Resources for working with Boards

Consulting on strategy is not a “one size fits all” event. It is not even “one size fits most”. Each organization is different, with unique sets of customers, stakeholders, issues and players. That said, there are three different levels in an organization I have helped with strategy. They are:
(1)  Senior leadership. In some organizations they are called the “C-Suite”. Elsewhere I have seen them called “The Board”. Regardless of nomenclature, they are responsible for the strategic level of the organization.
(2)  “Middle management”. This also has different names in different organizations. They may be called managers or directors. They are responsible for the day-to-day execution of initiatives – the operational level of the organization.
(3)  “Front line workers”. They are responsible for the tactical activities of the organization.
This is an annotated list of books that have been valuable resources as I work with boards of NGOs and ministries. It is a group that is considered “Senior Leadership” in the above list. I include my recommendation of where each book would be most helpful.
Boardroom Confidence by Bobb Biehl and Ted Engstrom (available at his web site
I have used Bobb Biehl’s Boardroom Confidence – worn out several copies actually – since I first read it nearly 25 years ago. It is in its 8th printing and full of adaptable examples. It is familiar to me and reinforces key principles that I emphasize.
Use it when… you want to train the board.
Nonprofit Board Answer Book by Robert Andringa and Ted W. Engstrom.
Andringa has done a lot of VERY good work in this area. He wrote an article in “Christian Management Review” several years ago and I adapted it for use in consulting with churches and NGOs. That made me search out other things he authored and this book is exceptional. It is “FAQs” on all aspects of a board. I found it useful in thinking through the roles and responsibilities in a conflicted board. The questions helped me clarify the issues.
Use it when… you want to diagnose issues a board is wrestling with regularly.
Boards That Make a Difference: A New Design for Leadership in Nonprofit and Public Organizations by John Carver.
This is a Jossey-Bass publication and has a little more “academic” flavor but definitely a worthwhile read. If you have a large organization with a mature board model, this is the one I would recommend.
Use it when… you want to move the board to the next level.
Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards by Richard P. Chalt, William P. Ryan and Barbara E. Taylor.
Use it when… your board is prone to micromanagement.
Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board by Max DePree.
I have to admit to a Max DePree bias. I was hooked after reading his first book, Leadership Is an Art.
Use it when… your board is all-volunteer.
If you cannot find the Andringa article email me ( and I will send you a copy of the “Board Best Practices Checklist” I adapted from the Andringa article. It is a great place to start the discussion. Every time I consult with a board, I am grateful for the practicality of his work.
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2 Responses to Resources for working with Boards

  1. Candace says:

    Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe
    guest writing a blog post or vice-versa? My blog addresses
    a lot of the same subjects as yours and I think we could
    greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you! Excellent blog by the way!

    • daparson says:

      Candace – My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. Medical/family issues have kept me away from the blog for a while. I’d LOVE to do a guest blog for you and have you post on Brass Ring Strategy. My email is

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