Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Future Focused Agendas

First in a series of blogs about the April UUA Board Meeting

The phrase is heard extensively throughout the Policy Governance® consulting world:  board agendas should be primarily focused on the future, not the past.

A common number for "appropriate" future focus is 60% -- this is typically defined as ownership linkage (dialogue with the Board's Sources of Accountability and Authority), educating the board about Ends-related issues, environmental scanning, and actual Ends revision.   I did a quick scan of the April meeting (thoughtfully color-coded by our Moderator) and came up (conservatively) with just over 30% (see the paragraph below on how it could range as high as 70%).

You can argue with my methodology - for example, I lumped all the working group and committee meetings, along with the motions they brought to the full board,  into a category I called "board work".  Some of that (Finance?) would mostly be past, others (Linkage) would be future, so I suspect a finer analysis would be higher than 30% on the future.  Given that "board work" was a full 40% of the agenda, to the degree that this work fulfilled the definition of "future focused" above, the focus of the board ranged from 30-70%. 

Although my sense is that this was higher than usual, a quick look at past agendas suggests this is about where we have been for the past few years, due to special future-focused reports like ministerial credentialing, and outreach activities like Occupy Boston, or meeting with congregations.  And what is clearly shifting is the amount of time we spend on monitoring reports, with more of them going to the consent agenda (having been evaluated by trustees prior to the meeting) or with minimal need for discussion. 

So the next few weeks will include posts on the future, the past, and a lot in between, including the tone set in our first meeting by -- an olive branch. 

Next post:  Leaving Beacon Hill

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