It’s time for us to do one of the most exciting things I can think of – recruit the founding board for Creating the Future!
Yes, exciting. It’s exciting because a board means this organization is real (not that we don’t already have programs that are extremely real, and all the other stuff that says, “we’re real,” but a board is a big “real” step!). It’s exciting because we will be surrounding ourselves with brilliant minds, passionate about the work of creating a healthy, vibrant future for our world.
And ok, I admit it is exciting because I am a huge governance geek.
The fact that I love this stuff is no secret. The bazillions of articles and posts I’ve written over the years, the books, the workshops – when I think of boards, their boundless untapped potential gives me goosebumps. (Yes, I know, it’s a sickness. I’m ok with that…)
In our experience, board recruitment often starts with brainstorming a list of names. Sometimes before brainstorming that list, someone whips out a canned “matrix” that says every board should have X number of people from X walks of life (as if every board’s needs were the same, or as if recruiting board members as pro bono help was even a good idea...)
And it is precisely that experience that leads boards to recruit “warm blood and a pulse” or worse – board members that are a bad fit.
The process we are about to undertake will instead consider three critical sets of qualities:
• The Must-Have Qualities: Those qualities we want to be sure every single board member has.
• The “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” Qualities: Those qualities it would be nice if some had, but they don’t all need to have (money, connections, expertise in specific areas of the mission, etc.)
• The “Never in a Million Years” Qualities: Those qualities that, without being explicit about them, we are often willing to overlook as we seek folks in the “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” category. (i.e. “He’s loud-mouthed and has ego issues, but heck – he’s got money…”)
Before diving in, it’s probably important to share a bit of background. About a year ago, as we prepared to build this organization, we realized that we have a unique opportunity to be our own demonstration project, modeling what it would look like to transparently engage all our constituents in all our major decisions. We realized that process alone could be a beacon, a role model, and an invitation to share learning.
What that means is we will be asking for your wisdom, your ideas and your experiences as each major decision arises along this path. We will document the results of that process to the best of our ability to do so. And we will see what happens from there!
(To see our first example of transparently engaged decision-making, check out the series of blog posts that led to our name, Creating the Future, up to and including the decision to purchase the domain names!)
Let’s Get Started
As we dive in to build our board, then, we are hoping you will help us brainstorm the qualities that will help this organization move forward. Initially I thought I would ask for one category at a time, but knowing human nature, I knew we would wind up with ideas all over the place – the boon and bane of good brainstorming!
So all I ask is that you tell me which category the qualities you are thinking about fit under.
Must Have: What qualities must every board member have for this creative new venture?
Wouldn’t It Be Nice: What qualities would be nice if some had, but not everyone needs them?
Never Ever Ever: What qualities should we steer clear of, that might tank our ability to reach for this organization’s potential?
Because we have been thinking about this, I thought I might get the ball rolling with a few ideas we’ve been playing with. Please let me know if you don’t think these are valid. None of this is set in stone, it’s all just ideas.
• Must “get” the essence of our work and be passionate about its potential.
• Must have time to commit to being a board member (while we don’t know yet how much time that is, this will be a founding board, and we’ll probably chat a lot via listserv in addition to formal board meetings, so…)
• Must have integrity as in “wholeness of being” / must be “wise” and not just smart.
• Must embrace open-source / transparently engaged decision-making
• Must embrace the values noted here
• Must be comfortable with ambiguity, as we are seriously building this plane while we’re flying it.
Wouldn’t It Be Nice
• Connections with people throughout all levels of the sector – academics and researchers, funders and philanthropists, social entrepreneurs and grass roots organizers, and etc.
• While everyone needs to have a comfort level with ambiguity, it would be nice to have some folks who are cautious in their approach to that ambiguity. On the flip side, it would be nice to have folks who are courageous explorers, who love venturing into the unknown with confidence that things will all work out. We’ll need some of both.
• Board members from various countries around the world would help ensure the work is infused with cross-cultural sensibilities.
Never in a Million Years
• Folks who are fearful, who are set in their ways, who are focused on why things can’t work vs. how they can.
Ok, that’s my list so far. As I said, a work in progress, so please both add to it and question what is already there. I can’t wait to see what we come up with – and then start to to find!!!
I am so looking forward to your thoughts!