Back to school

David Ransburg
David Ransburg

I realize that kids have been back in school for a couple of months now, but I recently ran across something inspired by one school in particular, and that something has direct value for family businesses.

The KIPP Foundation was founded in 2000 with the purpose of creating “a respected, influential, and national network of public schools that are successful in helping students from educationally underserved communities develop the knowledge, skills, character and habits needed to succeed in college and the competitive world beyond.” Much has been written about KIPP, and their many successes are remarkable.

KIPP has many chapters, and each chapter is governed by its own board. KIPP’s Colorado board was recently provided guidance to help them understand which issues the board should deal with vs. those that are better left to those who manage the schools day-to-day. While specific issues were not delineated, the KIPP Foundation provided the following list of questions to help board members make their own decisions along these lines:

Governance Issues vs. Management Issues

  • Is the issue strategic?
  • Is it about the future?
  • Is it central to the mission?
  • Is a high‐level policy decision needed to resolve a problem or disagreement?
  • Is a significant change in firm performance, either positive or negative, in evidence?
  • Is the board’s performance dashboard signaling a need for greater attention?
  • Does the CEO want and need the board’s support?
  • Has a new risk factor for the firm become evident?

What other questions would you suggest to help family businesses in particular distinguish between governance issues and management issues?

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