What are your board meetings like? Are they exceptional?
What do you do at board meetings? Approve minutes or consent agendas? Review the monthly financial statements? Hear static reports from various committees about things that have already happened?
Are they strategic board meetings? Or does your board want constant explanations for budget line items?
Do you ever struggle to get a quorum at your board meetings?
How long do your meetings last? How often do you meet? Is there sound, strategic rational for those answers? When is the last time your board asked itself these questions?
Chances are, you can relate to at least some of the above. Maybe not. There ARE exceptional boards!
Why do so many nonprofits have board meetings like these? Why do board members bounce from board meeting to board meeting throughout the community and the week (the ones that serve on several boards), doing the same old activities at each one? How could YOURS be different? Exceptional?
What if your board meetings were really “Situation Room” meetings where you address what support your mission and strategy need next? Where you make course adjustments, test new ideas, mobilize the board and staff, and shape your story’s next chapter?
What if your board left every board meeting committed to an action, excited to be ambassadors, and less split on their community loyalties?
How might you reshape or reinvent your board meetings to do just that?
You can, but it requires a change in mindset, and TWO things must come together:
First, you must have a solid, dynamic, actionable strategic plan, based on the board’s real vision for the organization.
Second, you must make the strategic plan the CENTER OF EVERYTHING, including both staff and board meetings — ALL OF THE TIME. Much easier said than done, I know. But necessary if you want traction on your plan.
To accomplish this, you must view your strategy through 3 different lenses, and be able to switch lenses constantly.
The first two lenses: Your strategic plan needs an internal messaging platform and an external messaging platform. For example, the public doesn’t need to know that you are strategically positioning your reserve fund to be quickly responsive to emerging ideas. But they do need to know that you are looking to drive innovation in order to more effectively teach financial literacy to at-risk youth.
To constantly stoke your strategy (and support for it), you must have intentional communications platforms that are appropriate for each (internal and external).
The third lens is the operational lens. This is the lens through which your staff are most often looking. Their work must be aligned, and they must see and understand that alignment. This is the tactical lens, and without it, you’re taking blurry pictures.
If your board approves a weak strategic plan every five years, and then leaves it to the staff to keep it alive, it’s dead on arrival — even with a crack staff!
In order for both board and staff to execute on strategy, the right lenses must be applied, and they must align!
Honestly, most organizations view their work most frequently through the budget lens, rather than the strategy lens. This problem is compounded by the fact that those two (budget and strategy) are not even aligned with each other!
Make this shift, and your board will LOVE you for it!
That’s the Jinks Perspective!
1 thought on “A Better Board Meeting”
Great Advice Patrick! Thanks for sharing this important process!