Tuesday, January 21, 2020

TOOL 14 – The Rolling 3-Year Strategic Plan Placemat

He finally had time to work on the strategic plan.

7 Reasons Why Strategic Plans Fail


Read pages 4 and 5 in Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin, and you’re hooked (and convicted)! The authors list five ineffective ways that many leaders use when defining and addressing the strategy process:

   1) “They define strategy as vision.
   2) They define strategy as a plan.
   3) They deny that long-term (or even medium-term) strategy is possible.
   4) They define strategy as the optimization of the status quo.
   5) They define strategy as following best practices.”

How does your board define strategy? (Read my review.)

TOOL #14: THE ROLLING 3-YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN PLACEMAT
Roll-up your sleeves and gather the strategically-gifted board and senior staff around the table—and begin with this: “What is our strategy?” 


Tool #14 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 4, “Taking Time for Strategic Planning,” in this jam-packed 271-page resource. The tool features a simple one-page template (11” x 17”) and a process for creating and annually updating a rolling 3-year plan.

Many ministries have used a variety of strategic plan approaches (and reminder—one size doesn’t fit all). We appreciate “The Rolling 3-Year Strategic Plan Placemat” process first introduced to us by David Schmidt of Wise Planning.

But—warning! The strategic plan placemat is the final step, not the first step, in developing, discerning, and delivering a God-inspired strategic plan. As a first step, the tool includes a pop quiz to assess the readiness of the board and staff to begin a strategic planning process. There are at least seven reasons why strategic plans fail, including:
   • EVENT THINKING: Strategic planning is viewed as an event or a task, instead of a transformational ongoing year-round process.
   • INTERRUPTION: Strategic planning is seen as an “add-on” interruption and inconvenience to my “real work,” instead of becoming absolutely core to my role.
   • SACRED COWS: Strategic planning “economizes” by involving fewer and “safer” stakeholders who honor tradition, dead horses and sacred cows, versus out-of-the-box dangerous ideas!

Caution! Review all seven reasons why strategic planning might fail in your organization—before you launch! You may find that several key people (board and/or staff) have never experienced a healthy and effective strategic planning experience.

And this reminder from Ruth Haley Barton:
“Just because something is strategic
does not necessarily mean
it is God’s will for us right now.”


Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION: Is prayer or “pseudo prayer” part of our strategic planning process? “Pseudo prayer…gives a wink and a prayer to holy input, versus an extraordinary process of assembling spiritually discerning people together to hear from God—who then joyfully follow His plan.” 

MORE RESOURCES: In his guest blog, “Engage Board Members in Generative Thinking,” from the new book, More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, Bruce Johnson reminds board members that one of the three governance functions, generative thinking, is often ignored in the boardroom—and that’s unfortunate! Click here to read his blog—and how your board can use generative thinking to enrich your strategic planning process.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

TOOL 13 – Board Retreat Read-and-Reflect Worksheets


Deputize a “Leaders Are Readers Champion"


Dan Busby and I recommend that every ministry board deputize a “Leaders Are Readers Champion." Appoint one board member to keep the lifelong learning core value on the front burner. Provide a small budget so he or she can keep abreast of the latest trends and issues—especially through the books that board members need to read, listen to, or hear reports on.


As former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis recently wrote in his bestseller, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, “If you haven’t read hundreds of books, learning from others who went before you, you are functionally illiterate—you can’t coach and you can’t lead.”
  
TOOL #13: BOARD RETREAT READ-AND-REFLECT WORKSHEETS
Prior to your next board retreat, create a “Read-and-Reflect Worksheet” and inspire your board to read one governance book in preparation for your retreat. 


Tool #13 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 4, “Taking Time for Strategic Planning,” in this jam-packed 271-page resource. The tool recommends seven options for pre-reading assignments before your next board retreat.

How do you engage board members? First you need to define what you mean and want for “engagement.” (Too much engagement could lead to micro-managing!) Many boards, however, have inspired board members to all read the same book prior to the annual board retreat. This tool provides sample “Read-and-Reflect Worksheets” for seven books—and various engagement methodologies, such as asking each board member to share a 10-minute chapter review (five minutes of content and five minutes for discussion and next steps). The options:

Option 1: Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask, by Ram Charan (Read my review.) 
Option 2: Peter Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions: Enduring Wisdom for Today’s Leaders, by Peter F. Drucker, Frances Hesselbein, and Joan Snyder Kuhl (Read my review.) 
Option 3: Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board, by Max De Pree (Read my review.) 
Option 4: Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings (2nd Edition), by Dan Busby and John Pearson (See the 40 blog posts.) 
 Option 5: Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance (2nd Edition), by Dan Busby and John Pearson (Read my summary.) 
Option 6: More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: Effectiveness, Excellence, Elephants! by Dan Busby and John Pearson (Read my summary.) 
 Option 7: The Council: A Biblical Perspective on Board Governance, by Gary G. Hoag, Wesley K. Willmer, and Gregory J. Henson (Read my review.) 

