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Board Capacity Building

Solving the Board Development Puzzle:  the How

April 14, 2021 0 Comments

Our readers might recall that the March 25 post at this blog dealt with two pieces of the board development puzzle:  WHAT does board development mean?  WHY is it critical that the CEO spearhead board development, wearing the Board Developer-in-Chief hat?  The post points out that your transit board – like any other formal organization – can be consciously and systematically developed into an organization more capable of carrying out its mission:  to govern your authority.  Of course, board development is an ongoing function because the field of transit governance is continuously evolving.  Another important point the post makes is … Read the rest

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Solving the Board Development Puzzle: the What and the Why  

March 25, 2021 0 Comments

The half-day Zoom governance workshop I presented a couple of weeks ago for 25-some CEOs of a diverse array of transit authorities included a segment on board development.  Early in my career I would  have been a trifle worried that the topic might be ho-hum for some of the more seasoned  CEOs, but I soon learned I needn’t have been concerned.   Since much of the terrain we covered in the workshop turned  out to be refreshingly new to the great majority of my participants,  I think readers of this blog will be interested  in the key points  that came up … Read the rest

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Don’t Unwittingly Turn Your Board Members Into Victims of Poorly Designed Structure and Process

October 15, 2020 0 Comments

A transit CEO  called me not long ago, asking if I’d be interested in presenting a governance training workshop for his transit board.  He explained that several board members were coming dangerously close to “micro-managing,” and he wanted them to understand the boundaries between “executive” and “governing” work.  The example he gave involved a discussion at the most recent board meeting about travel expenditures over the past six months, including how decisions were made about who would be taking what trips and what kinds of reports were required about travel.

I agreed that there did appear to be some micro-managing … Read the rest

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Bringing New Board Members On Board – the Right Way

August 24, 2020 0 Comments

The GM, along with his top five executives, made sure the two incoming board members, neither of whom had been involved with public transportation issues, got a thorough briefing on the authority during the two-hour orientation session in the GM’s office.   They learned about the authority’s services, organizational structure, revenue streams, expenditure budget, and long-range capital plan, among other things, referring frequently to the handsome notebook staff had put together. There was plenty of time to ask questions over the box lunch following the staff presentation, after which the chief operating officer took the incoming board members on a tour Read the rest

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Two Lynchpins of a High-Performing Board Committee Structure

August 13, 2020 0 Comments

While preparing for an upcoming workshop with the CEO of a transit authority and her executive team recently, focusing on the nuts and bolts details involved in launching a new board committee structure, I reflected on a seminal learning experience early in my career, when I was chief of staff to the president of a three-campus urban community college district.  How fortunate I was to learn such an important lesson so early in my professional journey that has served me well in the ensuing years!   Here’s the story in a nutshell.

Over the course of the three years he chaired … Read the rest

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The Engine Powering Your Transit Authority’s Governing Machine

January 21, 2020 0 Comments

Over the years I’ve often heard transit boards described as “policy-making bodies,” which doesn’t begin to convey the complexity of governing work.  It makes more sense to think about your authority’s board as a kind of governing machine that continuously produces governing decisions about such governing “products” as your authority’s updated values and vision statements, the new strategic plan, and next year’s operating plan and budget.  Your governing machine also produces a steady stream of governing judgments answering the classic governing question, “How are we doing? – on the basis of such information as your authority’s monthly or quarterly operational … Read the rest

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Ownership: the Fuel that Powers Significant Board Change

October 10, 2019 0 Comments

Let’s begin with a sad and all-too-familiar true tale of woe that a transit general manager recounted to me in one of our early coaching sessions. A few months earlier, he and the governance consultant he’d retained to analyze his board’s structure joined all board members in a special two-hour work session to consider a recommended new committee structure to replace the administratively-focused, narrow “silo” committees that the GM and consultant agreed were leading to rampant board micro-management. Standing at the front of the conference room, the GM and his consultant began the PowerPoint presentation describing the functions of the … Read the rest

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L A County’s Access Services’ Strategic Governing Team Explores Enriching Board Composition

September 27, 2019 0 Comments

Last week, I was privileged to facilitate a daylong “High-Impact Governing  Work Session” involving the Board of Directors, chaired by Dolores Nason, the Executive Director, Andre Colaiace, and the Executive Team of Access Services, which provides paratransit services in Los Angeles County.  One of the major topics we addressed during our day together was developing the Board’s self-management capacity.  The board self-management function, as most of our readers no doubt know, consists of two key elements:  developing the people on your board; and managing your board’s governing performance.  One of the six breakout groups we employed over the course of Read the rest

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Getting Your New Board Committees Off on the Right Foot

August 23, 2019 0 Comments

Whether newly created board standing committees find their sea legs early in their existence and are soon firmly established depends heavily on two factors: the board chair’s appointment of the right board members to chair the new committees; and the CEO’s designation of an executive team member to serve as Chief Staff Liaison to each committee.

Once the new committees have effectively functioned for a year, the appointment of committee chairs is a more routine matter, but choosing the right first chairs for the new committees will be critical to their success as your board’s “governing engines.” Experience has taught … Read the rest

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3 Quick Fixes That Won’t Corral the Rogues on Your Board

June 19, 2019 0 Comments

Last week’s post at this blog talked about tried and true approaches to reining in “rogue” board members. I defined them as “trouble makers who march to their own governing tune at their own tempo, with little concern about the impact on their board colleagues” and observed that their behavior “can erode a board’s governing performance and poison a board’s culture, while in the process occasionally even tarnishing a transit authority’s image in the community.” The most effective approach to fencing your rogue board members in and preventing them from wreaking havoc, according to last week’s post, is fully developing … Read the rest

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