For anyone who’s part of a governing board for an organization started a generation or more ago, this is the book for you. The authors give expression to the obvious: organizations which have huge representative boards to please a broad client base with an untenable menu of services, will be passed up by nimble, focused organizations giving high-quality services to a specific membership profile.
The solutions offered in the book include:
- Start with governance: any decision-making board with over 5-7 members sacrifices decision-making effectiveness for an illusion of being “representative.” Associations should quickly drop their unwieldy, inefficient, and expensive large governing boards.
- Overhaul committees: committees should be few, focused, and led by staff rather than volunteers who spend massive hours creating recommendations unconnected from those immersed in the day-to-day life of the organization: the staff.
- Empower CEO and enhance staff: The staff should be carefully selected and then fully empowered to move the organization forward based on the vision and guidance of the governing board. They should not be micro-managed by the board.
- Rationalize Member Market: This one recognizes that availability of wide-spread communication today requires specialization. Organizations need to narrow, not broaden, their membership criteria so that they can better serve the members they have.
- Rationalize Programs Services and Activities: Instead of adding a long menu of low-impact services for members, associations should offer a narrow list of “home run” services members can’t live without.
- Bridge the Technology Gap: Instead of worrying about the least innovative members, associations should invest heavily into using technology to attract and service the most creative and valuable members of their membership.