April 25th, 2012
At the beginning of every board meeting, start with your mission. The mission is what the meeting is about, ultimately. I have experienced many meetings where the first item on the agenda was approval of minutes of previous meeting, followed immediately by the financials. This tends to generate much discussion, accompanied by a sobering mood descending on the gathering, leaving little time left to address the remaining agenda. The result of this dynamic is increased risk of lapsing into a permanent mode of “crisis fixing,” which in turn drains all positive energy even further (to the point that a board member dreads the upcoming meeting, instead of looking forward to it).
Better to focus the energy on the organization’s mission, by reviewing what has been accomplished in promoting that mission, and what could have been better in the efforts of promoting it (i.e., “we have done X in such and such way, and I think we could be more successful doing it this other way”). Then you follow with discussion of financials in light of the mission – that way, you are more likely to keep the spirit and sense of “we can do this” alive. The result is creative pro-action, rather than fearful, or even resigned, re-action.