The Board in the Boat, Part 3: Discombobulation

By John Pearson

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series on strategy alignment, we’ve used the “board in the boat” metaphor to discuss the importance of inspiring board members (and the CEO and staff) to all be rowing in the same direction

But alignment is not enough!

In his short and succinct book on board service, Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board, Max De Pree (former CEO and chairman at Herman Miller and a former seminary board chair), writes:

“An effective board decides what it will measure and does it.

  • A good board measures the effectiveness of its executive team.
  • A good board reviews the effectiveness of its members.
  • And a good board is going to ask at the right times, ‘How are we doing against our plan?’
  • A good board will always measure the results of any major investment.

A good board will measure the appropriate inputs as well as outputs.”

Then he adds, “Failure to measure what matters damages our future.”
Ask your board to also reflect on De Pree’s memorable line in his excellent book,
Leading Without Power: Finding Hope in ServingCommunity:

“In my experience a failure to make a conscious decision about what it is we’re going to measure often causes discombobulation and a lack of effectiveness and a lack of achievement.”

For Christ-centered boards—even more is at stake say Gary G. Hoag, R. Scott Rodin, and Wesley K. Willmer in The Choice:The Christ-Centered Pursuit of Kingdom Outcomes. They note:

“…defining success may be the most important decision we make as God’s people.”

QUESTIONS: So how is your “board in the boat” doing? Are you in alignment—moving, at the right cadence, in the right direction? Have you defined Kingdom outcomes? Are you measuring what matters?



This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.

This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.