Board Orientation

As the board of Creating the Future is becoming more established and is preparing to recruit additional candidates, we are starting to explore the role of orientation in this process. Providing new board members with a formal orientation prepares them to effectively contribute to the board from the very beginning. Orientation also helps existing board members refamiliarize themselves with the organization’s policies and tenets.

At the October board meeting, Creating the Future’s board had a wonderful conversation about creating an orientation to prepare new board members for immediate, effective participation. We started from the perspective of information sharing: what and how should Creating the Future communicate with new recruits about the role of the board, expectations of board members and the board as a whole, and the culture of the organization?

Board members then started to talk about the importance of relationships. In our experience with other organizations, relationships among board members are typically highly professionalized and there are few opportunities to get to truly know each other in a meaningful way. One board member also suggested a buddy system that would connect new board members with an existing member for support.

It was at that point that the discussion completely shifted gears. Instead of orientation being solely about teaching new board members, what if we also focused on what we might learn from new board members? Each new board member will have a wealth of experience and wisdom. Opening up to new board members might also mean opening up to their ideas about how to do things differently.  How can new board members ask questions during orientation that will help us, as an exploratory board, more fully articulate Creating the Future’s culture?

This led to the big question: should orientation be generic or individualized for each board member—or both? For orientation to be open and available to everyone, it would need to be generic. But would a generic orientation meet the needs of new board members and the organization?   

  1. What does conducting a standardized board orientation make possible? What does offering an individualized board orientation make possible?
  2. How might board candidates be actively involved in crafting the orientation process? Why?
  3. What is the highest potential impact of formally orienting new board members? What does providing a board orientation make possible for new and existing board members and for the board as a whole?
  4. What questions are we not asking that we should be asking? What questions would lead us to a different way of thinking about this? What assumptions will lead us to the most effective resolution of this issue, so we can accomplish our mission?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.