Trustees Should be Wired to Govern

Wired to GovernI recently co authored a publication, Wired to Govern with 2 senior colleagues. It was birthed as our attempt to craft a strategic framework that incorporates social media and new technologies. Exploring opportunities, threats presented, the potential of governance as well as some legal and good governance guidance, Wired to Govern outlines best practice guidelines, templates and checklists. You can also see an analysis of how the Code of Good Governance is interpreted against digital responsibilities.

Download chapter 1 here. To get the full publication, click here.  Let us know what you think!

Engaging the Board – Making the Most of New Technologies

Technology and boardsReviewing new technology tools enables boards to be more committed to using their time and talent to the greatest extent. In the past boards were not very comfortable with technology. Some of us remember when note cards and baskets were used for collecting polls & handwritten notes for creating spreadsheets for proposals. This was time consuming and sometimes confusing. A solution for this was turning point from turning technologies. Technology enabled management to easily manage the process and significantly reduced time spent collecting the data and compiling. Attendees were able to respond in real time using mobile phone keypads that were able to tally participants information and tally the outcome onscreen. It was an ideal solution enabling boards to consolidate and streamline proposals and processes.

Exploring new ways to produce profitable outcome can be significant in the nonprofit sector where there is no substitute for money saved while minimising human time and talent. Here are some suggestions:

Part 1 – Some 21st century Tools

Social media is a great way of boards connecting with the community. Sometimes simply sharing an image on Facebook with a quote can reach tens of thousands of people. A picture may be worth more than words.  This is easy to do with phenomenal outcomes – letting nonprofits reach underserved regions by integrating and operationalizing technology.

Facebook can be used for recruiting volunteers as well as sharing about upcoming events, planning with colleagues in other nonprofits and networking. It can be very beneficial in the long run. Postings and having members post pictures, holding contests, generating interesting content and engage with the community are all pluses. Developing online relationships with your community through sharing of relevant content can be beneficial to non-profits.

Blog on specific topics – invite members of the non-profit who are experts in specific areas  to blog about it and have them post weekly , biweekly or monthly. Make the blog interactive – with a comments section. Everyone has an opinion so ask a question to get people involved and talking. You’d be amazed what comments you will get. Having blogs where members can share either observations, innovations and more can be imperative in the growth to organizations. Get to understand your audience and give them  – from the information gathered from their  comments – what they want.

Using  eBooks  as a means of getting the community involved can be an additional resource while an  ecommerce membership website; where people can login, buy things  and interact with each other  may be yet another way to get the community involved.

Look out for Part 2 of this series on Engaging the Boards  through Technology  – coming soon.

Latest Governance Survey shines the Spotlight on Board Practices.

Governing with IntentAfter 18 months of sweat and late nights, I am pleased to say that Governing with Intent: An enquiry into trustee board effectiveness is now on the shelf.   The following observations have interested me:

1.     Boards that are effective tend to have effective Chairs who are able to facilitate difficult situations, resolve conflict and demonstrate leadership when the going gets tough.  This goes far beyond the tradition role of chairing meetings.

2.     Chief Executives play a vital role in strengthening the effectiveness of the board.   They tend to lead governance renewal efforts, but our survey tells us they would rather the board was at the helm of board development.

3.     Boards are more likely to evaluate the performance of the Chief Executive rather than reflect on their own performance.  Our recommendation for improving Governance is that Board effectiveness and Chair effectiveness processes should step on and role model reflective practices for the rest of the organisation.

4.     Boards tend to micro manage rather than macro govern.  In today’s environment this has to change.  Effective governance is about looking outwards as much as looking inward.  The introspective gaze will not enable an organisation to maintain sustainability in this competitive and ever changing new normal.

5.     Membership organisations need more governance resourcing.  Usually board members come through a democratic process.  To increase accountability board members need to be carrying out the right roles and the right time in the right organisation.

6.     Effective organisations are paying attention to repairing and healing their relationships when things go wrong.  We heard that trust and confidence is an absolute must for healthy governance.  Conflict resolution is being seen as a vital tool in the governance toolkit.


