The most precious resource in the world is not gold but something more valuable, time. As we all know, the time we have is fixed and very much finite. It is becoming even more precious and guarded by your volunteers and staff. How can we better manage this most precious resource in our organizations to make the biggest impact in relevance and value to our members?
Plan with Focus– Make it a priority to put in place a functional and practical strategic plan with timelines and performance measures. Without a plan, time is leaking like a sieve in your organization.
Excite and Engage– What makes a journey exciting? Imagine taking a trip on a bus with your board and not knowing the destination but driving hours and hours and hours to get there. Some people will hang in there to see where the bus (organization) is going but others will easily lose interest and head back home. The journey is only as exciting as the destination. Your board needs the vision of the destination in order to be excited and to give of their precious time to make the journey.
Cut Out Time Killers– Recognize when board discussions are devolving into tactical details. Always ask the question, “is this something the board should be doing or should it be delegated to a committee or task force?” Guard the time of the board to be as strategic as possible.
No Agenda, No Meeting– Every meeting needs an agenda as the roadmap for the discussion and actions that will take place. It should be time-based, address the strategic goals of the organization and keep the mission of the organization top of mind. Bad agendas, that allow a meeting to meander with no time allocation, are the best recipe to lose volunteers. Properly crafted agendas should make everyone feel as though they have contributed and accomplished something as both an individual and a group.
80% Rule– As we all know, people like to talk and this is no different on a board. Right at the beginning of any meeting, set the rule that if the board discussion item is 80% there (or complete),then the board can move on to another topic. Anything above 80% is wordsmithing and not good use of board time. For some organizations it may be 80% and other 90%; modulate this to suit your organizational culture.
“Two Ears and One Mouth”– Epictetus, a Greek Philosopher, once said, “we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” I would like to also add that we have two ears so we can hear both sides of the story. This is so important in saving time at meetings when board members are actually listening to understandrather than listening to respond. If we are listening to understand, we are making a conscious effort to focus only on the person and not the response to the person.
Return on Investment (ROI)– We do A LOT in our organizations and at times, it is a snowball effect with program after program being created but not evaluated. Saving time is identifying and eliminating programs that no longer suit our members but take away precious staff and volunteer time to administer. We recommend reviewing the ROI of your organization’s programs to determine what should be sunset or repurposed. This will then provide additional capacity to provide even greater value and relevance to your members.
Time is a resource that can’t be recovered and can’t be created. Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote, “Time flies over us, but leaves it shadow behind”. While writing this, I mused the meaning of this quote and it leads me back to the fact that time is finite and moves on with our without us. Eliminating distractions to achieve our goals in our organizations will leave more than a shadow behind to the people, professions and industries we impact. How will you keep an eye on time and stay ahead of the shadows?