Board meetings are the backbone of any association, shaping the course of our organizations' futures. However, all too often, these meetings can become stagnant and overly focused on routine matters.
To propel our associations forward and ensure we remain future-focused, we must rethink our agendas. These changes might not happen all at once, but with intention, you can create a future-focused board and set your organization up for success.
The Consent Calendar
One of the most effective changes you can make to your board meetings is the introduction of a consent calendar. This calendar groups routine, non-controversial items like previous meeting minutes and financial reports into a single agenda item. By doing so, you streamline discussions, allowing the board to approve these items in one quick motion.
You can't just have it on the agenda, you have to use it. Any report that does not have an action item or a discussion focused on the future should be on the consent calendar. Even if there is some contention in an item, if it is only about the past is it the best use of your meeting time to hear, discuss, or debate it?
Embrace Generative Discussion
To ensure your board meetings remain future-focused, encourage generative discussions.
These discussions go beyond operational details and delve into strategic, forward-thinking topics. Invite your board members to explore emerging trends, potential challenges, and innovative solutions. By fostering an environment of generative thinking, you can tap into the collective wisdom of your board to drive your association's vision forward.
Focus on Your Mission and Strategic Plan in Your Board Meeting
A critical step in maintaining a future-focused approach is keeping your association's mission and strategic plan front and center. Dedicate a portion of each board meeting to discuss how ongoing initiatives align with your mission and strategic goals.
This ongoing connection reinforces the importance of your long-term vision, ensuring that day-to-day decisions lead you toward your desired future.
Enhance Pre-Meeting Communication
Effective board meetings begin before the actual gathering. Improve pre-meeting communication to ensure board members come prepared and informed. Share relevant materials, including reports, updates, and agenda items, well in advance. Encourage board members to review these materials thoroughly, so they can contribute meaningfully to discussions and decision-making.
Assign Ownership to Action Items
An essential aspect of action-oriented board meetings is ensuring that decisions result in tangible outcomes. Assign ownership to action items and establish clear deadlines.
Board members and committee chairs should be responsible for following through on tasks, reporting progress, and bringing results back to future meetings. This level of accountability ensures that decisions lead to action and forward progress.
Guest Speaker Series to Keep Learning
Incorporate a guest speaker series into your board meetings to infuse fresh perspectives and insights. Invite experts, thought leaders, or professionals from related industries to share their experiences and knowledge.
These presentations can provide valuable context and inspire forward-thinking discussions among board members.
Regularly Evaluate Board Meeting Effectiveness
To continually improve your board meetings' impact, conduct regular evaluations. Seek feedback from board members on what's working and what could be enhanced. Use this input to make adjustments to your meeting structure, agendas, and processes to ensure they remain action-oriented and future-focused.
Using Your Agenda to Great a Future-Focused Board
Board meetings are a powerful platform for shaping the future of your association. By implementing these simple changes, including the use of a consent calendar, embracing generative discussions, focusing on your mission and strategic plan, enhancing pre-meeting communication, assigning ownership to action items, incorporating a guest speaker series, and regularly evaluating meeting effectiveness, you can transform your board meetings into action-oriented, future-focused powerhouses.
By doing so, you'll propel your association forward, ensuring it remains dynamic, responsive, and well-prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.