Monday, March 29, 2010

The Imperfect Board Member

Today I enjoyed a relaxing day at home. While it was cool and gloomy outside, I kept myself warm with some delicious white truffle rooibos tea, and occupied by reading the book "The Imperfect Board Member" by Jim Brown.  Initially, I thought it might be better to drown my body in coffee, thinking that the book would bore me to sleep and the caffeine may help to push me through to the end.  Surprisingly, the book was delightfully engaging, a quick 200 page read that I finished in a matter of hours.  Written as a narrative, with sage advice and proven principals comprising the meat of the material, this is a book that I would recommend to every person who works within an organization, church or company that has Board style governance.  Whether you be the CEO, Executive Director, Board member or even staff, Jim Brown's book offers invaluable insight.

As I do with most everything I read, I create a cornucopia of colour in my books. As interesting and poignant statements catch my attention, I stroke the little nuggets of wisdom with a highlighter for quick future reference. The rest of this post will be a quick summary of the pretty little pink lines you would come across if you read my copy of "The Imperfect Board Member", some of them are poignant and others just caused some personal reflection or left me laughing. I've bolded some of my favourites.

If I was to summarize the content of this book it would be encapsulated in this sentence:
To DIRECT and PROTECT the board must CONNECT - EXPECT - CORRECT and with regard to the CEO the board must SELECT - INSPECT - REDIRECT and if necessary - EJECT

** "He snapped on his positive, professional countenance- the one he had mastered after his
    MBA course on pubic relations, in which he learned to "always be sincere, even if you 
    have to fake it""
** "I'm just creating an environment for her to be her best. I view tips differently than many
    people do.  I like to use them to inspire premium service.  Why wait until it is too late to give
    her a message about her performance?"
** "Sometimes the best way for me to support you will be for me to disagree"
** Owners - Board - CEO - Staff - Customers -- "When the straight lines of communication,
    authority, and accountability get broken, confusion and chaos result"
** "President Lincoln wisely judged that 'it never does a boy much good to shoot him"
** "Hope is a choice.  Add to it perseverance and that's what changes the world"
** "Sometimes we inadvertently reward the behaviour we don't want and fail to reward 
    the behaviour we desire"
** "Sometimes a majority only means that all fools are on the same side"
** "When you're in the depths of despair, things appear dark in every direction.  But 
    when you raise your head out of the pit, you get a totally different experience"
** "Boards don't need to hear about how busy the CEO is -- they need to hear about results"
** "The only way a board can responsibly to it's job without medling is by monitoring well"
** "The best boards keep their noses in the business and their fingers out"
** "What you should know by now is that I don't just tell you my thoughts - I expect you to think"
** "It's amazing how uncommon common sense is these days"
** "Monitoring the results the CEO has achieved compared to the plans and policies set by the
    board is how the board fulfills the responsibility to INSPECT"
** "The board's position is not management one step up, it's ownership one step down."
** "An example of good use of board inspection is interviewing several staff members 
    to assess how closely the organization is following the board set values."
** "Tie as much of the compensation as possible to performance.  Despite what Woody Allen
    said, merely showing up for work is not enough"
** "Winston Churchill's response when a friend asked if he was impressed that ten 
    thousand people had come to hear him speak: "Not really.  A hundred thousand 
    people would come to see me hang""
** "Every director [board member] has a significant investment in the business.  We insist on
    that because we believe that board members must feel the impact of their decisions and their
    leadership as much as any other shareholder"
** "Feedback is the breakfast of champions"

No comments:

Post a Comment