Do you sometimes feel that your Board meetings are a waste of time?
Join the club.
Board meetings are often viewed by participants as necessary evils, perfunctory, and filled with “blah, blah, blah” reports.
Here are some ideas to make your Board meeting more strategic, engaging, and worthwhile.
*First, make sure that you have a Strategy for the future! The Strategy should include three-five specific, outcome-based goals that the organization wants to accomplish during the next three-five years. If you do not have these, then call a time out. Either add these to your current strategic plan or start a new process that includes these.
*Next, establish a norm of a strong committee system in which:
1.) committees submit reports in writing to the Board prior to the meeting,
2.) Board members are expected to fully read the reports so they do not need to be summarized at meetings,
3.) non-controversial action items are provided as part of a “consent agenda” that can be approved at the beginning of the meeting,
4.) committees bring action items on substantive issues for consideration to the Board. Committees should generally include Finance, Governance, Philanthropy, and an Executive Committee.
*Strategy updates make up the bulk of the meeting. The CEO should provide a report that includes updates on:
1.) results on outcomes (not activities) on each of the strategic goals, along with a report on what is being done to get the outcomes back on track if they are not meeting their milestones,
2.) any internal operational issues that may impact the implementation of the strategy (i.e., new strengths or weaknesses),
3.) any changes in the external environment that may impact the implementation of the strategy (i.e., new opportunities or threats),
4.) any action on strategic issues required by the Board.
*Keep expectations and roles clear. The staff does staff work, committees do committee work, and the Board does Board work.
For more great ideas on developing an effective Board and running impactful Board meetings, check out these resources from BoardSource.
It takes some effort to develop a Board’s norms to this level, but it will pay real dividends. A strategically focused, engaged Board can greatly enhance your organization’s Mission Impact.