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PMA Book Review: The Director’s Manual

By: Patton McDowell

Insight on Effective Board Development

Local Charlotte authors Peter Browning and Will Sparks bring their considerable corporate and academic experience to The Director’s Manual. While the authors primarily target current and potential board members in the corporate sector, many of the principles they highlight are very relevant to the nonprofit sector as well.

Three Take-Aways:

1. Many nonprofit boards can certainly benefit from the authors’ emphasis on board culture and the group dynamics around decision making. Does your board really encourage constructive conflict or are they the victim of group think?

2. Assessing board performance. The book provides great insight on the actual mechanics of board mechanics and structure, and also has great suggestions for an effective board evaluation process, which many nonprofits fail to do.

3. Browning and Sparks certainly reinforce a rally cry I’m apt to lead in a board retreat myself, which is the building of an effective board nominating process, which they term a “Board Succession Plan”. From an assessment of current board demographics to the orientation of a new member, the book provides helpful tactics to build an effective board development practice.

Among the many practical take-aways in this book for the nonprofit professional are the insight into the mind of the corporate board member, which is often the perspective many of your nonprofit board members bring who come from that environment. Understanding this viewpoint will give you not only good ideas but even greater credibility as you interact with your board.


For more information about The Director’s Manual, click here.