March update from the board president

A new (but not unusual) leadership tool was introduced to the board of trustees at our mini-retreat on February 19. We gathered with a focus on leadership development and were expertly facilitated by Unitarian Universalist Association District Consultant, Ray Wilson. Wilson is a long-time UU from the Indianapolis area and an organization consultant by profession.

The tool is a “Charter.”  Surely it has been called dozens of other names by organizational gurus but “charter” does have a nice ring to it. It is simply a way to help us better state what we want to accomplish AND identify the steps to success. Each written charter should include:

  • PURPOSE: (Describes the purpose or mission of the assignment.)
  • PRODUCT/EXPECTED RESULTS: (Describes the specific outcomes that are desired.)
  • AUTHORITIES: (Describes authority that is being delegated – money, time, space, etc.)
  • LIMITATIONS or BOUNDARIES: (Lists worries or actions that are unacceptable in carrying out this project. By listing means or actions that are unacceptable, it frees the person or team to use any other methods or approaches to get the job done.)
  • MONITORING: (Describes when, how often, in what form, and to whom reports or communication should be made about progress.)

And you might be saying, “duh, don‘t we do these things now?” Well, in some instances we do and many others we don‘t. It‘s certain that we haven‘t used a consistent process tool as a guide. Is it a reason some projects get talked about but never launched or completed? According to personal productivity expert, David Allen, “things rarely get stuck because of lack of time. They get stuck because the doing of them has not been defined.”

Back to the retreat, we practiced using the charter tool with several exercises and you‘ll be astounded to learn that for a sustained period of time ten UUs worked together in silence….. as instructed. (Some would see this conformity as a bad sign but in this situation it was quite productive). Preliminary charters were drafted for strategic planning, communication improvement and leadership development/training.

At the board meeting just two days later we unanimously agreed to complete the Strategic Planning Charter first and build from that success. Why this? Because we‘ll make a much bigger difference in the world if we plan and articulate our greatness as a congregation vs. leave it to chance. And the roadmap created by strategic planning will help assure we effectively manage our resources (time, talent, finances, facility) to stay focused on our mission.

We‘re looking forward to working with the leaders of strategic planning at UUC: Barny Dunning, Frank Arnold, Don Ferris, Ruthann Ferris, Ellen Gruenbaum and Fritz Smith. And at many points…all of us. Let the definition begin.


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