by Andy Canada
Ever worked with a board or group of volunteers that had different agendas or no agenda at all? I am guessing everyone can remember a time when we were part of a group that had segments going in different directions. What steps can you take to get everyone focusing on the same goal and move your organization forward?
I am currently volunteering for an organization that has been spinning its wheels over a capital project for the past 12 months. After a lot of hard work and planning, the mortgage was paid off a few years ago and we were so excited and relieved to have that burden off of our shoulders that we have been slow to notice our facility aging before our eyes.
The board members had informal discussions and some members agreed to start looking at options for making improvements but only a small segment was really committed to exploring our options and making improvements to move the organization forward. There was a segment that was concerned about taking on a project that would require financing and a larger segment that wasn’t engaged in the conversation at all.
We had failed to get true buy-in from the board members upfront and it resulted in frustration and wasting of valuable time. No one on the board intended it to happen but we just skipped critical steps in the planning process and we had to regroup and map out a plan.
Our issue dealt with a capital project but hopefully the steps we took will help your organization stay on the same page and keep momentum moving forward. Over the past few months we have regrouped and started engaging the entire board in the process.
- The board outlined the issues surrounding our capital needs and agreed that we wanted to ensure our facility could continue to be a resource to fulfill our mission for the next 20 years.
- We established a date by when we wanted to have as much information collected as we could so the board could vote on the best ways to move forward.
- The board brainstormed on key questions that they would want answered during the process.
- A set of benchmarks was outlined to ensure the process continued moving forward and could be completed by the date established by the board.
- A committee was selected and each member of the committee was assigned a key focus area to report back to the group.
We are still working through the process and gathering information but the board is engaged and focused on reaching the goals that we outlined as a group. We entered into the process with an open-mind and are not sure on what the final outcome will be but everyone is working together to make the best decisions possible for the organization.
Initial planning and an open dialogue are critical to getting your board and volunteers on the same page. Engage them in the process from the very beginning and provide them with a platform to share their thoughts. Then map out a plan for moving forward. Your organization will be stronger with everyone working towards a common goal.