Making the Meeting Matter
One of the major new challenges I’ve taken on this year is chairing the board with Absolute.org (one of our strategic partners). Having been on boards of a few organizations before, and with a sudden need for someone to accept the chair, I agreed to the role in February. It hasn’t been an easy time for Absolute. In addition to the regular financial challenges so many nonprofits face; we’ve had an extended leave from a key leader, a need to significantly improve our donor relations, and a relatively small and inexperienced board trying to learn how to properly fulfill our responsibilities to the organization. It has been a stretch for everyone involved. One of the things I’ve been focused on is clearly identifying and enacting a more strategic role for the board to play within the full operation of Absolute. Having a strong, entrepreneurial, founder leading has historically allowed us to be more passive than we should have been (an entirely common situation that I’ve seen many times in other organizations). I’ve relied heavily on Jim Brown’s book The Imperfect Board Member and his company’s regular emails to guide the process (along with some key insights from Bob Andringa‘s Good Governance for Nonprofits). This week I am preparing for what I think will be a strategically critical meeting. We have some matters on the table that are certain to have a multi-year impact on our direction (which is exactly where a board should be working). Believing this meeting matters so much I’ve been pouring over both a very helpful article from Jim Brown’s team at Strive and reading through Patrick Lencioni’s bestseller Death By Meeting. It is my responsibility as board chair to ensure that this week’s meeting is engaging to everyone involved, uses our time effectively, and results in decisions that put the organization’s Values, Vision, and Mission at the forefront. I’ve been a part of way too many board and leadership meetings that resulted in nothing of real value. This organization (and probably the ones you are involved in) and the people participating are much to valuable for this to be one of those.