To download your copy visit: http://www.on-board.org/governing-with-intent/

7 Questions For Shaping an Innovative Governance Agenda

innovative governance agendaimprovementsAre you dreaming of a different direction or a mixture of what you usually do and something quite new? Innovation Governance comes to mind. I am reminded of the words of Ellen DeGeneres.

“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important”.

Some of the biggest challenges as you consider doing something different is to have the right people in place, with the right attitude, doing the right things.   Even more challenging is having a top notch governing board in place which offers sufficient challenge to provoke top level thinking but high quality creativity to consider the vast range of possibilities to make things happen.   The 7 questions below can help scope the innovation governance agenda.

1.    Is each individual clear about his/her role and how it fuses with the rest of the        team?
2.    What risks  are ready to bear to meet your goals?
3.    How can you integrate your values and beliefs into your innovation?
4.    With whom should you innovate (alliances, peers,  collaborations, partnerships)?
5.    What resources  do you need to commit to implement necessary innovation?
6.    How can you communicate effectively within and outside the organisation?
7.    What are your benchmarks for success?

Please let me know how you get on. Good luck!

Servant Leadership a Platform for Effective Leadership

Rev Jerry W Paul

Servant leadership is so impactful, yet many people think of leadership as a means of control and exercising power, sometimes in inappropriate ways.   Power used in the wrong way is very destructive, people are bullied, there is a culture of fear and guilt.   In the short term,  things may appear to be working, but over time, the decay and decline sets in.

I would like to dedicate this blog to my colleague and dear friend Rev Jerry W Paul – Founder of the Deaconess Foundation. Jerry practiced servant leadership.   He was my mentor, teacher and coach.   Jerry had a deep thirst for learning and continuous development and encouraged that in me.   There is a book for everything and Jerry had a way of finding the book that I needed for my teachable moments.

It was Jerry who supported me as I set up my first leadership consultancy trip in the States  after I went freelance in 2005.  He  guided me in how to use learning from the field to enhance organisations and the individuals within them.  Jerry was larger than life.  His sense of humour was second to none.  There was never a dull moment when this really smart and humble man was in a room.   Sadly Jerry left the shores of this world last week.  Much too early in my opinion.   He shall be missed by his family, friends and colleagues.   Jerry was unique.   He was larger than life and he has left a deep hole behind.

For me, I shall cling onto his legacy.   He was a great leader, kind, caring, nurturing, intelligent, wise, smart and compassionate.   With his gentle personality and presence he touched many lives and empowered many organisations.  I am so thankful I got to meet this amazing man.

I thank another dear   friend, Carol Weisman for introducing me to Jerry many years ago.    A man who inspired, guided and supported.  He will not be forgotten.

Lessons on Leadership – learning from the Ebola Crisis

Tesse AkpekiWhen the Ebola epidemic broke out in West Africa, a man tried to enter Nigeria for  treatment. He was held at the International airport by a leading doctor and her colleague. The gentleman was never allowed into Lagos. Their action saved millions of lives. In densely populated Lagos, millions of people could have died.

The act of the woman doctor and her colleague cost them their lives. Her son said his mother knew what the risks were and she was prepared to die for the greater good of mankind. If this is not authentic leadership what was is? This was about decisive action, swift controls, firmness, commitment to a vision (of saving lives), a clear path forward and cultural change. The Nigerian Government swung into action and eradicated Ebola from its shores.

Behaviours changed leading to a different outcome. The path of leadership can be lonely, but these heroes leave a legacy behind which outlives the years they walked on this earth.

Sweet Homecoming

Tesse Akpeki

Tesse in Belfast. Sweet Homecoming

Though born in London, I grew up in Belfast.  We spent holidays in Atrium and also the Republic of Ireland.  This year I decided to go back to Ireland to race my roots.  I did not quite know what to expect.   Having grown up in care, growing up was a mixed experience.   A ‘who do you think you are’ experience can have very different outcomes, but you never know until you try.     It was so therapeutic.   It was definitely a worthwhile homecoming.

