One of the first requirements for an effective Board is to have a workplan for the coming year.
The strategic plan outlines what the organization seeks to accomplish, but generally does not indicate the Board’s particular initiatives. It must determine the specifics of what it will do during the course of the year and at Board and committee meetings.
One of the Board’s first tasks at the start of the year, then, is to identify and prioritize the goals, tasks, issues, challenges and monitoring program that will form the basis of its work agenda. This should be done as soon as possible after the new Board has been installed.
This exercise is important for helping new Board members develop a sense of ownership of the work that will take place throughout the year. Lack of ownership can result in disinterest, apathy, and even disruption.
The Board must identify goals to accomplish; initiatives to undertake; issues to address; information required; monitoring mechanisms; and other tasks such as evaluating the Chief Executive.
Next, the Board needs to determine dates for completion of the tasks, monitoring report deadlines, and when it will address the issues it has identified. When this is complete, it can compile the information into a ‘workplan calendar’ for the year.
This workplan will direct the work of the Board for the remainder of the year. Most likely, unexpected issues and events will arise that must be dealt with and fitted into the calendar.
Having a detailed workplan calendar will help the Board accommodate the unexpected.
Another valuable feature of the workplan calendar is that it basically sets the agenda for all Board meetings throughout the year. This means plenty of advance notice of deadlines, generous lead-time for accomplishing work tasks, and a solid schedule for monitoring.
If a Board does not develop a workplan for the year, it risks being reactive rather than proactive, attempting to become involved in the work of the Chief Executive, and lacking clarity of direction.
This is not a recipe for effective governing.