Friday, June 29, 2018

Try “Stoppage Time” at Your Next Board Meeting

The 2018 World Cup has captivated my mornings over the last two weeks and I’m not even a soccer guy (or should I say “football” guy—for my friends outside the U.S.). 

One quick note, while I can still utter this: “Go Sweden!” (As of today, Sweden is one of 16 teams in the knockout stage which starts on June 30. Win or go home.)

If you’re a soccer neophyte like me, you’ve appreciated the fast-moving game and the absence of TV commercials, time-outs, or interruptions in either half (45 minutes each). The reason: stoppage time. But then—try to explain “stoppage time” to your spouse or water cooler colleagues. 

Google “stoppage time in soccer” and you’ll gain some insight. “Because there's no time allotted for…commercials and the advertising fare that clogs up most American sports broadcasts, soccer games consist of 90 straight minutes of unfettered gameplay. But, that gameplay is almost always interrupted by injuries, substitutions, and the occasional rogue pitch invader. That means, to account for the unforeseen stoppages in play, a few minutes are added at the end of each half. Longer stretches are usually tacked on to the end of the game, typically resulting in an extra three or four minutes on top of the standard 90.”

That got me thinking. What if your board chair instituted stoppage time at your next board meeting? “Well, it’s 5 p.m., and time to adjourn, but I’ve tracked stoppage time and I’m adding on another 23 minutes because…”
   • “Frank, you took us down a very unproductive back alley when you went from policy issues to operations. Your in-the-weeds side trip wasted seven minutes.”
   • “Maria, I clocked your point of order at 10 minutes. Your question was helpful, but then Kim, Cameron, and Angela all piled on with unnecessary speeches and nothing was resolved.”
   • “Steve, as our CEO, you give us great leadership. But next time, please coach your VP so she stops reading her reports to the board. We had all read the report before the meeting, so that six-minute rendition was unnecessary.”

“So, board members, I’ll use the next 23 minutes to help us focus on our agreed-upon top priority this year—the XYZ Project. Meet in groups of two or three for eight minutes and then report back on the discussion question written on our white board.”

I know. I know. This might cross the line from good governance to picky governance. But…you get the point. Ephesians 5:15-16 reads, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (NASB).

Named by ESPN as the Greatest Coach of the Twentieth Century, UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden said it simply, “Time lost is time lost. It’s gone forever.”

BOARD DISCUSSION: At the end of your next board meeting, read this tongue-in-check blog to the board and then ask for feedback. Did we steward our time well today? How did we measure up to John Wesley’s aspiration? "I value all things only by the price they shall gain in eternity."

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here.

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