Away day Pitfalls

6 October 2015

This is the time of year when Boards and SMTs tend to take themselves off for an "awayday". This is often a time-honoured tradition where the purpose of the gathering has become blurred. It can also be a time when the Board discovers that it has lost touch with the thinking of the Executive.

As a general rule: if what the Board is presented with at the annual awayday is entirely new to them, then something has gone awry. Yet it is often the case.

For the Executive there is a challenge to share new thinking with the Board throughout the year. Presenting what appear to be faits-accomplis tends to worry Boards, for the obvious reason that they feel sidelined. The worry about presenting early ideas, however, is that the Board gets twitchy about what seems half-baked thinking.

There are ways through this. Including Board members on planning groups works well. The Board member can then champion the ideas when they are presented. There also ways to share thinking online for The Board to have input. There need to be ground rules to ensure the Board understand that, at development stage, they do not need to lead the process.

I have been to numerous "awaydays". Some last 2 days, some last half a day. Some are in posh Hotels and some in the corporate HQ (i.e. "staydays"). Many of them have been marred by that moment where the Board says "you want to do what?" It's avoidable...honest.