Getting on Board

Last week I had the opportunity to talk with our board of trustees about some of the changes that we are making in Youth Services.  We set an ambitious agenda for ourselves late last year and have followed through on much of what we set out to do. There has been some upheaval-level transformation in our traditional approach to service as this happened. I wanted to give the board a heads-up so they could answer community -and staff - questions and concerns that might come up.

Although boards don't always get into this kind of detail with staff, I think it is important to give them alerts when major changes are being planned for services, programs and spaces.  I don't mean telling them about dropping a storytime or offering a new afterschool series.  I am talking about those truly expansive, BHAG evolutions that nudge - or launch - service into a whole new direction.  Offering outreach to a new demographic; curtailing a longtime service because it is no longer used; launching a new literacy initiative for an unserved demographic; etc.

Director, management and  colleagues should be in from the start as well.  Their buy-in, contributions and ideas contribute to making the transformation happen.  But it is important that our citizen board of trustees have knowledge of the changes as well. I figure the more a board knows and  understands, the more on board they will be. And the more they will share with others in the community from a great knowledge base since they've been kept informed.

The other key piece is keeping them updated with the successes or failures of any projects. It's as important to tell the story of what doesn't work as well as what works. Couple that with a brief analysis on why an effort faltered and whether a new approach to the project may produce a positive outcome. If it is a successful initiative, briefly share stats that show increased usage; share anecdotes from the public or collaborators and explain how some of the concerns expressed when it was first proposed didn't come about.

All this can be quickly done (5 minutes) in a brief address to the board once or twice a year when you have a big change to discuss.  Work with your director to make sure you have this opportunity or s/he presents it on your behalf. And if you can't get on the agenda, create a very brief report and ask your director to share with the board in their packet. Support of Youth Services is something we help create and getting everyone on board for our work makes it that much easier.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Marge,
    I looked back at your "ambitious agenda" and was wondering if you could give me more details about how you are creating "field trip adventures". I am the children's librarian in a small public library. We have not been doing class visits for the last while, but would like to start something up possibly this fall and I would be thrilled to hear your ideas.
    Thanks so much!
    kendra at westgreylibrary dot com