Rethink Your Board Committees — Start with a Blank Page

Big Idea #3 – Rethink Your Board Committees, continued

As a follow-up to the questions about board committees posed in our post last week, we want to share the concept of zero-based board committees.

This powerful idea will prevent the proverbial, “well, we’ve always had a program committee…”

Start each fiscal year (or every other fiscal year if you want to follow a two-year cycle that matches your board chair’s term) with a blank piece of paper. Ask the question — what is the work that needs to be accomplished and what is the right committee structure to meet those goals?

When you start with a blank slate — zero-based — then you create what you need rather inherit a structure that may no longer be relevant. It also gives the organization an opportunity to change committee leadership and members, and to think strategically if the committee should be standing, ad hoc, or a task force.

If you are concerned about fulfilling the structure set forth in your by-laws, then change it to a statement that is more broad than prescriptive, such as “the board has the authority to establish committees,” which gives you the authority to do just that without being beholden to an antiquated structure.

Time and again, we work with clients who continue to operate with a committee structure that creates more confusion than clarity and more work than results. We love this idea of starting over with fresh thinking and want to hear from you.

Have you operated in this way and how has it worked?