The Best of the BoardSource Leadership Forum

I had to pleasure to attend the BoardSource Leadership Forum in Chicago this weekend.  The speakers were innovators in the nonprofit sector who had much to share from their enterprises.  Here are a few highlights.

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn

  • Innovation is like jumping off a cliff and trying to assemble a plane before you hit the ground.  You have to think about what innovation is worth jumping off the cliff to achieve.
  • Studies have shown that every board member a corporation add after reaching seven exponentially degrades the effectiveness of a board, hampering discussion, connectedness, and personal responsibility.
  • The function of a board is to make the CEO and organization as powerful as possible and fulfill the mission.  They should constantly ask, how can we be in the best possible place over the next five years.
  • One a year every organization should ask, should we continue as an independent organization or is there another way to fulfill our mission?

Bill Shore, Share Our Strengths

  1. Go Big or Go home: there is a cultural discomfort with being held accountable.  Select initiatives where you demand accountability.
  2. Capacity equals impact: invest in recruiting and retaining talented staff and board.
  3. Accountability: share specific goals and metrics and allow people to see results.
  4. Robust public policy component: find where to intersect powerfully with public policy.
  5. Understand we have to collaborate but we also are competing: competing to bring out the best in the organization.
  6. Ask, where is the national conversation taking place: reframe discussions and make connections.
  7. Too late: it is always too late somewhere.  The window of opportunity can close at any moment.
Steve Rothschild, author of The Non Nonprofit
  1. Have a clear purpose: hold organization accountable to purpose in everything you do.
  2. Measure what counts: does it connect to purpose?
  3. Be market driven: understand and identify who is your customer (may not be your clients).
  4. Create mutual accountability: be clear and specific.  Serve the whole.
  5. Support personal empowerment: develop a root system to support the growth above ground (tree metaphor).
  6. Create economic value from social benefit: every improvement in social benefit has a direct economic benefit.
  7. Be learning driven: Allow for unanticipated consequences and change.

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