Among the contentious issues that are faced by the boards we work with is the issue that can best be categorized by the question “Who is responsible?” As a response to the increase in the frequency of this question, we’ve developed a JCamp 180 board exercise on “Roles and Responsibilities”
that offers an answer. This exercise asks participants to assign responsibility to as many jobs as possible. The list of potential “owners” is broad, including Executive Director, Board Chair, the entire board, the executive committee, a particular board committee (e.g. personnel, finance, facilities), the committee chairs, department heads, or even individual staff members.
The goal of the exercise isn’t to find the definitive answer for who is responsible for each task (which include such diverse tasks as hiring, budget preparation, policy development and enforcement, parent interactions, and legal decisions) that is done by the camp; instead, the goal of this exercise is to build a language and basis for discussing the distribution of responsibility for goals that are yet to be identified.
In fact, as important as the exercise is in helping your leadership team determine who is responsible for each task, the exercise is even more important for helping your leadership team agree on whose job a task is NOT. Yes, that’s right, knowing what each person doesn’t
have a say in is sometimes more important than knowing the tasks for which they are responsible. The goal is to avoid the situation where a decision gets side-tracked at the 11th
hour by one or several board members who were not present for the initial discussion (or two) but believe they have the standing to have the board rethink, re-discuss and potentially reverse the recommendation by those who are responsible and accountable for the outcome.
If you agree that having a language and format for agreeing to roles and responsibilities will improve communications and help your board make progress in its goals, contact your JCamp 180 mentor and ask them to bring this exercise
to your next board meeting. It might just be the best 40 minutes your board spends this year.
Written by Mark P. Gold. Mark is the Director of JCamp 180. His focus areas at JCamp 180 include developing new Matching Grant programs, promoting Jewish Camp financial literacy, overseeing PJ Goes to Camp (part of One Happy Camper), and providing new professional development opportunities for Camp Lay Leadership and staff.
Who we are: JCamp 180 is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF). Our goal is to significantly enhance the long-term effectiveness of nonprofit Jewish camps in North America. To meet this goal, we provide affiliated Jewish camps with consulting services, annual conferences, shared resources, professional development, and matching grant opportunities. Find more at www.jcamp180.org