December  2010                                                                                                              Issue 6

BoardWorks International

Welcome to Issue 6 of Board Works

Welcome to this final issue in the 2010 series. We have deliberately held it over because who wants to be thinking too hard about these types of issue during (and preceding) the holiday season? We trust you have had an enjoyable and relaxing break.


We begin with a continuation of the debate in Issue 5 about the line between governance and management.  What are the matters that justify a board's attention? The first article (Determining the Governance Perspective) attempts to define some practical questions that will help board members and management alike, to get a better sense of the answer to this question.


Reinforcing and expanding this is an article on criterion-referenced monitoring (Ensuring You Can See the Wood for the Trees: Criterion Referenced Monitoring). This addresses the practical need for boards to be both effective and efficient in monitoring organisational activities and performance.


From time to time, to assist in benchmarking their own boardroom practices, we will refer readers to other sources of information. In this issue we refer to the recently published survey by the US peak body for not-for-profit governance, BoardSource (A Review of US Not-For-Profit Governance Practices).  We have deliberately not attempted to analyse the results preferring to leave readers to take from this survey what they will.


Finally, in this issue we explore the issue of boardroom presentations. Unfortunately, too many presentations do not hit the mark. While not intended to be an exhaustive analysis we hope that 'Getting the Best Out Of Boardroom Presentations' will stimulate your thinking about how well these work for your board.



Good reading


Graeme Nahkies

In This Issue
Determing the 'Governance' Perspective
Ensuring You Can See the Wood for the Trees:
A Review of US Not-for-Profit Governance Practices
Getting the Best out of Boardroom Presentations
Have your Say
Article1Determining the 'Governance' Perspective
Perspectives Issue 6In Issue 5 we examined the 'line' between governance and management ('Where is the line?) primarily from a constitutional and conceptual point of view. One of the challenges inexperienced board members often have, however, is to determine and apply a practical way to decide what matters might (or might not) be of board interest. 

Read and Print the full Article

Article2Ensuring You Can See the Wood for the Trees: Criterion-Referenced Monitoring

Wood for trees Issue 6Organisational performance monitoring is an essential means by which a board discharges its accountability. It is the process by which the board checks that the performance criteria it has set have been met.


Article3A Review of US Not-For-Profit Governance Practices

The BoardSource 'Nonprofit Governance Index 2010' is a rare opportunity to benefit from the experience and perspectives of a variety of US board members and senior executives on organizational challenges, governance practices, and board performance.


BoardSource is the peak body in the US dedicated to "advancing the public good by building exceptional nonprofit boards and inspiring board service." It has been collecting data on governance in 1994 and its most recent Index came out in 2007.

Article4AGetting the Best Out Of Boardroom Presentations

Presentations Issue 6Increasingly we hear board members questioning the time spent listening to presentations from both staff and outsiders. While these are valuable in many ways, presentations seem often not to hit the mark.


There is usually a genuine sense (on the part of the instigator) that the presentation deals with something the board needs to know and understand. Too often, however, it seems the presentations are on topics of interest and importance to the presenters but not necessarily to the board. Regrettably, also, we sometimes observe that presentations seem to be little more than a means of filling up the board's agenda.  This implies a level of respect for the board's time that brings to mind the remark of a former Australian State Premier who likened issuing press releases to journalists to "feeding the chooks". 


"The boards of non-profits are notoriously subject to the problem of failing to see a fast, clearly visible train coming - even when it is moving inexorably and their organisation is sitting right on the tracks"

Improving the Performance of Boards, American Council of Education, 1996 



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