Friday, February 24, 2017

Called to Serve: The Bell Curve of a Board Meeting

Note: This is No. 7 in a series of blogs featuring wisdom from the 91-page gem by Max De Pree, Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board. (Click on the title to order the book for every board member.)

Max De Pree: “I have found it very helpful to think about designing an agenda by following the lines of a bell curve.” 

He adds, “At the top of the curve (that’s my shorthand for the way energy at board meetings starts out slowly, then rises, then declines) for regular board meetings we will want to focus on the future and plan time to be thorough.”

Do your critical agenda items align with the prime energy spurts in your board meeting? At the top of the bell curve, De Pree suggests you focus on:
   • Strategic plans and the potential for achieving stated goals and results
   • Significant issues
   • Vexing problems
   • What the board has agreed to measure
   • Key appointments and promotions (“because these people are our future”)

On being “thorough,” De Pree notes that the following agenda items should never occur at the bottom of the bell curve—and should never be delegated to committees:
   • Time to dream together
   • Time to ask questions
   • Time to scrutinize
   • Time to voice contrary opinions

Where would your board place prayer and discernment on your bell curve? (My confession: for a board I chair, I recently moved our substantial prayer time to the end of the meeting—due to extenuating circumstances. Yet—big surprise!—when we arrived at the end of the meeting, time had evaporated and we missed the opportunity to seek God’s wisdom together.)

At our next meeting, I’m bringing a graphic of a “bell curve” to remind me to leverage the best energy for our most critical agenda topics (including prayer).

BOARDROOM EXERCISE: At your next meeting, ask one board member to observe and plot the bell curve for the entire board meeting—and then share an end-of-the-meeting analysis if the most critical agenda items were discerned at the top of the bell curve.

To order from Amazon, click on the title for: Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board, by Max De Pree, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company).

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