Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Survey Says: Top 10 Reasons Why Boards Fail


As I posted back on June 29, our panel at the upcoming ASAE Annual Meeting (#ASAE14) will present case studies on Why Boards Fail and How to Fix Them.

One of our challenges is to gather reasons for board failures, sort them, rank them and determine which to focus on during our 60-minute session (10:30 - 11:30 am, Tuesday, August 12). #asae14 LL9

Our panel decided to start by crowd-sourcing the reasons boards fail. We developed an initial list of 25 and then circulated a Survey Monkey link via Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and various ASAE Collaborate groups.

140 association executives responded! Thank you!


Yes, we know this was a poll that was neither scientific nor random. But, it gave us a good reading on what the association community is thinking.

Based on your responses, here are the Top 10 reasons Association Boards Fail 
 (top ranking was extremely important & relevant):
  1. Board too focused on operational or tactical matters, as opposed to strategic issues
  2. Board (members) fail to understand the role of board vs role of CEO and staff
  3. Board (or its leadership development committee) fails to vet board candidates in terms of competencies, ability to serve and support for central mission of the association
  4. Poor leadership leads to unproductive meetings, distractions related to new “ideas,” lack of consensus building and decision making, lack of organizational vision, etc.
  5. Board allows mission/program creep; fails to provide adequate resources for new programs/services; fails to eliminate unneeded programs
  6. Board members lack the necessary skills and/or experience to help lead the association
  7. Board members don't adequately prepare for meetings or pay attention during meetings
  8. Board structure & governance
  9. Board fails to ensure execution of strategies related to its central mission
  10. Board unable to make key decisions (too large, poor leadership, lack of vision, etc.)
Using the survey as background, we will highlight eight (8) case studies with a focus on how these boards solved their problems.

Our session is from 10:30 to 11:30 am on Tuesday, August 12. If you are attending ASAE14, hope to see you there. If not, we will share the handout via the ASAE speakers handout site.

Our panel includes:

  • Steve Drake, MA, President, SCD Group Inc
  • Russell Lemieux, Group Vice President, Kellen Company 
  • Greg Schultz, Vice President, The Sherwood Group 
  • Marilyn Jansen, Director, Marketing and Business Development, Association Management Center
  • Randy Lindner, MHSA, CAE, President, Bostrom

1 comment:

  1. I am looking forward to this session. Numbers 1-4 particularly resonate with me. After over 20 years of working with a variety of association boards, I am particularly challenged with my current situation. Specifically, a single director who believes it's his mission (conveniently shrouded under the cover of his definition of "fiduciary responsibility") to be tactical and deep in the weeds. He is not an officer but is allowed, if not encouraged by an unwillingness of his peers to confront him, to have far too much influence around the board table. He serves on the finance and bylaws committees, is co-chair of the government affairs committee, and was allowed to self-appoint himself as chair of the "new" membership committee. Individual directors will privately express their frustrations about him, but when presented the opportunity to take a stand in a board or committee setting, refuse to do so. He is strategically weaving his way into "control" of the association, and unfortunately staff has been unable to affect change, and our board president is unwilling. I have attempted one-on-one conversations, but he does not accept accountability for his actions and continually demonstrates little respect for the expertise and contributions of the professional staff leadership.

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