The Art of Board Governance: Nurturing Growth from Seed to Harvest
Let us take a mindful journey together seeking growth and progress. Grounded by a mantra of three grounding breaths: inhale to embrace,
exhale to release. With each breath, we progress through the stages of board development, drawing inspiration from the cycles of a humble seed’s transformation (founding group) into a blooming flower (governing board).
Founding Groups/Boards: The Seedling Stage
Every endeavor has the potential to produce something extraordinary. A founding group is like a seed, a solitary pod soaked in the waters of possibilities. These courageous individuals come together for a purpose. Germination begins when the conditions are right—a symphony of cells developing, minds expanding, and individuals coming together. This group continues to meet to flesh out the idea, to determine who else is interested.
Yet, the tale of the founding group is one of caution and patience. Oftentimes, the rush to sprout prematurely can hinder growth. Just as a seedling requires nourishment and time to build resilience, so too does a founding group. This is a time for relationship building, getting a lay of the land, learning from those with blended ways of knowing (e.g. traditional ecological knowledge, research, lived experience). This additional information and expanded team capacity, the seeds can flourish, their ideas intertwining with the present and the past. Ready to move from founding group to working board.
Working Boards: The Growth Stage
Enter the growth stage—the era of roots digging deep and branches reaching high. Here, boards transform into thriving organisms, akin to plants producing stems, leaves, and branches. It’s a bustling time of expansion, fueled by diverse resources such as time, money, technology, and, above all, people.
But, like all growth, this stage is not without its challenges. What once worked as a seedling no longer suffices. As the board’s composition, structure, and resources solidify, the pace of growth mellows. Now is the time to infuse the board’s foundation with the nutrients of bylaws, retreats, leadership roles, and more. Growth may unfold in the shadows, but it’s within this stillness that transformation thrives.
Governing Board: The Reproductive Stage
As our journey progresses, we find ourselves in the realm of the governing board—the stage of thinking not just year to year, but generation to generation. Here, pollination and seed production are the order of the day, mirroring the intricate web of inter- and intra-organizational partnerships.
Regular evaluation and updates become the heartbeat of this stage, much like a gardener tending to the flowers. This is a time to embrace and release, as relationships are assessed and new perspectives emerge. A stage where vibrancy and maturity intertwine, propelling organizations forward.
From Harvest to Renewal: The Eternal Cycle
Finally, we stand at the threshold of the harvest stage—a stage reached by a fortunate few. It’s a realm of renewal, where the seeds of transformation are saved to start anew. Organizations that release the past and embrace change are the true pioneers, birthing a cycle of growth, understanding, and adaptation.
And in this dance of change and transformation, remember the wisdom of Octavia Butler: “All that you touch. You Change. All that you Change. Changes you. The only lasting truth is Change. God is Change.”
So, let us heed the lessons of the seed and the flower. Embrace the stages, honor the transitions, and nurture the cycle of change that defines our journeys. Inhale the wisdom of growth, exhale the fear of change, and watch as our boards flourish into remarkable gardens of transformation. Until next time, keep planting those seeds of change and embracing the ever-flowing cycle of growth.