“How do we know a vital organization when we see one? I’m not sure how, but we do.” And so, one of my favorite writers, Max De Pree, begins a chapter* on the attributes of vital organizations.   Max ought to know. For many years he headed up the stellar Herman Miller office furniture company, and among numerous nonprofits, chaired the board at Fuller Seminary. I’ve come to know Max through secondary sources, his four leadership books and a friend of mine who has benefited greatly from a mentoring relationship with Max.

Anyway, I offer you his list, only as words and without explanations. I’ll let you work on their meaning in terms of organizations.

  • Trust
  • Access
  • Discipline
  • Accountability
  • Nourishment for Persons
  • Authenticity
  • Justice
  • Respect
  • Hope
  • Workable Unity
  • Tolerance
  • Simplicity
  • Beauty and Taste
  • Fidelity to a Mission

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll quote Max and offer my take on these attributes.

*Max De Pree, Leading Without Power: Finding Hope in Serving Community (1997, Jossey-Bass) pp. 99-113.

If you would like to get a better handle on governance, I simply offer a shameless plug for my book, Board Essentials: 12 Best Practices of Board Governance. A friend who chairs both a corporate and a nonprofit board suggests it as a great primer.

Board Essentials Book

And for more information visit

cropped-wordpress-header.jpgBoard Governance and Management Consulting

About Dave Coleman

Dave Coleman Principal / Consultant Phone: 253-237-4118 After many years of nonprofit leadership and the privilege of getting to know hundreds of organizations through my work with the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, I am pleased to offer my services to you at BoardTrek Nonprofit Consulting. Our small Pacific Northwest based company is focused on helping guide nonprofit organizations and their leaders into the future by offering our services in board governance, strategic planning, leadership development and organizational change. Always feel free to contact me with your thoughts and questions.
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