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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

LESSON 5 - Before the Board Meeting

Welcome to Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Ed McDowell is our guest blogger this week for the second of four lessons in "Part 2: Boardroom Tools, Templates, and Typos."

LESSON 5 OF 40 - Before the Board Meeting
Collaborate, then wisely build the board meeting agenda.

 In Lesson 5, the underlying truth is that intentional and timely planning and collaboration between the board chair and CEO positions the board for maximum effectiveness. 

The better the collaboration and planning, the healthier the governance process and outcomes will be. As chair and CEO, think it through ahead of time. Give staff, task forces, and committees plenty of time to be prepared by making an agenda available with enough lead time.  

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 5, pages 21-25: 
 “Allow for reconnection” has great value.  Remember the board is a spiritual community gathered to govern a piece of God’s Kingdom. Connection with each other is a high priority.  
“Provide time for heavy lifting” is an important concept in agenda planning. Make sure the most important discussion and issues on the agenda get the best time and energy of the board meeting. 
“…bathe the agenda in prayer to allow the Holy Spirit to guide the board members during the meeting.” The agenda is the board chair’s and CEO’s discerning process for aligning with God, His purposes, His will.  Spend time in prayer that prepares the entire board for alignment with God and His intentions for the ministry.  

While a board agenda may seem mundane, it is the planning platform for Kingdom-based governance results. 

I currently serve in both the role of CEO and board chair for different ministries. Here’s what I have found—if the relationship between the two cultivates trust, it creates a conduit for effective planning and results.  

In preparing a good agenda, it is good for the CEO to bring to the board chair any updates on action items from previous meetings. Generative thinking together can also aid in the planning of a good agenda.  

Underlying this foundational collaboration is a relationship of mutual trust and spiritual integrity. It is the foundation on which good planning is built.


Ed McDowell is the CEO of Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center in Stanwood, Wash.  He also leads Thriving Boards, a board coaching initiative of the Christian Camp and Conference Association. Ed also does consulting with a special focus on board development and problem-solving with fresh perspectives. He and his wife, Bev, live in Stanwood, Wash., where they enjoy their family. 

• Do a one-question survey of the board via email:  On a scale of 1-5 (5 is very effective), “How effectively did we use your time in the recent board meeting?”
• Set up a planning session between the board chair and CEO regarding the agenda for the next board meeting.  


On Dec. 27, 2017, watch for Pat Clement's commentary on Lesson 6, "Eliminate Hallway Whining. The 5/15 report to the board takes just five minutes to read and 15 minutes to write."

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for highlighting the merits of collaboration between the board and the CEO! Too often they have an adversarial relationship which inhibits organizational achievement. Taking the time to cultivate a trusting, respectful relationships goes along way to achieving meaningful mission impact.