Nobody belongs to MANA. MANA belongs to you, its agent and manufacturer members. And because MANA belongs to you, it’s up to MANA to operate the association in your best interest.
The most obvious aspect of operating the association in your best interest is to be sure that your dues go toward the best programs and services we possibly can provide.
A more subtle aspect of operating the association in your best interest (and the subject of this editorial) is how MANA’s Board of Directors reviewed its own structure for maximum impact and productivity. For that task MANA’s Board turned for expertise to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).
In its book Race for Relevance, the ASAE research reveals that Boards with many Board members tend to be unwieldy and struggle to conduct their associations’ business. To break that gridlock, most large Boards then create a smaller Executive Committee that gets the associations’ business done but often marginalizes Board members who are not on the Executive Committee.
ASAE’s solution? Bring Board headcount down to a practical size that allows the Board to be productive — and then disband the Executive Committee. After careful review and consideration, MANA’s Board of Directors took this very remarkable step, voting to reduce its own headcount to seven members and to disband its Executive Committee. And to insure a regular influx of fresh insights and ideas, it also reduced Board members’ maximum service from two three-year terms to two two-year terms.
ASAE also recommends recruiting new Board members based on needed skills rather than solely on geographical districts. What’s the problem with recruiting Board members strictly based on geographical districts? Says ASAE: “If you pick a baseball team by zip code, you may end up with nine catchers.” It’s not a hypothetical situation — MANA once was forced to reject a strong Board candidate who was 50 miles on the wrong side of a district boundary. By Board vote, MANA’s Nominating Committee now gives strong consideration to maintaining geographical diversity, but a candidate’s skills now can outweigh being 50 miles outside a geographical district.
MANA often counsels representatives to work on their business, not just in their business. To operate MANA in your best interest, your MANA Board of Directors took that same advice to heart, strategically choosing to work on MANA’s governance, not just in MANA’s governance.
Interested in learning more about how Race for Relevance impacted MANA’s Board of Directors? Visit MANAonline.org/publications/race-for-relevance.
* Paraphrased from a quote from Jason Seiden, CEO at Brand Amper.