Invest 80% of your board work on future ministry opportunities—not rehashing the past.
THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 38, the authors note that it is a board’s responsibility to use its time wisely, ensuring that what is discussed in the board room will truly move the organization forward rather than simply spending board time describing what has happened in the past.
• “Redeem the time in every board meeting.”
• “The best church boards have a very strategic 80/20 rule: invest 80% of board work on the future; allocate only 20% of board work on the past.”
• “’Avoid Rearview Window Syndrome’…which is an exclusive focus on outcomes that only tell you where you’ve been.”
MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
Time may well be our most important commodity. Multiply the actual time spent in our board meetings by the number of board members present and we begin to get a sense of the true value (or cost) of our board meetings. What we choose to spend time discussing in our board meetings matters.
The easy default for most boards is to focus a majority of its attention on the past. It’s the time taken listening to reports that deal with past events and performance. Understanding where we have come from and what we have been doing is a critical responsibility of every board. Without understanding our history and most recent activities, we are doomed to repeat negative behaviors again and again.
Informed boards are clear about where their organization has come from and are not in the dark about what is happening right now. But allow me to let you in on a boardroom secret—few leaders long to be a part of a board that is simply well-informed. Rather, most leaders join boards with the hope of being a part of an effective board that moves beyond the past and the present—and into the future—in an attempt to move the organization forward.
It is only with great discipline on the part of each board member that effective boards learn from their history but then move in to the future in order to accomplish God’s vision for their organization. This requires reviewing lag indicators that tell about past performance. But more importantly, it also means being aware of lead indicators, which tell us where we are going in the future.
Unfortunately, my observation is that it is true—hindsight is 20/20—which is why board discussions tend to drift back to the past again and again. It is easier to speak with confidence about the past and what we should have done differently than to speak with confidence about what we might need to do as we move into the future.
Thus it is the responsibility of every board member to redeem the time in every board meeting—ensuring that time is spent moving the organization forward, not simply reliving the past.
THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY DAVID ASHCRAFT:
• Redeem board time by evaluating board discussions. If time is spent discussing information that could be written and read in reports before the meeting—then start writing and start reading and save board interactions for dreaming about the future.
• Implement a policy to not act on new ideas in the meeting when the new idea is first discussed. This defuses the “fear of the future” and ensures that ample time is given for personal reflection and God’s Spirit (and our spouses) to speak into that new idea.
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 38, “Leverage the 80/20 Rule in The Boardroom.”
• Inspire your board members to enrich their governance competencies at the final ECFA Excellence in Governance Forum (one of eight this fall): Nov. 12 in Atlanta.
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