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

Little Red Bus icon

Two Better than One?

Ralph had been driving the Little Red Bus full time for 15 years and decided that it was time to retire. Upon reviewing the applications for his position, the search committee looked at an application in which two drivers would work as a team with each being hired on a part-time basis. The application looked interesting for a number of reasons, including 1.) In case of illness or leave for one of the drivers, a back-up would be in place; and 2.) Each of the applicants brought a different skill set to the job. Upon review of the applicants, the search committee decided to hire the two applicants for the one job. Shortly after their hiring, a feeling of confusion began to set in among the passengers. Driver George wanted the passengers to purchase a new set of tires because of what he determined to be a safety hazard. Driver Molly thought the tires were just fine and wanted the passengers to purchase a new air conditioning system for the bus. Driver George was quite demanding while Driver Molly attempted to engage the passengers in the decision making process. To whom should the passengers look for a final recommendation and what role should they play in decision making?

Quite frequently organizations are faced with a hiring decision which is a "package deal": Two individuals would split responsibilities as the Executive Director. The case being made by the applicants is that the organization is actually getting two individuals with a broad set of expertise. Can it work? Yes. However, such a situation often comes with significant limitations. Do both applicants share a common understanding of how to work with the Board? Are their styles compatible? Who has the final authority in the decision making process? Many pitfalls are possible in such an arrangement.

Questions for consideration:

  • What is the primary motivation for a team application?
  • Are their styles compatible when working with stakeholders?
  • Who would be the primary decision maker and representative to the Board?

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.