Little Red Bus — Your Vehicle for Building a Stronger Governing Board

Little Red Bus icon

The Chemistry

Passengers on the Little Red Bus were all excited about the day that lay ahead. The bus was headed for a nearby state park where they were ready to enjoy a game of softball followed by a picnic.

Upon arriving at the park, the passengers drew numbers to see who would be on each of the two teams. As it turned out, one of the teams had far more natural talent for the game than the other team. As the game went on, the more talented team members focused only on their individual performances. The less skilled team backed up each others’ plays and cheered its members on for good teamwork. The final score favored the less talented team.

How does this translate into the experiences of a governing board? It is important to know and practice the roles necessary to become an effective governing board; however, it is at least equally important that board members come together and work as a team. Extraneous agendas need to be checked at the door. Terms such as teamwork, trust, communication, constructive disagreement and "for the common good" must be a part of the operating dynamics of a well-functioning governing board.

Questions for consideration:

  • Are all board members here for a common agenda – the best interests of the organization?
  • Is the work of the collective board owned by the full board once a decision is reached?
  • Is equal respect paid to the input of all board members?
  • Do all board members cheer for and support each other?

Need help with board development?
Contact Jim Storm at jstormcod1@aol.com or 612-616-0256.

Little Red Bus — Your Vehicle for Building a Stronger Governing Board

Little Red Bus icon

Al Capone, Jr

The 36 passengers on the Little Red Bus (LRB) found it increasingly cumbersome and very time consuming to make group decisions and monitor the business of operating the LRB. As a result, they incorporated and created a governing board of eight that would take on those responsibilities. Prospective board members were told that their job would be an easy one as the driver of the LRB was very competent and needed very minimal oversight.

Unfortunately, once selected, the new board members rarely monitored the business operation of the LRB and oftentimes failed to show up for meetings. All felt that the driver, Al Capone, Jr., although stuck with a very poor name, would handle things well. At meetings, they would listen to Al's operating and financial reports while occasionally nodding off. After all, Al was the expert.

It came as a great surprise when the president of the board received a phone call from the bank indicating that the LRB had no money in the bank and was, in fact, overdrawn.

Board members were further shocked to learn that good old Al had been using business funds for his personal use. To make matters even worse, the board members learned that they were personally responsible for the debt incurred.

A key function of a governing board is financial oversight. How is the money being generated and how is it being spent? A failure to attend board meetings and to carefully review the financial standing of the organization are ultimately failures of the Board with individual board members bearing personal responsibility. Pay up!

Questions for consideration:

  • Do all board members understand their legal responsibility of financial oversight?
  • Do all board members understand the importance of their showing up in some manner at board meetings and reviewing the financial information?
  • Do all board members understand that it is the executive director's responsibility to provide them with accurate up-to-date financial information?
  • Are all board members willing to see their names in public should a financial scandal arise in the organization?

Need help with board development?
Contact Jim Storm at jstormcod1@aol.com or 612-616-0256.