High Performing Board: What Does ChatGPT Have to Say?Mar 20, 2023
You have no doubt read about ChatGPT and the implications for schools, universities, and journalism…
But how can you make use of these new tools in your work as a Board member?
In order to test drive the artificial intelligence tool at a fairly high and broad level, I asked ChatGPT to explain the ten most significant factors to develop a high performing not-for-profit board. The response was quick and useful. Actually, it didn’t seem so “artificial”… Here is the verbatim response, edited only for length, from 2,000+ words to fewer than a thousand.
Before you go out and handpick members to join your board, you should consider what it is that makes an effective board. After all, having great ideas is one thing — executing them is another.
Here's a list of top ten “must have” qualities that each successful group has in common.
Clarity on Role of Board and Its Members
It's easy to say, but critical to understand: a highly effective board should have clear expectations of its members or you create confusion—leading to ineffectiveness, wasted time, and energy. Additionally, having an established code of conduct that outlines acceptable behaviors can ensure all members are in agreement with each other.
Commitment to the Mission
Commitment to the mission is paramount. This provides not just an internal motivation but also external proof of dedication to a greater cause.
Regular Engagement of Board Members
A highly effective board goes beyond just having a presence. So what does this look like?
Knowledge of the Work. Board members are knowledgeable about their mission, values, programs and services. They understand how their organization fits into the greater context of their industry or community.
Intentional Participation. Each meeting has a specific purpose and members come prepared to contribute. Board members make decisions that reflect the best interests of the organization.
Demonstrating Commitment. Board members show commitment by upholding policies, staying up to date, engaging in volunteer activities and fundraising events, as well as providing financial support.
Create an Effective Governance Structure
A well-structured governance structure should include:
Definitions of roles and responsibilities
Expected levels of engagement
An understanding of the organization's vision, mission and goals.
Develop a Strategic Mindset
Board members need to understand how the current strategy will impact the future of the organization, how their decisions will affect the bottom line, be able to identify risks and opportunities, be ready with innovative ideas that can further the mission.
A successful board must also have an understanding of the bigger context—the external environment and its trends—and be able to adjust strategies accordingly. They have a clear vision for what success looks like.
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Financial Oversight and Accountability
So what does effective financial oversight look like? Here are a few key steps:
Establishing written financial policies and procedures
Preparing budgets and financial reports
Monitoring organizational finances
Approving major expenditures
Ensuring adequate internal controls
Providing oversight on capital projects
Ensuring compliance with laws
Evaluating financial performance relative to the strategic plan
Conducting regular internal audits
Establishing a reserve for emergency use
Manage the finances and remain accountable to those who contribute funds.
Recruitment of Diverse Board Members
Board members should represent a variety of backgrounds, experiences, perspectives and professional areas and different viewpoints. If you need expertise in fundraising, or financial management, or technology, recruiting with these backgrounds can be invaluable.
Diverse boards help to create an inclusive environment that allow for collaboration and stronger decision-making processes.
Regular Review of Organization’s Performance
Board members think critically about the organization's progress towards achieving their goals. If there are any issues or barriers to success, they can be identified and addressed quickly to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Actively Raise Funds for the Organization's Mission
A board must develop comprehensive fundraising plans that align with the mission, actively reach out to potential donors and establish ongoing donor relationships.
Adequate Board Size and SignOffs
Smaller boards can be more effective in taking decisive action; however, larger boards can provide breadth and resources to make full use of individual strengths.
All key decisions should be documented in advance so everyone understands what they are being asked to support or reject. This helps ensure that everyone is on the same page and that compliance with legal requirements is fulfilled.
With these characteristics in mind, it’s time for boards to get started -- work hard, but with the right approach – such that the benefits to the organization and those it serves can be immense.
There you are. All according to ChatGPT. Could hardly have said it better myself.
What are your main “pain points” dealing with Board culture?
What advice would be most helpful to you? And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!
Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.
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