Components of extraordinary governance: Building a board to achieve organizational success

The links to the entire framework of ten practices to help your board lead your organization to accomplish its mission.

We’ve all heard stories of dysfunctional nonprofit and government boards, and we could fill several pages with a list of the various problems they exhibit and subsequent organizational failures that result.

So, what makes a board’s governance extraordinary, and how can other boards apply those lessons to improve their performance and the performance of their organization? I’ve worked with boards and committees for over 30 years, 20 with Michigan State University Extension. My colleagues and I have taught a number of techniques to improve boards, so I was intrigued a few years ago when I began to study a particular governance “model”, designed to be implemented by a board to help it be more successful.

I introduced the “Components of Extraordinary Governance”, a framework for improving board governance, three years ago in the first of a four article series. You can find these articles posted on the Michigan State University Extension website. The website now contains an article or two on each of the individual components, providing a bit more explanation of each component, and some information to help your board achieve excellence in your governance.

Here is the full list, with links to the original articles presenting the components as a framework, and giving more detail on each of the individual “Components of Extraordinary Governance”.

Components of Extraordinary Governance: Background and development

                The first of a four article series introducing the 10 components

Take your board to a higher level of performance

                Reintroducing the components for the final articles on individual components

A clear, inspiring mission will help keep the organization ship on course

                Component 1 – “Mission focused actions and impacts”

Financial resources for extraordinary governance: Part 1

                Two part series on the second component – “Resources to accomplish the mission”

Extraordinary governance requires a strong partnership between board and staff: Part 1

                The third component – “Constructive partnership between board and staff with clearly defined roles”, a two part series

Monitoring and benchmarking performance to improve impact

                Component four – “Performance benchmarking and monitoring for both impacts and finances”

Extraordinary governance: The board as a body-Part One

                “The board as a body-a thoughtful, intentional plan to govern together” is component five.

Well written policy aligns actions with the mission

                Component six – “Informed policy guides actions that achieve goals”

Extraordinary governance and a culture of integrity: Part One

                Two part series on component seven – “Culture of accountability, transparency, and integrity”

Long term strategic thinking and mutual respect are keys to great board meetings: Part 1

                Two part series on component eight – “Great meetings”

How good can an organization be if the board isn’t reaching for excellence?

                Component nine – Culture of forward thinking excellence”

Extraordinary boards build strong partnerships with stakeholders: Part 1

                Two part series on component ten – “Responsive and accountable partnership with stakeholders"

I hope you find the “Components of Extraordinary Governance” useful for your board and organization, whatever type of organization it is. If you have questions about the components, or are interested in having a workshop or facilitated discussion about the components, please contact me at the email below for more information.

Michigan State University Extension provides, through the Government and Public Policy Team and the Center for Local Government Finance and Policy, educational programs for local government officials and citizens regarding many aspects of local and tribal governments in Michigan. Please contact the author at for more information on team programs and/or applying the Components of Extraordinary Governance to the work of your board.

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