An ironic twist in a pandemic that isolated people from one another is that many association board members had more face time together—even if the faces were on screens. As COVID-19 set in, associations accelerated governance meetings from quarterly to monthly or even weekly, conducting more discussions about whether they needed to change or narrow the scope of their strategic plans in the face of radical disruption.
But Glenn Tecker, chairman and co-CEO of the governance consultancy Tecker International, is skeptical that more meetings have resulted in increased engagement with strategic matters. “We see many boards meeting more frequently for shorter periods of time, with less robust discussion about real issues,” he said.
Frequent but surface-level conversations can lead to rash and arbitrary decisions to retool a strategic plan. Better for associations to dedicate more attention to putting their current plan to work, Tecker says, however often they meet.
“There should be time directed toward two things,” he said. “One is a future issue of specific importance, so that everyone has an informed conversation about what’s coming. The second is progress being made in the current strategy, so the board is able to direct attention to parts of the strategy that may need to be reconsidered.”
Governance consultant Lowell Aplebaum, FASAE, CAE, CEO of the leadership consultancy Vista Cova, says the pandemic has encouraged many boards to rethink their strategy, especially if they’ve made challenging adjustments. “They’re asking, what’s our opportunity to rethink our direction, now that we’ve developed some new skill sets around innovation?”