Ego is prevalent in leadership, and nonprofit boards are no exception. While some directors are more than ready to jump in and execute on historically documented vision, others believe it imperative to ‘improve’ or ‘change’ the status quo – even if it’s working – so they can go away with an imagined feather in their cap. As a result, board members are subjected to an endless stream of document review, planning sessions, and discussion surrounding the nonprofit’s infrastructure, vision, or mission – with little actually getting done. This is also a tactic used by board members who knew they signed up for a working board environment, but have decided along the way they don’t want to roll up their sleeves. Directors exhausted by this time-consuming exercise no longer have the desire to participate, and forward movement is stunted.
The next time you decide to dazzle the board by taking a page from the Arthur Andersen playbook*, think again. Does your information really deliver the substance of the lofty subject matter it portends to explore? Or, does it instead represent a comparatively minor dent in the organisation’s oeuvre?
There is no doubt new board members can be a great asset by introducing new ideas and tweaking old assumptions. However, a constantly changing landscape can be as destructive as arteriosclerotic bureaucracy, and ultimately, too much navel-gazing can lead to running in place. Balance must be struck between meaningful input and analysis paralysis, or nitpicking which merely rearranges the deck chairs without providing much that is comparatively new, inspiring, or relevant to the entity’s bottom line.
--From "How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Nonprofit Hell"