Light at the end of the pandemic tunnel…now what?

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My board wants to do a strategic plan in four hours. Is that possible?

A few weeks back, a prospective client sent me this question. And with the answer no one wants to hear, I replied, “it depends.” Truth is, this question comes up again and again.

There are three dynamics I’ve found that cause leaders to want to dive into “strategic planning” mode in short order:

  • Board and Staff are not in sync, and there’s tension at
    every board meeting.
  • The organization is healthy from a management standpoint but lacks vision and direction for the long haul. This has been particularly challenging during the pandemic.
  • The tyranny of the present makes EVERYTHING important;
    thus, nothing is.

Underlying each of these dynamics is the need for leaders to build a strategic-thinking habit. A great place to start is with the mundane.

Dun-dun-dun…the regular board meeting. Here is a quick-fix remedy that produces nearly immediate results, helping the board stay at a strategic level in their thinking and governance.

Redesign the board meeting agenda

The 10-20-60-10 Formula

We find this formula reliable and effective. 10-20-60-10. Reallocate your time into these chunks and let the magic happen. Let’s assume a one-hour board meeting (60 minutes).

10%  (or six minutes) focused on administrative stuff – think roll call, quorum, minutes, and mission moment. It’s always good to get those good mission vibes going right at the start. It reminds us all WHY we said YES!

20% (or 12 minutes) focused on organizational performance – think financial dashboard, CEO perspective, progress against goals.

60%, (or 36 minutes) yep, you heard right, 60% of the board meeting focused on STRATEGIC MATTERS – prominent topics include the budget, CEO evaluation, board nominations, and such. But the real magic happens when we start engaging in dialogue about other meaty issues.

Here are a handful of timely topics that can increase alignment and clarity, as well as encourage more strategic thinking among board and CEO/senior staff together:

  • COVID19 Relief and what it means for your clients and organization; talk together about how you can maximize impact by accessing these one-time resources
  • The board’s role in advocacy and advancing emerging legislation at the state and federal level that can improve the lives of those your organization serves
  • Critical reallocation of resources to invest in projects that will strengthen your organization right now—even though you may not have budgeted for them
  • Strategies for reducing chronic workplace stress to support employees and volunteers
  • Activating board members as brand ambassadors as fundraising begins to unwind and redesign itself out of COVID

10% (or six minutes) Board Matters – think affirmation of decisions, confirming next steps and who does what (board delegation the staff and committees), and meeting evaluation (yes, high performing organizations evaluate every board meeting)

Boom! With just a little tweaking, this all-important gathering of the organization’s top leaders can move from the mundane to the strategic. Give it a try, and let me know how it goes.

Click here for our complimentary board meeting planning template to help you get started.


In a future issue, I’ll dive into the other two dynamics in more detail. For now, though, here are two terrific resources to ignite your imagination. Have fun!


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Hey there, I'm Kimberley

Welcome! I believe our social sector organizations are at the forefront of making here better. With more than 33 years of diversified fundraising and nonprofit experience, I partner with courageous organizations committed to building clarity and confidence. Let’s connect and chart your nonprofit’s path to thriving. 

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