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Innovation from Within: A Focus on Mission-driven Work

Posted By Brian Fewell, Friday, December 14, 2018
Updated: Friday, December 14, 2018

By Arzu Alimohd, Assistant Account Executive, and Paul Hanscom, CAE, Vice President of Growth Strategies

Paying close attention to the strategic plan can help a board or committee reach new goals.

It is easy for a board of directors, committee, or other governing body to fall into a cyclical work pattern year after year. Most organizations operate on an annual schedule that includes budget approval, nominations and elections, orientation, and other essential governance functions. When leaders are caught up in the cadence of addressing tactical governance practices, they run out of time and attention for important conversations about strategic-level goals, industry trends and innovative initiatives that have the potential to augment and perpetuate the organization’s value proposition.

Dynamic Agendas and Meeting Content
While a predictable meeting schedule is practical and efficient for a governing body, the agenda and content of the meeting must be made dynamic. Financial, status and year-end reports are important to ensure the overall stability and growth of an organization, and an innovative board will discuss each of these within the context of whether the activities being reported upon are aligned with and advancing the mission and vision of the organization. Those that succeed in staying focused on the strategy-level implications of the organization’s initiatives dedicate time to assess their efficiency and impact. This assessment can yield gains in both areas.

The Benefits of Introspection
Boards must be willing to remain flexible and adaptable to unforeseen circumstances (be they challenges or opportunities) as they may arise. The board of directors takes a high-level view of the organization’s overall role in relation to collaborative partners and industry trends. This makes it easy to become displaced from operations within the organization. It is rare and too-often perceived as cavalier for an individual or governing body to question the direction/need of a long-standing initiative or introduce something that is completely new or unproven. Innovative board leadership demands introspection about whether to create, continue, or eliminate initiatives that help, hinder or simply do nothing for the organization. This all starts and continues with effective and productive meetings.

Building in consistent time to review, analyze and discuss mission-driven goals will enhance the value of board meetings and, by extension, the organization’s leadership and relevance to the professionals it aims to serve. There are many ways to maintain strategic focus while monitoring and evaluating operational performance. Build a brief strategic plan review into every agenda. Invite a different committee leader to each board meeting to provide an update on progress and strategy alignment. Set aside time each meeting to articulate the connection between a specific initiative and a need the industry is facing; if board members cannot do this effectively in the insulated security of a board room, how can they be expected to do so as ambassadors of the organization when meeting with members in the professional community at large?

Conclusion
In the end, the organization and what it represents are what draw industry leaders and members together. Keeping this in focus throughout the year brings all the important activities of your organization together.

For more tips on how to build an exceptional board, download the 12 Principles of Governance that Power Exceptional Boards.

Arzu Alimohd joined Ewald Consulting in 2016 and is an Assistant Account Executive in our Association Management Department. She can be reached at arzua@ewald.com or at 651.290.7483.

Paul Hanscom, CAE, who joined Ewald Consulting in 2004, is Vice President of Growth Strategies. He can be reached at paulh@ewald.com or at 651.290.6274.

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