In my 25 years of military service, I spent a good deal of time on the planning staff of some high-powered generals. On one assignment I worked for what we referred to as a “fire breather.” He was high maintenance, egotistical, narcissistic, power driven, and at times tyrannical. He drove his staff to the point of burnout, with weekly firings and one-sided screaming matches the norm.
I worked 85 hours a week for a year and a half straight, with little or no vacation. I remember one year driving 20 hours non-stop from Tucson, Arizona, to Belle Fourche, South Dakota, and back to hunt deer over a three-day period because that was all the time I could have. The last five hours of the drive home were spent with my head out of the truck window, singing at the top of my lungs, trying to stay awake. I must have been quite a sight!
Dan VanderArk wrote a piece, posted on December 15, titled “Board Meetings in Under 90 Minutes.” As someone who currently sits on four CSI boards and two other private boards, I can attest to the fact that 90 minutes is indeed a lofty goal! It is, however, achievable, using some tools to streamline the process.
One tool that I see used with great success is the consent agenda.
Helen hurried out of the Christian school’s board meeting, a little cranky at spending three hours there. What fired her up tonight was the members jawing back and forth for a half-hour over whether to rent out the cafeteria on a Saturday night to a group that wouldn’t be leaving until nearly midnight.
No policy addressed the request. At the end, the board made no decision. The chair of the board advised the principal to “use his discretion.” As they walked out, Helen mumbled to another board member in frustration: “Dumb. So inefficient. Waste of time. Why can’t our principal come with a proposal with reasons?”
Recently I had the privilege of watching two of CSI’s boards meet together to wrestle over some major decisions with regard to CSI’s US pension.
Members of the CSI Board of Trustees and the US Pension Board all thought the issue was so important that they traveled from all over the US and Canada in order to come together to discuss the issues face to face. For six hours these two boards deliberated, weighed the data, discussed options, and heard the feedback they received from many of you.