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Don’t Emulate Poor Richard III: Protect Your Authority’s Image

April 2, 2018 0 Comments

And therefore since I cannot prove a lover to entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain and hate the idle pleasures of these days. Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous….

Ah, King Richard III:   how we love to hate him, how we shiver at his delicious villainy! He was Duke of Gloucester when William Shakespeare put these words in his mouth in the monologue that opens his riveting “The Tragedy of King Richard the Third,” and in the play Richard soon murders his way to the throne of England, his most infamous victims being his … Read the rest

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How To Make Financial Reporting a High-Powered Relationship Building and PR Tool

March 29, 2018 0 Comments

Let me tell you a tale of two authorities’ very different approaches to presenting financial performance reports at their monthly board meetings.  Authority A takes a pretty traditional approach.  The authority’s CFO thoroughly reviews the multi-page financial report, consisting of rows and columns of numbers, with the board’s finance committee, which passes the report along to the full board in the monthly board meeting packet.  The CFO presents highlights from the report at the full board meeting and answers any questions the board might have.

Authority B’s approach is dramatically different.  The CFO takes the board’s performance monitoring committee through … Read the rest

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Taking Re-Branding Up a Big Notch: Karen Philbrick on the MTI Experience

March 20, 2018 0 Comments

I wasn’t initially blown away by enthusiasm when Karen Philbrick, Executive Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute, suggested that we record a podcast for this blog focusing on MIT’s re-branding initiative.  What came immediately to mind were the many re-branding efforts I’d observed over the years that involved essentially cosmetic touch-ups.  I was reminded of the most recent egregious example:  a local economic and community development corporation whose light – the board and chief executive had concluded – was well hidden by the proverbial bushel:  its role unclear and its achievements unrecognized.  Unfortunately, they chose a cheap and easy solution … Read the rest

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APTA’s Dynamic Leadership Duo Takes on the Mobility Management Issue

March 14, 2018 0 Comments

Drawing on my quarter-century in the public/nonprofit leadership field, I could share many true stories of successful board chair-CEO collaboration that make the case for what really board-savvy CEOs well know: investing in the development of a rock-solid board chair-CEO working relationship can yield powerful organizational dividends.   In fact, I would suggest that one of the preeminent priorities of a truly board-savvy CEO is to transform his or her board chair into a strong governing partner, a reliable ally, and when needed, an ardent change champion. The board chair makes an especially important partner for the CEO not only because … Read the rest

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Board-Savvy CEOs Avoid Falling Into the Board Self-Assessment Trap

March 7, 2018 0 Comments

I received an email promo last week from a national nonprofit ballyhooing its board self-assessment “tool,” which reminded me of a true story that goes back around four years. The GM of a large urban transportation authority called me to get my feedback on a dilemma he found himself in.  He’d retained one of those local nonprofit leadership centers that have sprung up around the country in recent years to help design and carry out a board capacity building initiative that he saw as badly needed.  He’d sought help, he said, because he’d grown increasingly worried about the pretty obvious … Read the rest

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Dramatic Innovation on the Health and Wellness Front at IndyGo on CEO Michael Terry’s Watch

March 3, 2018 0 Comments

The Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (known as “IndyGo”) has been blazing trails on the health and wellness front for the past decade under the leadership of its President and CEO, Michael Terry.  In the podcast he recently recorded for this blog, Mike describes a number of significant innovation initiatives in the health and wellness area that IndyGo has successfully implemented on his watch, including a comprehensive employee wellness program and an on-site primary care clinic.

As our readers well know, significant organizational change tends not to happen, and CEOs who would spearhead change face a daunting challenge. Perhaps the most … Read the rest

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It’s Never Been Easier to Publish Your Own Book, So Go For It!

February 22, 2018 0 Comments

“Have you thought about publishing your own books?” No I hadn’t, and, to be honest, the question took me aback when I heard it a decade ago.  I was chatting with a long-time colleague, Tom Berger, about the new book I was about to start writing.  Tom and I had gotten to know each other years earlier at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, where we worked closely together – I as chief of staff to the president and Tom as director of public relations.  Tom asked his provocative question right after I’d given him my nutshell description of the … Read the rest

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Blazing Trails on the Diversity and Inclusion Front at RTS

February 16, 2018 0 Comments

In Changing By Design (Jossey-Bass, 1997), I recount a real-life example of the difference between what Chris Argyris calls “espoused theory” and “theory in practice.”  Early in my career I worked closely with a young, ambitious, fast-track college chief executive who was an avid consumer of the latest management thinking and could go on at length about one innovative technique or another.  A favorite hobbyhorse of his was participatory management and team building.  Waxing eloquent on the subject of teamwork as a key to organizational innovation, his eyes would tear up on occasion – he was that sincere.  His espoused … Read the rest

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Demonstrating Your Board Savvyness

February 9, 2018 0 Comments

Experience has taught me – and I’m sure many if not most of this blog’s readers – that the more board-savvy its CEO, the more effective a transit board is likely to be as a governing body and the more favorable the odds of building a rock-solid board-CEO partnership that can withstand the inevitable stresses and strains that come with leading a modern transit system. So transit boards have a big stake in recruiting CEOs whose governing intelligence is well developed.  This is certainly a point I strongly made in the program I co-presented with Dave Stackrow, APTA Vice Chair, … Read the rest

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5 Facts of Life in the Rapidly Evolving “Field” of Public Transit Governance

January 26, 2018 0 Comments

Actually, governance – the leadership work of governing boards in close collaboration with their chief executive officers – isn’t yet a full-fledged field. It’s getting there, but still can’t claim the set of universally accepted core principles and thoroughly tested best practices that you expect a fully developed field to have.  Instead, principles and practices are heatedly debated, and oodles of really dangerous advice – what I think of as “insidious foes” – can damage board performance and erode the board-CEO working relationship.  I call these dangerous bits of advice “insidious” because they can sound quite plausible – and might … Read the rest

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