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Boards are another great fit for dialogue. They meet regularly with shared objectives. Members bring different backgrounds and experience to the conversation about governance, policies and direction forward.
But group dynamics, left unchecked, can affect the quality of discussion and impede good governance.
According to the seminal work by Chait, Ryan and Taylor, Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards, there are three governance modes: fiduciary, strategic, and generative.
Generative thinking, especially when it’s structured to allow good and innovative ideas to emerge, can be used to uncover issues on the horizon. And to seize upon opportunities.
Peter Dean writing in Wharton Magazine (February 26, 2015) suggests that boards can use generative thinking in various ways: Generate a large quantity of ideas to solve a single problem without judgment of the ideas until all the ideas have been posted. Generate a variety of ideas outside of logical, already established approaches. Generate focused and detailed improvement of one idea or solution.
“Conversation is the means by which people share and often create what they know. Therefore, the most important work in the new economy is creating conversations.”–Alan Webber, founder of Fast Company magazine and former editor of The Harvard Business Review