If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it dozens of times at board meetings: “I just have a question.”
I observed it at a meeting this week. The offending director may or may not have realized what she was causing.
Without being recognized by the chair, she said, “I just have a question.” She followed her question with what seemed to be a personal opinion. For example, “Have we ever done it this way? I think if we change our approach and use new technology we will get better engagement.”
size of this board is 20 persons. As I listened to the question,
nine of the directors added their input, for example:
Directors have a duty to ask appropriate questions at the right time. But they should not hijack the meeting.
When a dog sees a squirrel it is natural to want to chase the animal. Directors sometimes act similarly. When something captures their attention they are quick to go down that path.
At this board meeting nearly half the board chased the squirrel until it ran up a tree. The conversation died a natural death and the board then looked at the chair as if wondering, “What’s next?”
The chair took an exasperated sign. It was time to get back to the work laid out by the meeting agenda.
Chasing squirrels is dangerous. It wastes time. People speak as if they have some insider information (“I know the answer.”) Allotted time for the agenda lapses.
It is human nature – or the nature of dogs – to chase squirrels. There are ways to curb the behavior.
requires discipline to not chase squirrels. Use these tips and
The board’s role is governance. Governance should address the future and be conducted at a high level. Chasing squirrels is a waste of time.
Bill Pawlucy, MPA, CAE, IOM, is founder of Association Options, Inc. a company that focuses on practical strategic planning (corporate and nonprofit), management assessments, Baldrige Award process implementation, AMC search and evaluation, facilitation, and governance modeling. He is also the executive director of the International Association of Interviewers and is an appointee to the U.S. Department of Commerce Board of Examiners for the Baldrige Presidential Award.