Dani Robbins

Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

What Went Right?

In Leadership, Organizational Development on December 17, 2012 at 10:02 am

I am devastated by the killings in Newtown CT, and the number of children and educators who were killed; the fact that a mass killing happened again, and so soon after the last one; the fact that we seemingly have no capacity to protect ourselves or our children.
There is one small sliver of hope in this tragedy. There was an obvious plan in place: the staff were trained; they had prepared for this possible reality, as horrific as it was, and they knew what to do.
Whenever there is a tragedy of this magnitude, or even tragedies of much smaller magnitudes, I always try to find the good.
What went right?
Teachers knew to hide the children in their classrooms, and they knew how and where.
The students knew to be quiet and to listen.
Someone told the children to “close their eyes and run.” I cry even as I write it, but imagine the forethought required to remember in the midst of terror, that we still have an obligation to protect children, at whatever level we can, and those children will be better because while they heard the bullets and knew the fear, they didn’t seen the carnage.
We all like to think that it couldn’t happen here. I’m sure the people of Newton CT (and Chardon OH) thought the same thing. It’s what I’d like to believe as well. But like them, I know that while I hope and pray it won’t, I need a crisis management plan for my organization in case it does. And like all plans that work when you need them to, the plan needs to include training and instructions for staff, children and visitors, a risk mitigation review and a building assessment. It needs to be taught, practiced, and reinforced, and things that came up during the year that shouldn’t have happened need to be discussed to ensure they don’t next time. Everybody needs to know the plan and their role in securing the building and protecting lives.
Planning and preparation won’t necessarily save us, but if evil comes to our corner of the world, it will help to minimize the loss, as it did in both Chardon and Newtown.
As always, I welcome your comments and experience.

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Board Evaluations

In Non Profit Boards on December 4, 2012 at 8:06 am

It’s the end of the year which always seems like a good time to take stock. Did I meet my obligations? Did I rise to the occasion? Did I do what I said I would? Have I become what I aspired to be? Am I living an authentic life?

For me, an authentic life includes service. So while I take stock of myself, I also take stock of my Boards, the ones I serve, serve on, volunteer for or am paid by. I encourage an annual Board evaluation process.

The vast majority of Boards do not evaluate themselves. It’s not the norm. I’m not sure why but it makes people uncomfortable. Yet…Board evaluations are not intended to be report cards; they’re intended to be opportunities for development, reflection and growth.

I’ve seen evaluations done a few different ways, and there is no right way. The following two options seem to be the most prevalent; I’ve also seen anything and everything in between. The only wrong (and career terminal) way to evaluate a Board is for the Exec to do it or to not do it at all. Two options:

1. Turn the Board expectations into a self-evaluation form and allow members to rate themselves on a scale of 1-4. If you’d like to take it a bit further, include at the bottom a space to allow them 3 opportunities to commit to (and hold themselves to) future growth; or hand it in to the Board Development committee who can hold Board members individually accountable.

2. Have the Board Development Committee assess each member individually against the Board expectations, including committee and meeting attendance, giving, event participation, introducing and soliciting new donors, and ambassadorship in the community.

I also encourage you to survey your Board members to determine their opinion of Board process and enjoyment of strategic and generative discussions. It’s not enough for them to assess themselves individually, it’s also imperative that the entire Board systems are evaluated and improved or evolved, as necessary and appropriate.

Please note it is the responsibility of the Board Development Committee to ensure evaluations are completed, not the Executive Director. The Exec can encourage the process and can write the evaluation form, but cannot evaluate the Board members to whom he reports. The Board must evaluate itself.

We can all do better. We can all be more. We serve because we believe in the potential of our organization, our communities and our own ability to affect change.

Take stock, you might like what you find; if you don’t, the New Year is a great time to start building new systems toward a stronger future.

What’s been your experience? As always, I welcome your experience and insight.

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