For example in Tool #13, the one-page chapter review on page 154 lists four fill-in-the-blank reflection questions and discussion starters:
• My favorite quotation from the chapter
• My ONE BIG IDEA or take-away from this chapter
• Insight or implication for our board
• Question for groups-of-two discussions

Like many of the resources, Tool #13 is an “add-water-and-stir” package with many easy-to-use and boardroom-tested formats.


Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION: When was the last time our board read a governance book together—and made boardroom improvements as a result of our study? For more book options, check out this blog, “Best Board Books: Index to 18 Good Governance Stimulators.”

MORE RESOURCES: Kent Stroman notes, “As I’ve worked with and served on numerous boards, one observation has repeatedly smacked me in the face: Precious few of us have any formal preparation for the task we’ve accepted (serving on a governing board). No wonder there’s so much frustration with the work!” Read his thoughts on Lesson 38 in the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, “Great Boards Delegate Their Reading. Deputize a ‘Leaders Are Readers Champion.’”

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

TOOL 12 – Quarterly Board Meeting Agenda and Recommendations


Plan a Robust “Heavy Lifting” Segment at Every Board Meeting


What are the key elements of an effective agenda and board meeting? This tool lists four ingredients:

Advance Materials (arriving seven to 10 days before the meeting)
Advance Preparation (unexcused absences are rare—because thoughtful agendas signal why every meeting is important—and board member prep is thorough)
Balanced Content (relational and inspirational; good news and bad news; due diligence and faith-stretching; and much more)
Strengths Are Leveraged (the board chair and the CEO lead the board in leveraging everyone’s 3 Powerful S’s: Strengths, Social styles, and Spiritual gifts)

TOOL #12: QUARTERLY BOARD MEETING AGENDA AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Use this agenda template to signal the board, seven to 10 days in advance, that this board meeting is important—and their insights are needed.


Tool #12 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 3, “Reporting to the Board,” in this jam-packed 271-page resource. The tool suggests, as an example, how to conduct an “assumptions exercise” during the regular “Heavy Lifting” session of the board meeting.

If your standard board meeting agenda template arrived with the Mayflower, maybe it’s time to refresh your agenda and refresh your board’s engagement and impact. Ed McDowell, executive director of Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center, Stanwood, Wash., works with his board chair to allocate one to two hours at each quarterly board meeting for what they call “heavy lifting.” Here the board practices generative thinking and wrestles with a big ministry opportunity or dilemma.


This tool also references four strategic planning steps noted in Rumsfeld’s Rules, including “Step 2: Identify Your Key Assumptions.” In my experience, many strategic plans—approved by boards—miss this critical step. Donald Rumsfeld writes:

“The assumptions stage of strategic planning tends to be one of the most neglected. Assumptions are often left unstated, it being taken for granted that everyone around a table knows what they are, when frequently that is not the case. The assumptions that are hidden or held subconsciously are the ones that often get you into trouble.” He adds:
“It is possible to proceed perfectly logically from an inaccurate premise to an inaccurate and unfortunate conclusion.”

Experiment with a heavy-lifting hour on “assumptions.” Then ask your board for ideas on your next four board meetings as you plan robust “Heavy Lifting” segments at each meeting.

Include time, of course, for prayer, discernment, silence and solitude, and listening. Read Lesson 11: "Tap! Tap! Tap!" in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, because “the arms of your CEO may be weary.” Remember in Exodus 17:12 “how Aaron and Hur held up Moses’s hands, one on each side” until sunset. That’s heavy lifting!

Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION: Warm Beach Camp board vice chair Bob King suggests that boards “decrease staff reporting and increase heavy lifting.” (Click here for his guest blog.) He notes that better board agendas will eliminate wasted time and help you focus on heavy-lifting topics. How could our board better maximize our board meeting time—so we are more effective stewards of God’s work?

MORE RESOURCES: Do you have agenda clutter? Ralph Enlow, president of the Association for Biblical Higher Education, used that descriptive malady in his guest blog for the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog. 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.” Click here to read Enlow’s guest blog for Lesson 1.