But as Shelly Alcorn recently reminded me, the for-profit model is not always the best template for association activities. Here's a case in point. Another HBR blog post from Roger Martin, this one focused on six ways to tell if you have a bad board. Written from a decidedly for-profit and publicly-traded perspective, Martin includes such tell-tale signs as:
1) They complain about how hard Sarbanes-Oxley has made it to be a director.
2) They complain about how the fees for being a director aren't high enough to compensate for the onerous work involved.
3) They are paid in the top tertile of peer boards.
4) They express excessive pride over being on the board.
5) They express enthusiasm for the enjoyable social atmosphere on the board.
6) They express enthusiasm for the personal growth opportunities the board provides them.
If you ask me, these are either not problems for most associations (#1, 2, 3) or may actually be good things in our environment (#4, 5, 6). Seriously, a desire for personal growth is a good thing in an association Board member, isn't it?
But this analysis begs the obvious question. What are the signs of a bad association Board? If we were to take a poll of association executives, we'd probably see things like:
1) They don't show up for board meetings.
2) They show up for board meetings completely unprepared.
3) They don't disclose their conflicts of interest and use their board positions to financially enrich themselves.
4) They micromanage staff activity.
5) Individuals publicly disagree with decisions of the board.
6) There's more than 20 of them.
When you compare those two lists, you see how far apart the for-profit and non-profit worlds sometimes are.
Photo by fpra