Great Chicago Board Meeting

In an earlier email I talked about the outstanding volunteer spirit of the UPCEA members.  My best estimate is that, including the Regions, Committees, Commissions, and the COPs, UPCEA has as many as 700 active volunteers.  Clearly, our volunteer members do the business of UPCEA.
Last week I had the good fortune to once again see the outstanding volunteer spirit of UPCEA in chairing the UPCEA Board of Directors meeting.  More than 20 of your colleagues traveled to Chicago to further the goals of UPCEA and to review a draft of the strategic plan.
I had four goals for our board meeting:

  1. Shape our association’s agenda for the rest of the year and for subsequent years;
  2. Provide a framework for the discussion of the strategic plan;
  3. Set expectations for the board, national office, and membership;
  4. Establish mechanisms for continuity for what is mostly a one year board experience.

To address the goals, we set aside two hours for a discussion of the Anatomy of a Remarkable Board.  You may remember that in my initial address to the association in Toronto I challenged myself, the national office, and the board to strive to be REMARKABLE.  The notion of a remarkable board comes from research supported by multiple associations and captured in Nancy R. Axelrod’s Governing for Growth.

What are the measures of a REMARKABLE board?

  • A customer service culture where structures, processes and interactions focus on customer needs;
  • Alignment of products and services with mission;
  • Strategies and decisions are data-driven
  • Data and other information are shared widely with the membership;
  • CEO and elected officials imagine what is possible and enable things to happen;
  • Ability to deal with emerging issues by having an organizational adaptability;
  • Alliances are made that relate and compliment existing strategies and mission.

As part of our discussions, we reflected on where we felt we were relative to the above items as an association, and what aspirations we have in better meeting the measures.

On Wednesday, we set aside the full four hours of our meeting to the discussion of the draft strategic plan.  As I had hoped, the seven measures we discussed the day before did provide a framework for our discussions.  In particular, our discussions centered on the ideas from the strategic plan and whether they met the first measure. So does making this change, whether it relates to structure or systems, better serve our members?  I couldn’t have been more proud of the members of the board in our discussion of the strategic plan.  As it is the responsibility of the board, our discussions were primarily at the 50,000 foot level and rarely in (what I would call) the weeds.  There is no doubt that the discussion and comments  from the board have strengthened the plan.

I also want to thank the Commissions and COP leadership who were also in Chicago for your insights.

While there is work to do on the draft strategic plan, there was agreement about the direction of the plan.  The most exhilarating thing about the meetings in Chicago was to see the excitement that the strategic plan and our discussions generated among the membership.

The next steps in the strategic planning process are to share the plan with the membership for their input.  There will be at least three ways to provide input.  First, there will be opportunity at each of the Regional Meetings to give feedback to Bob, Tom Gibbons, or me.  Second, members can go to the UPCEA web site and click on “A Blueprint for the Future” to find the draft plan and an opportunity to provide feedback.  Third, Bob, Tom, and I invite you to contact us directly via email or phone with your feedback.

Once we have that feedback from our membership, the document will be reviewed by the Executive Committee in late November and presented to the Board at our January meeting for approval.

In closing, many thanks to the Board members for such a great meeting, thanks to the Commissions and COP leadership for your insights, and a big thank you to Tom Gibbons and Bob Hansen for their leadership and the many hours they’ve put in to the planning process.

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One Response to Great Chicago Board Meeting

  1. Judy Ashcroft says:

    Jim’s Fall Board Meeting was one of the most efficient and effective ones I recall. He provided professional development for the Board, clearly set expectations, and not only made time for discussion but also listened carefully to the ideas – some of which are reflected in this posting. This Board is dedicated to the association members, and they were engaged. Another meeting, and I think we will be remarkable.

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