- Rotating Facilitator:
We all bring different styles and skills to the board. In order to learn from each other and to expand our skills, we decided to rotate the facilitation of our board meetings. If you are in the hot seat as facilitator, check out these mentoring tips on Art of Animating.
With our small board (5), we opted for 3 meetings per person in order to have consistency while not making the role of facilitation too burdensome. A larger board might rotate among its officers.
- Participatory Agenda Setting
Traditionally, one person prepares the agenda for the meeting. We have adopted a practice of participatory agenda setting. One week before the meeting, the facilitator invites all members of the board to add items to the agenda. We use a private Google document, which allows everyone access to modify the agenda with real time updates. A board member signs their name, indicates the topic, the amount of time needed, and (as needed) shares a link to any material to be reviewed in advance. The Friday before our meeting, the Agenda is “locked” and sent to all board members to review in advance of the meeting. (We meet via remote conference call so this message includes our meeting call details).
- Meeting Notes/Minutes
During our meetings, we use a shared Google document to take notes. We usually have two or three Board members contributing to note taking on the shared document. This allows everyone to participate in the discussion, because when someone jumps in to speak other people pick up the note taking. At the end of the meeting, we have a record of the meeting from which minutes can be easily drafted.
- Working Groups “Standing” Status Reports
We are a working board. We do most of our work between meetings in working groups, aka committees. We found that reports from the working groups were consuming our meeting, so we adopted a simple practice of “standing up” updates. Each working group gives a 2 minute update (timed by an alarm) to share wins/fails and/or next steps. These short reports work best when everyone stands during this part of the meeting. Standing keeps people sensitive to being long winded and supports the staccato pace of this part of the meeting.
If a working group would like to have the input of the full board on a thorny issue or a decision, then the working group signs up on the agenda for an extended time slot (5-20 min). As appropriate to the matter, the working group may prepare a document to brief the full board on the issue(s) in advance.
Board members bring diverse professional experiences to this service that often contribute new ways of working together. What best practices have you encountered?