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Strategic Planning and Management Insights

How to Stay Organized & Keep Your Board Running Smoothly

[fa icon="calendar"] September 18 / by Jenna Sedmak


If you’re a non-profit or growing organization with a board, you’ve likely got a big group of stakeholders to communicate with. You need to make sure the board leaders, directors, management, and employees are all aligned on the direction of the organization, while keeping volunteers and external stakeholders and shareholders in the loop.

While strategic planning sessions are critical for the long-term success for board governed organizations, there are other day-to-day practices and tools that can help you and your team stay organized, on track, and aligned.  


  • Prepare Meeting Agendas Before Board and Team Meetings

Busy organizations need to optimize their time, and meetings can be a time waster if they’re not done well. Preparing an agenda in advance can help you cover all necessary topics, stay on track, and keep within a reasonable time limit. If you’re concerned about losing creativity by sticking to an agenda, build in enough time for creative banter at some point during the meeting. Allow enough space and time for various people to speak up and share their ideas, but within a timeframe that works for everybody.

  • Record Meeting Minutes and Follow Up with Board and Team Members

Though it may seem tedious, it’s essential to keep track of what happened during the meeting to keep important thoughts, ideas and tasks organized. If you don’t have an office administrator or office assistant, designate a board member or employee or ask for a volunteer to record the meeting minutes.

With clear notes and action items following the meeting, board leaders and team members can follow through on their action items and stay accountable for their tasks. Without meeting minutes and clear deliverables to follow, it is possible to misunderstand who is responsible for what, or to even forget great new ideas that may have come up during the meeting.

The meeting minutes can be recorded alongside the meeting agenda. We've put together a three-hour sample board meeting agenda and sample meeting minutes template to help you get started:



Opening - 15 Minutes

  • Attendance & Introduction of any new members
  • Opening commentary
  • Review of previous meeting minutes


Discussion Items - 90 Minutes

  • Strategic planning review (Have current strategic plan document handy) 
  • Goal implementation and task review (Have a way to measure the success of action item & KPI completion)
  • Important upcoming strategic decisions
  • Report discussions (financial or other)
  • Upcoming events and action items



 Presentations and Commentary - 30 Minutes

  • Any scheduled presentations
  • Open the table for discussion and commentary




 Closing - 15 Minutes

  • Confirm and assign action items and duties to individuals and with set deadlines
  • Meeting minute taker to confirm date that the minutes will be sent to attendees or those who could not make the meeting
  • Agree on date and time for next board meeting


Please note: This is a sample agenda that can be modified for your individual organization’s needs. Board meeting agendas and timelines will vary depending on the size of your board and leadership team, how much you need to discuss, and how often you meet.

  • Software

There are a multitude of ways to track projects and tasks and some are better than others. While some smaller organizations may do well with simple spreadsheet tracking, others my need a more robust system to manage projects and task lists. Most project management or board management software companies offer a free a consultation (like DiliTrust's Executive Board Portal), and others offer free trial periods that will allow you to find the best fit for your needs.

  • Continuous learning

Whether you’re working with a non-profit organization or for a publicly traded company, your days are likely very full. However, it’s important to remember that industries evolve, technology develops, and business practices change. Continuous education is imperative to stay on top of the game and to keep your organization moving in the right direction (both internally and externally).

While you may not have enough time to enrol in a course, there are great resources out there to keep you sharp while also making the most of your time. Listening to podcasts or e-books on your daily commute, starting a lunch hour or morning discussion group one day each week, or attending local leadership seminars are some examples of ways to keep on top of industry and organizational trends.

Get started now by listening to our Strategy and Leadership Podcast episode on strategic board leadership with Vivian Smith:

  • Regular Strategy Reviews to Align Your Board Leadership and Your Team

Some organizations update their strategic plan every three years, others every year, and some on a quarterly basis. The frequency depends on multiple factors such as the size of your organization and team, the industry you operate within and how quickly it evolves, and your yearly budget.

If your organization is already on a quarterly or 6-month planning cycle, this is fantastic. You are likely on top of your industry trends, and your board and employees are aligned on the direction of your organization. 

For those organizations who have a longer planning cycle (one or more years between strategic plan updates), you may want to consider bi-annual or quarterly strategy meeting to make sure your team is aligned and on track, and to identify and mitigate any roadblocks before they become large obstacles. By accepting and recognizing failures early on, it will give your organization a chance to be proactive rather than reactive, and reduce the need to overhaul an entire project or strategy.

Is your strategic plan in need of a review? Learn how a facilitator can help you maximize your resources and make the most out of your next strategy session or contact us for more information: 


Topics: Strategic planning, Leadership

Jenna Sedmak

Written by Jenna Sedmak

Jenna is the communications and client partnership manager with SME Strategy. She spends her time building relationships with the public, clients and partners through web content and podcast production, industry research, customer relations, project management and strategic plan implementation.

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