What still confuses you?
there, it will be easy to design your orientation (and ongoing education)
programs around those topics.
downright sinful to squander the energy and passion of a brand new board member
by not providing him/her with the tools to do the job.
And that leads to
the brain teaser part of this question:
If you wouldnt ignore training
when hiring a janitor, why do you think its ok to ignore training for the
people who are accountable for everything your organization is