The Zoom Room Your Board is Missing
Do you know where the most honest, insightful and productive board conversations historically took place pre-Covid? If you just said the parking lot, then you’re likely a veteran board member or board observer.
Why are board members’, post-meeting, parking lot conversations so universal and frequently so spot on? Maybe it’s because people are warmed up from the main conversation in the board meeting or because the informality and smaller pairing or group allows people to speak more freely?
As someone who desperately wants boards to move past rubber stamping and exchanging pleasantries to having more real, honest, open, meaningful and generative conversations, I have often wondered how to bring the candor of parking lot conversations into the board room. I have handed out index cards to board members as the last item on an in-person agenda for people to write on and tell (anonymously if they prefer) what they were going to share in their parking lot afterthoughts. This gets a chuckle and sometimes it leads to the most revealing and clarifying comments of the night.
In our remote world, I want to challenge you to add a last item on your next board meeting agenda. Ask your board members: If this meeting was in person, what would you say in the parking lot afterwards? (The remote version of this is what did you or will you text to a fellow board member about the board meeting.) Then consider a breakout room called the Parking Lot and invite people to meander about after your meeting.
Nanette R. Fridman is a veteran organizational strategist and leadership coach. She is the President of Fridman Strategies, Inc. and a partner in Working Wonders. Nanette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org