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TOOL 15 Review – Board Retreat Trend-Spotting Exercise

By John Pearson

Ostrich or Eagle?

James Belasco writes, “You can never do enough looking over the wall to learn how to do things. Seeing excellence in action helps individuals visualize how they can do it for themselves.”

What’s the culture in your organization? Ostrich or eagle?

Ostrich: head-in-sand, oblivious to trends, no customer feedback, never hearing from God.

Eagle: big picture, soaring, searching, discerning, and selective.

TOOL #15: BOARD RETREAT TREND-SPOTTING EXERCISE

Use this trend-spotting template to generate insights and interaction on a key hot topic at your next retreat—each person presenting one article.

Tool #15 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of three tools in Part 4, “Taking Time for Strategic Planning,” in this jam-packed 272-page resource. The tool features a simple one-page template (and an example) for engaging every board member to present a trend on a key topic at your next board retreat.

Ironically, many CEOs wonder how to engage their board members at a deeper level—but then in the boardroom and at the annual board retreat, those same CEOs talk/talk/talk . . . and expect their bored board members to listen/listen/listen.

The solution? Try this trend-spotting exercise with five easy steps:

  1. Select a hot topic on trends. (Example: “Church or denominational trends that impact our work.”)

  2. Email a blank template and instructions to each board member.

  3. Ask each board member to find a relevant article on the hot topic from: a newspaper, magazine, TED Talk, blog, professional journal, or a niche chapter in a book.

  4. Each board member then shares the article and distributes copies of the article (see the example in the book).

  5. Each board member has EIGHT MINUTES MAXIMUM to share the hot topic.

For fun! Award a Chick-fil-A card if the board member is done before your iPhone alarm goes off.

This tool also reminds you to enjoy how each of the four social styles might do an eight-minute trend-spotting presentation. Drivers, of course, will present three memorable points and a bottom-line take-away (or task). Amiables, however, will likely use all eight minutes with a heart-warming story. Enjoy the diversity of your board members—and celebrate the God-designed uniqueness of each person!

Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. The book gives you full access to all 22 tools and templates—formatted as Word documents so you can customize the tools for your board’s unique uses.

BOARD DISCUSSION: How diligent are we in trend-spotting and then discerning God’s direction for major programmatic changes in our ministry’s work?

MORE RESOURCES: In his guest blog on “Think and Pray Outside the Box—and the County!” from Lesson 29 in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, David Curry reminds us that “The tyranny of the day-to-day—budgets, meetings, and yearly events to sustain life and keep the lights on—can overwhelm most leaders and sap our energy, leaving little that could be used to power a big, God-sized vision.”

 

This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.

 


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.

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