Nature or nurture?  I think it is both. Belfast and Donegal really reached me in a deep place.   As I connected with my childlike experience, there was a lot of healing going on.    When I work with organisations or groups, I encourage them to go back.  Going back to the beginning can help organisations and groups to be more aware of what makes them tick and be clear about their identity.  It reignites passion and the memories that can help the organisation, the staff, the volunteers and the supporters to connect when things get tough.  Returning to the beginning is not a luxury, it is a necessity, which can be energising, reinvigorating, strengthening and motivating.

Finding a shared understanding in building the Chair and Chief Executive

A Golden Journey: Finding a Shared Understanding in Building the Chair & Chief Executive – 10 Questions to Ask

Chair and Chief Executive improvementsThe Chief Executive may find it helpful to reflect on the following questions:

1.  How satisfied are you that the Chair understands her responsibility for leading the board effectively?

2.  How satisfied are you that the Chair actively leads the evolution of the board in relation to its composition, competencies, relationships to meet current and future challenges.

3.  How satisfied are you that you have a good working relationship with board as a whole?

4.  As Chief Executive what can you do to work with the Chair to enhance the governance of the organisation?

5.  Does the board effectively liaise with you in your role as Chief Executive and with the Directors on matters relating to strategy, governance and executive performance?

Chair and Chief Executive  going-wellThe Chair may find it helpful to reflect on the following questions:

6.  Does the board undertake regular reviews of the Chief Executive’s performance and development?

7.  As Chair if you undertake the review of the Chief Executive’s performance,   do you report the outcome of the performance review to the board?   How supportive in the board in bringing out the best in the Chief executive?

8.  How satisfied are you that you ensure that the board adopts a relevant and appropriate agenda for consideration at Board meetings that engenders the engagement of the Chief Executive, the Executive Team and board members?

9.  How satisfied are you that you effectively manage discussion of agenda items allowing sufficient time for complex issues and for robust dialogue.   Do you encourage active participation and engagement in meetings by all board members?

10.  As facilitator, how satisfied are you that you ensure there is a shared sense of the decisions that have been made?  Do you clarify and confirm decisions made and actions to be taken at the end of discussions?

Assess and evaluate to see if answers to these questions take this crucial relationship forward.

Time to Think For More Effective Decision Making

Tesse AkpekiIn today’s fast moving environment we hardly have time to think or even breathe!  Decisions can be made quickly with very little discussion, deliberation or debate.  However decisions that have a big impact and long term consequences need more space for consideration, intentionality and purposefulness.   Mindfulness demonstrates the importance, in fact the necessity of slowing down to speed up.

Nancy Kline’s work aptly called ‘Time to think’ provides a valuable framework to create a thinking environment.   .    I had the opportunity of spending three days with Nancy Kline practising the skills required for the thinking partnership and sharing experiences of approaches that work.   Consider the meeting you would not want to miss it.   People listen to each other without interrupting, attention is 100%, information is shared, diversity is honoured, people feel appreciated, encouraged and valued.    There is a palpable sense of ease in a place that says to everyone, ‘you matter’.   In the thinking environment, there is  space for resolving differences should they arise.    In this environment, everyone wins!

Two stands to ‘New’. Lets go for it!

Tesse AkpekiI am sometimes unclear about when to stop saying ‘happy new year’.  Last year someone told me, at the end of January it is best to stop this seasonable compliment.

Two different Greek words  exist for the English word new. Neos refers to something that has recently come into existence, such as a new year. It hadn’t existed before and is brand-new. Kainos speaks of something being renewed rather than brand-new. It contains the idea that there was something “before” that is now coming into the fullness of its true reality.

It is kainos that raises the concept of “new” to a different level, for example to describe or create the future.  In each case, the idea of “new” is that it’s something that previously existed and is now being recreated and restored so that it can be all it was meant to be.

Living out this new future is possible by the goals, targets and purpose we set out before us.  At the end of 2015, what is it that we would have liked to happen?  What is it that we no longer wish for?     It is encouraging that we can do new things, but we can also achieve significant improvements by refreshing or reviving what we already have or hold.  For you what falls into this category?