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Board room topic pointers

Because of the industry’s age demographic, agriculture will be one of the first to be challenged when it comes to the change in generations.

For over thirty years, I have facilitated strategic planning sessions for Boards of various organizations including businesses, academics, and government agencies. Of this column’s readership, many serve on boards with different organizations, and others manage large businesses that require formal planning. In fact, today’s economic reset continues to increase planning time for many businesses and boards.  

In board room discussions, the following, in no particular order, are some of today’s hot topics:

Workforce and business transition is one the strategic issues facing most agriculture organizations.Because of the industry’s age demographic, agriculture will be one of the first to be challenged. Whether it is ownership or management transition, or workplace changes, the significant shift from Veteran and Baby Boomer generations to the Millennial and Gen Z eras is on the agenda at most board meetings.

Another agenda item is managing through the economic reset, which also includes opportunities presented by the down cycle for business growth or expansion.This game plan is normally at the forefront of most strategic plans.  

The role of technology in the refinement of processes is another top issue for many organizations’ boards. From dealing with regulatory issues to changing workplace culture, increased efficiency is at the top of the list.    

New markets, growth opportunities, and the trained development of the organization’s people are other common agenda items for many boards. 

Shifting gears to the actual process, many boards of directors begin their strategic planning with a few guidelines and pointers to get the most out of their time. 

  • Use written surveys prior to the face-to-face meeting to spur critical thinking rather than instantaneous responses. 
  • At the in-person meeting, in order to keep everyone engaged and minimize strong egos that may otherwise dominate conversation, require written responses to discussion points (challenges, opportunities, and issues) before extensive group dialogue takes place.       
  • Summaries of major accomplishments since the last boarding planning session can jump start the meeting.
  • Ask individuals to keep their personal technologies (cell phones, tablets, etc.) to a minimum during the meetings to increase communication and dialogue, and decrease distraction.
  •  Sometimes a visit to another business inside or outside of agriculture will give board members new ideas or different perspectives that can help your strategic planning be as productive as possible.     

Of course, there are other items we could add to the lists of board room discussions and ways to maximize time and resources.Regardless of which hot topics make it on the agenda, or what creative and engaging methods your board employs, the most important pointer is to make strategic planning a priority every year. It is one of the most critical activities any business and organization conducts. 

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