Wednesday, April 15, 2020

LESSON 15 – Be Intentional About Your First 30 Minutes

Welcome to More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. David Schmidt is our guest blogger this week for the third of four lessons in "Part 4: Epiphanies in the Boardroom.” And during this COVID-19 crisis, the role of the board becomes even more critical. We pray that your board will have God-honoring wisdom as you spiritually discern next steps.
LESSON 15 OF 40 - Be Intentional About Your First 30 Minutes
Does your board meeting need a refresh—so you experience holy moments more frequently?

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 15, the authors note that what happens at the very beginning of our board meetings—sets the tone. I’ve been in scores of meetings where the chairs or leaders seemed almost superstitious—nervous if they didn’t say something spiritual or “bathe our meeting in prayer” at the start.  

Frankly what members really want—and what God invites us to—is to be real. If being intentional is important, then so is this: Be authentic. Everyone can smell a hastily prepared intro. Board members will know if the chair or leader’s opening, with some devotional or prayer, lacks energy or relevancy. 

Instead think of these first 30 minutes as “entering into” new and sacred space, knowing God’s Spirit is already there. Then plan and deliver a great start to your meeting that sets a tone of authenticity, peace and creativity. If beginning with a prayer time is part of your intentional plan, then pray. If not, thank God for His presence and get to work.   

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 15, pages 86-90:
• “How many holy moments can you recall from last year’s board meetings?”
• The insights from the book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, The Power of Moments: “With examples from education, business, hospitality, and church sectors, they call leaders and teams to break out of the routine and defy ‘the forgettable flatness of everyday work and life by creating a few precious moments.’”

• Be on time.  Better—be early. We all need the margin anyway that being there 10-15 minutes early gives us.

It’s likely—during this challenging COVID-19 crisis—that you’re having more, not less meetings and most of those by video/Zoom as well. Keeping these meetings moving—no more than an hour or so (call another meeting if needed) and guided by an agenda (sent ahead or posted at the start)—will help to take the slack and sloppiness out of these video conference meetings.  

But more meetings need not mean more meetings falling on your shoulders as leader or chair. The issues and pace we are running at right now leaves our tanks on or near empty. Another board meeting already? You can’t do it all and unless you have an essential message or idea to start with, give the mic to a younger leader or a different person on a regular basis.  

You will have plenty of opportunity in the meeting to make your points or provide needed governance or leadership. Drop everyone an email (before or after the meeting) if you have a spiritual insight you want to share and time doesn’t permit you to do so in the meeting. When tapping others, give them clear guidance on length, out-of-bounds topics, the need to be real, free from rote prayers or piety—and trust God with the outcome. 

I liked the idea of a self-imposed “report card” concept. Conducting this at every board meeting might be a bit much—but at every few board meetings, do the checkup. The feedback will make your future meetings better.  

“How you launch will impact how you land.” Good counsel especially when the needed outcomes of our board meetings these days are so important.


DAVID SCHMIDT is the leader of J. David Schmidt & Associates.  David uses strategic conversation processes to help organizations experience increased focus, impact, and results. With more than 40 years of experience in assessment, research, strategic thinking, off-site leadership retreats, and guided processes, he notes, “We aren’t a very good fit for leaders and organizations that simply want ‘another good year.’ But we are a good fit with leaders looking to explore, rethink, and reset their organization’s strategic intent.”

David and his wife, Melinda, live in Wheaton, Ill., and their two adult children live in Colorado and Southern California. David is the author of dozens of research projects and co-author with Wesley K. Willmer and Martyn Smith of The Prospering Parachurch: Enlarging the Boundaries of God's Kingdom.

• Read The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.
• Instead of a hastily prepared devotional thought to launch your board meeting, be intentional about inviting a board member (or a staff member) to share a spiritual insight that will be relevant (not random) to the focus of the board meeting.
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 15, "Be Intentional About Your First 30 Minutes.”

April 22, 2020, watch for the commentary by Max Wilkins on Lesson 16, “Looking for Consensus but Finding Division. Finding consensus on challenging issues requires deft handling and a flexible approach by the board chair.”

BULK ORDERS: Click here. For more resources and to download the book's Table of Contents, visit the book's webpage.

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