Civil Society: Develop Board Capacity

hex_societyAttract Boards With Carrying Capacity

Integral City Civil Society Organizations (CSO) develop Boards with as much “carrying capacity” as possible. “Carrying capacity” comes from electing leaders with balanced leadership skills, broad city representation and cross-sectoral participation as Board members.

Increasing Board capacity for the CSO means more:

  • Awareness of city issues, challenges and opportunities
  • Access to more donors and funders
  • Political awareness
  • Creative ideas and proposals
  • Vision and goals
  • Strategic and practical implementation
  • Resilience in times of change
  • Perspectives from different professions, roles, workplaces
  • Diversity of experience and education
  • Diversity of culture and ethnicity
  • Diversity of age, gender, psychographics
  • Balanced input from more city districts
  • Interconnections between Board members

Embrace Capacities from 4 Perspectives

Each Board member naturally embraces capacities that arise from four integral perspectives (see Figure 1):

  • I or Subjective, Personal views
  • We or Intersubjective, Familial and Cultural views
  • IT or Objective Bio-Physical views
  • ITS or Interobjective or Social views

The four quadrants in Figure 1 also relate to capacities that include virtually all roles, workplaces and professions in the city. This can be used as a checklist to ensure Board candidates are proposed from the whole city; for example:

  • Subjective: Educator, Teacher, Trainer, Psychologist, Coach, Mentor, Speaker, Writer
  • Intersubjective: Social Services Worker, Pastor, Artist, Musician, NFP Service Provider, Lawyer, Accountant, Journalist, Editor
  • Objective: Health Care Worker (Nurse, Doctor, Chiropractor, Pharmacist, etc.), Real Estate Agent, Artisan, Tradesperson, Financial Advisor, Engineer
  • Interobjective: Planner, Developer, Contractor, Business Owner, Manager, NFP Distributor, Publisher, Technology Specialist

Figure 1: 4 Integral Perspectives

A process for targeting and obtaining Board capacity follows.

  1. Find out who is on the Board based on their current/past work. Locate their work on the four quadrant map and their workplace (and/or their residence) on the city street map.
  2. Find out who has been on the Board for the past three terms (in the example in Figure 2, that is nine years). Locate them on the four quadrant map and city street map.
  3. Identify any quadrants or city districts that are or have been unrepresented or underrepresented.
  4. Focus nominating activities on attracting leaders from quadrants or areas, who have been unrepresented or underrepresented in the last three terms.
  5. Attract leaders whose values align with those of the CSO.
  6. Whenever the CSO has new Board members orient them to the CSO, its vision, values, mission, strategies and projects/programs. A process for developing Board capacity is also important.
  7. The potential of Board capacity can only be optimized by ongoing (annual) training of Board members. This can often be accomplished in value-added retreats. (The value-added comes from broadening and strengthening Board members leadership skills as suggested in Motivate Intentionsand Develop Leadership Capacity.)
  8. The nomination, orientation/training process needs to be repeated annually to ensure ongoing sustainability of high Board capacity.

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