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The Strategic Board: The Step-by-Step Guide to High-Impact Governance

The Strategic Board: The Step-by-Step Guide to High-Impact Governance

Mark Light

ISBN: 978-0-471-19520-7 March 2004 272 Pages





Every nonprofit board wants to be great. But the reality is, feware. It's one of the great puzzles of governance. How do you moldhighly talented individuals with diverse backgrounds, limited time,and no governance expertise into an effective board?

The Strategic Board provides the answer. Drawing on more thantwenty years of nonprofit experience, Mark Light outlines apractical model that overcomes the built-in deficiencies ofnonprofit boards and guides them to strategic effectiveness. TheStrategic Board(TM) model of governance is a step-by-step,easy-to-implement, multilevel course of action that enables a boardto craft a comprehensive Governance Plan(TM) that:
* Develops a Leadership Plan that determines "Where to gotomorrow?"
* Creates a Delegation Plan that specifies "Who does what?"
* Follows through with a Management Plan that decides "What getsdone today?"
* Puts in place a Vigilance Plan to answer the question "Did ithappen?"

The Strategic Board approach doesn't dictate the answers. Rather,it makes sure you ask all the right questions as you outline yourgoals and focus on achieving them. It's a uniquely flexibleblueprint for better functioning that will at last connect yourboard's work about where you go tomorrow with your staff's work onwhat gets done today.

Every nonprofit board dreams of greatness. Here are the tools toachieve it.

Seize the Day.

The Case Statement.

The Governance Plan.


Where To Go Tomorrow.




Who Does What?

Determining Duties and Guidelines.

Adding Value.


What Gets Done Today?

Building the Management Plan.


Did it Happen?


Closing Thoughts.

Appendix A: Victoria Theatre Association Governance Plan.


"The Strategic Board tackles head-on the single most urgent problemfacing not-for-profit organizations and their boards of trustees.It is refreshingly, lucidly written, as well as fast-paced. It isblessedly free of social science jargon, as well as theory, andoffers a clear, direct explanation of the basic reasons mostnot-for-profit boards fail to fulfill their responsibilities or tofunction at minimally acceptable standards. It offers a practical,no-nonsense "how to" roadmap that will leave not-for-profit boardmembers no excuse for being ineffective or sub-optimal. This bookpicks up where the authoritative, research-based study of boards byBowen, Nygren, and et. al, and Chait, Holland, and Taylor leaveoff, and outlines what a not-for-profit organization must do inorder to transform itself into a strategic-thinking,strategically-run organization. It is must reading for everynot-for-profit board and chief executive."--Joel Fleishman,Professor of Public Policy Sanford Institute

"Mark Light demonstrates a keen understanding of the challengesfacing nonprofit boards, and offers a simple, useable framework forfocusing the work of a board."--Carol A. Lukas, Director,National Services, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation

"Who among us, often serving simultaneously in both roles ofnonprofit executive and board member, would not relate in aheartbeat to Light's seven 'realities' and four 'questions of greatgovernance?' The importance and usefulness of Mark's insights andtested plan are immeasurable to all of us who wrestle daily withthis #1, always-in-your-face challenge.--Roni D. Posner,Ed.D., Executive Director, Alliance for Nonprofit Management

"It is a delight to recommend this step-by-step guide to highimpact governance! As a direct result of this remarkable process,our United Way is posting stunning gains in a highly competitivefundraising and community investment arena where everything ismeasured and outcomes matter! Mark Light's star shines brightest inthis extraordinary work!"--Alan Perez, President/CEO, UnitedWay of Erie County

"Finally-a no-nonsense book from a seasoned nonprofit executivewho has worked as both a consultant to nonprofit organizations andin the trenches of governance. Straight to the point and eminentlypractical, Mark Light's governance model challenges nonprofitexecutives to think beyond traditional approaches and reach forinnovative solutions." --Richard D. Moyers, ExecutiveDirector, Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations

"Mark Light zeroes in on the obstacles to good governance andsharply focuses the board's attention on its essential andstrategic role."--Alice Korngold, President and CEO, BusinessVolunteers Unlimited

"Mark Light's Strategic BoardTM governance model is a new andinnovative approach to the most important challenge to nonprofitorganizations today-improving governance. As a consultant who hasused this model in my own work with boards, I can say withconfidence that this book will be welcomed by the nonprofitcommunity and well-used."--James Abruzzo, Managing Director,Nonprofit, Education and e-Philanthropy Practice StratfordGroup