At NXTBoard, we know excellent governance is characterized by relentless, steady focus on a few goals and dedication to their momentum. When these 2-4 focus goals are the focus of a board, everyone else’s attention becomes refocused here and a cadence emerges. Anything less and a board is attempting to govern shifting winds and will either burn out or put the miss in mission.



Boards of directors usually face the following Governance challenges

Roles and Responsibilities Imbalanced

Governance is a diligent, focused sweet spot between two extremes. On the one end is micromanagement, where the board is involved in the color of the paint, the details of the football field, and directly interferes with staff. On the other end is rubber stamping, where board members have almost no impact on the outcomes of the organization and no hard metrics by which to evaluate the superintendent.

Constantly at Square 1: “What’s going on?”

 Governance is a part-time job for most people. It’s all too common that a board just looks at whatever shiny reports the superintendent (or executive director) is waving this week, with no organizational memory. It’s recency bias at its finest. Great boards remember what they set out to accomplish two years ago and keep the momentum by driving the same focused criteria all the time, every time.

Board Members Get Distracted by Squeaky Wheels

Whether helicopter parents, image concerns from real or fake social media crises, politics between board members, or that angry loud person who shows up to every board meeting, secondary issues tend to dominate governance discussions. 


Board Turnover is Too Disruptive

Imagine trying to play a football game where your wide receivers and quarterback are subbed willy nilly between each play by random players who have never been on the team. Boards have multiple plays in progress and must find a way for organizational memory to outlast any board member or executive (hint: by s



Organizing for success means leadership, admin staff, stakeholders, board members, and committees are structured to enable teamwork, fulfillment of objectives, and the freedom to make decisions within constraints. Too often a board goes beyond its direction and constraint-setting role, or throws “everyone” at the same problem.

Stakeholders Aren’t Involved the Right Way

Part of the board’s job is to ensure that leaders who value input transparently share information and get the right feedback from the community. We imagine a world where empowered communities have the leadership they deserve. All too often, the hurdles for the average community member to participate requires too much effort, so only the fringe stakeholders are heard.


P.S. There is no “Governance 102” – a board’s courage to focus on key items is the start and end to this story. It’s easier said than done. We hope to inspire, inform, and educate on governance.