Here is why the Chair needs to be responsible for the Agenda Prep.
One of the most important actions you can take with your board to improve performance is Agenda preparation.
I ‘get it’; Agenda prep may not be the most interesting of topics.
I have heard objections like ‘it sounds like an admin task’, and, ‘it will take time and anyway, our directors don’t usually respond to these kinds of email requests’.
Often the task is delegated to a staff person. But think about that for a moment – the board has delegated the agenda creation to someone without the authority to make organizational decisions? Is that a good idea really?
Your board is one where the directors care to see improvements in the organization, and so it starts at the board room table. And the best place to start is with the agenda. And the best person to start that, is the Chair.
As the Chair you need to see higher participation among the directors, so create the time to have a discussion about that.
As the Chair you want to gather thoughts about an external change that will affect the organization but never seem to have time to discuss it, so make time on the agenda.
Too often the agenda is created to facilitate the ‘nuts and bolts’ that have to get done. Approve the financials, hear the report from the such and such committee, review the budget (again), etc., etc.
My suggestion is to start with asking yourself – “how well is the organization doing?”
Then build the agenda with that in mind, in order:
- The strategic elements,
- Then add the nuts and bolts back in,
- And put the interesting conversations at the beginning of the meeting, when everyone is relatively fresh.
Once you start to do this you will discover that the nuts and bolts still get done (albeit with less conversation – that probably did not affect the outcome anyway!), and directors leave feeling like they actually had meaningful conversations.
This is real progress. You are setting your board’s culture.