The Annual Agenda is probably the most misunderstood of the board’s agendas. It is useful to think about it as the board’s annual work plan. It is in the annual agenda that the board takes on learning, ownership linkage and future environmental scanning. When the board consistently develops and works a targeted, future-oriented annual agenda, followed with refining Ends policy, the board is then in a position to advance the organization through Ends development.
Here are a few of the Annual Agenda topics you may be looking for:
- How do we develop an Annual Agenda?
The annual agenda is essentially the board's plan of strategic work for the upcoming year (or more if based on a multi-year plan). By strategic we mean that it is the work the board prioritizes as most important to achieve beyond that which is already committed to do based on its governance system. For example, the board always has to conduct monitoring assessments based on its schedule of reports, fulfill commitments concerning its own process like nominations and elections, and conduct self evaluation. This is some of the ongoing work of the board. In addition to that, the board might add a specific piece of ownership linkage, conduct research on a particular topic, participate in some training in group process, or bring in an expert in some field that it wishes to understand better as it may influence future policy development. These are strategic in the sense that they help the Board do its work but also extend into optional areas not required to get through the year.
It is common that there will be more strategic work than the board has time for so it is important to prioritize your annual agenda carefully.
To see on possible process for developing the annual agenda click here for our article One Possible Way to Develop Your Annual Agenda
- How does the Annual Agenda play out in the Meeting Agenda?
Because the annual agenda contains work that is above and beyond the work already committed to in policy or in by laws, it must be fit into the meeting agenda. Very frequently our client boards will define what they want to do and any major components of getting there and then leave it to the CGO/Chair to figure out the details. This requires defining the specific activities or events needed to complete the strategic work and then placing them throughout the year so that they both fit the flow of the work and the time available in the agendas.
To see how the annual agenda fits within the meeting agenda process, and one way you might plan your meetings for the full year, click here to see our article The Agenda Building Process
- What do you do when something pressing or intriguing comes up which is not on the plan?
Just because you have a plan does not mean you have to stick to it if you later have a better idea (or if you realize you bit off more than you could chew!) All it takes is the board as a whole making the decision to alter the plan. The CGO may be the first to recognize the need because he/she generally has responsibility for the specific meeting agendas but whomever sees the need just has to convince the full board to make the change. It will likely mean giving up on something else to make room.