Tuesday, February 5, 2013

12 Reasons For A Board Retreat

Board members don't usually react with excitement over the idea of a retreat; they tend to retreat from those plans as quick as they can. While they may not be thrilled about the idea of a board retreat, these trips often have tangible benefits and are worth pursuing.

Dennis Miller, founder of Miller & Associates in Denville, N.J., an expert on nonprofit board governance, leadership development and strategic planning, and frequent contributor to The NonProfit Times,  maintained that retreats are an excellent opportunity to envision the future, establish new goals and develop desired standards of performance.

This is all in practice, of course, and preparation is key to ensuring retreats have their desired effect. Specifically, that means managers should:

  • Solicit input from as many key internal and external stakeholders as possible.
  • In conjunction with the CEO, board chair and/or retreat committee, develop an agenda with two to three specific goals.
  • Consider requiring "homework" to be completed before the retreat.
  • Set approximate timelines for each topic to be covered and stick with them as often as possible.
  • Involve as many members from the senior executive team as practical.
  • Make sure everyone is called on to participate.
  • Select a comfortable place, preferably away from the site where the daily workings of the organization take place.
  • Allow ample breaks between key topics.
  • Build consensus on all key issues discussed and create key action steps.
  • Consider engaging an experienced facilitator or consultant.
  • Provide a retreat summary for all participants on key issues discussed, what consensus was developed and required action steps.
  • Perform a retreat customer satisfaction survey prior to leaving the room.

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