Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Agenda Clutter


I picked up a new term today—agenda clutter!

Ralph Enlow, president of the Association for Biblical Higher Education, used that descriptive malady in the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog—which launched today. He writes: 

“…I find that the fatal combination of passivity and agenda clutter conspires to crowd out efforts to walk the talk of continuous board development.”

Enlow is one of 40 guest bloggers (40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.) for the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and yours truly. Visit the blog here. Visit the book’s webpage here.

Enlow did not define agenda clutter—because we all know it when we see it, right? It looks like this:
   • Too many agenda items in too little time.
   • Too many staff members reporting on too many topics that have already been reported on in too many emails.
   • No prioritization of topics. Equal time allocated to A, B, and C priorities.
   • No “heavy lifting” on one key topic that engages the board—prayerfully and strategically. (See Lesson 36 in our new book, “Decrease Staff Reporting and Increase Heavy Lifting.”)
   • No time limits for agenda items.
   • No “meeting before the meeting” consultation between the CEO and the board chair. (See Lesson 5: “Before the Board Meeting: Collaborate, then wisely build the board meeting agenda.”)
   • No coaching of report givers—board, staff and consultants. (See the book recommended in Lesson 36, 15 Minutes Including Q&A: A Plan to Save the World From Lousy Presentations, by Joey Asher.)

Those are the first seven that popped into my mind, and like you, I can name more encumbrances that contribute to agenda clutter. 

But perhaps there is a deeper issue at play:
The same old/same old agenda template:
it’s faster to replicate last quarter’s agenda than to take time for prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to breathe new insights into this board gathering
on what-should-be holy ground.

In Bill Hybels’ book, Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul, he notes: “When we eradicate clutter from our lives, we create a vacuum that aches to be filled.” What might happen in your boardroom when you eliminate clutter?

BOARDROOM ASSIGNMENT: Invite an outside observer, or a board coach, to observe your next board meeting—and assess the level of agenda clutter. Ask: do our boardroom deliberations and decision-making/discernment practices align with our mission and the most effective stewardship of God’s work here?

Order: Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson (Download a sample chapter here.)

Read the Blog: Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog

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