I’ve had the opportunity to serve on a number of industry boards over the past few years and have gained invaluable insight, made terrific friendships and come away with a much greater appreciation of what constitutes a good (and not-so-good) board.
I joined one of the boards quite a few years back and have seen players come and go. What’s struck me about the most recent batch of board members, though, is their fresh thinking and near total lack of political agendas. For example, many long-standing board members had tenaciously defended programs and service offerings that had long outlived their usefulness and revenue potential. Why? Because they thought it simply wasn’t right to abandon a program that had been in effect for so long and which the organization had pioneered. In contrast, the ‘newbies’ are open to debate and discussion and are driven only by what makes the most sense moving forward. If something doesn’t make sense, they drop the offering. Period.
In fact, "what’s next" as opposed to "what was" is the best way to describe the board transition I’ve witnessed. No matter how well intentioned they were, the older board members were resistant to change.
Infused with new talent, new thinking and no agendas to speak of, the board is as healthy and vibrant as I’ve ever seen it. And, the beneficiaries of the new approach will be the association members and the organization’s image.
While it may not be applicable to the realities of publicly-traded companies, rotating board members in and out after a set number of years is a very smart business and image strategy. I wonder if we’d be seeing as many board/CEO scandals as we are if the Fortune 500 adhered to strict term limits for their board members?