Visit thousands of board meetings and the agendas look about the same. Most start with a call to order, review of past meeting minutes, a financial report and transition to reports and updates. The average number of reports to listen or read seem to be 17.
Listening to reports is not the purpose of a board meeting or good governance. A board of directors is assembled to advance a mission or cause, serve constituents and to provide innovative solutions. The format of most agendas wastes board time and produce minimal impact. In fact, as we engage the next generation, it is even more important to make them more engaging. SuccessfulMeetings.com made this comments around the next generation at meetings, “Have you noticed that younger people in meetings are more likely to be on their laptops than listening to your PowerPoint? Don’t blame them–blame the meeting.”
It is OK to make adjustments to a typical meeting agenda. It may start with a discuss between chief elected officer and chief staff officer. “How can we improve the meetings and their outcomes?”
Brainstorm on ways to craft a more effective agenda for a unique meeting experience.
Room Set-Up – Not all board work has to be at a table set up at an open-U. Look at alternate sets-ups that inspire small groups to tackle problems and develop solutions. Make best use of the talents of those assembled. Also, create the agenda so it is built in chunks from group discussion to solution groups to brainstorming pairs utilizing the room set up.
Virtual Participation – Allow those that can’t participate due to distance or time restrictions the options of participating virtually. It is as easy as someone using FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp or other tool to log into the meeting. Not only should they log in, someone present in the room should serve as their avatar listening to their questions and making sure they are able to participate fully.
Consent Agenda – Reduce reports…….come prepared by reading.
Materials – Make the Board packet less of a packet and an engaging, bite-size information resource with links to supporting information. Presentations at the Board don’t have to be boring but can be spiced up using the latest technologies and not a bunch of words on a slide that someone will read verbatim.
Environmental Scan – Start meetings with a timed discussion (10 to 15 minutes) on what new influences are on the organization. Discuss critical issues facing the profession or industry, facing the organization, what are visible trends impacting the way your organization does business, etc. The purpose is to elevate the Board’s thinking right in the beginning so they stay at that elevated level throughout the meeting.
Mission Moment – Make time to discuss how the organization has delivered on its purpose. Improved standards, more scholarships, enhanced capabilities? Discuss what truly has been a return on missionfor the organization.
Blue Sky – Allow for “blue sky” thinking on the agenda by asking a question that goes to the core of the organization. For example, “given the rise in virtual and augmented reality, will we be left behind or will we be a trailblazer?”
Strategic Goals – Include the goals right on the agenda and make them the basis of every meeting. Discussion is then laser-focused on the goals and driving the strategic plan forward. Keeps the meeting on track and high level.