Bad board meetings

Lots has been written about how a good board meeting should go. But seldom do people want to talk about the antipattern of a bad board meeting.

A bad meeting yields in unactionable advice in response to unanswerable questions.

Should we go slow or go fast?

Answer 1: look before you leap.

Answer 2: he who hesitates is lost.

That question is just an example: it could be any generic question to which any answer is probably correct in some way: Should we build or buy to expand? Should we raise as much money as we can or the bare minimum?

To help avoid ending up in this rest area alongside the highway, consider proposing specific plans with real details. Even well-meaning board members need some help to focus them on how to really make things different. If you show them a globe and say “we’re going to California,” they’ll say it’s a great idea. But if you show them your roadmap, route, stopping points, and itinerary, they can give you better advice like “Toulumne Meadows will be closed from Nevada this time of year” or “that’s a great hotel choice, and you should stay there two days instead of one.”

Specific questions demand – and encourage – specific answers.