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

Little Red Bus icon

Sunrise, Sunset

Recently it had been noted that there were fewer paying passengers on the Little Red Bus as it traveled to its vacation destinations. Remaining passengers who had been on the bus for many trips began to get alarmed. What was the reason for the lack of paying customers? After speaking with several of the former passengers, it was learned that the Little Red Bus no longer served the needs/wants of some and they had simply stopped taking the trips. It was also learned that prospective passengers did not see the Little Red Bus as satisfying their needs. Passengers were looking for more luxury. They wanted more leg room, air conditioning and Internet access to name but three of their expectations.

Current passengers had a decision to make. They could keep operating the bus as it currently was and risk the possibility of losing more passengers or they could do a significant upgrade and provide more of the luxuries being sought by prospective passengers. The latter seemed to be the logical choice; however, it would require the creation of a whole new image for the Little Red Bus. This image simply was not in keeping with the mission of the Little Red Bus to provide safe and low-cost transportation for a modest amount of money. Upon review of the options identified, current passengers — because of their emotional attachment to the Little Red Bus — failed to identify what was possibly the best option of all: perhaps it was time to retire the bus. Sunsetting seemed to be an option very worthy of consideration.

Organizations exist to address a specific need. The stated mission identifies this need and the role that the organization will play in addressing it. What if the stated need no longer exists or what if the organization no longer has the capacity to address the need? When faced with such a situation, all too often emotions take the place of logical thinking and the organization is not allowed to sunset.

Questions for consideration:

  • Is the need for which the organization was created still an existing need?
  • Does the organization have the capacity to adjust and change to meet this need?
  • Are key stakeholders acting on well-grounded information or are they reaching decisions based primarily on their emotional attachment to this organization?

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.