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Board Governance

"Is Your Association Ready for a Radical Change?"
By Vicki Scott, Director of Client Services

A new book by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers entitled "Race for Relevance, 5 Radical Changes for Associations" suggests that it might just be time for a change. This unconventional approach to restructuring, or should I say refocusing your association is not for the faint of heart. The book introduces five radical changes that will "energize and reposition" your association they are:

  • Overhaul the governance model and committee operations:
  • Empower the CEO and enhance staff expertise;
  • Rigorously define the member market;
  • Rationalize programs and services; and
  • Build a robust technology framework

The authors indicate that these changes must be undertaken in sequence, beginning with addressing your governance structure. What they mean by "addressing" is essentially reducing the size of your board of directors to approximately five. Those organizations currently operating with much larger boards may find this radical concept hard to grasp. The authors, however, would argue that the large majority of associations basically operate under this format now. The most active committee in any non-profit is usually the Executive Committee which is generally comprised of five active volunteer leaders. When you put it that way, the notion of reducing your board almost seems logical. In the end each association must decide for itself.

My suggestion is to read the book, attend a presentation by one of the authors if you can, and start a conversation with your colleagues and at the appropriate time, with the board of directors. You might be surprised at their reaction.