It has been said that most actions fail to be implemented following a board meeting. How could this be when the commitments are documented in the minutes, consensus has been reached and assignments were made?

Everyone has good intentions at the time. But the pressures of competing priorities, especially those from a "real" job and limited time often put organizational work on the back burner, and sometimes even off the stove.

Phases of the board meeting

Board meetings have three phases. A planning phase crafts an agenda, gives notice and prepares reports. Phase two is the meeting itself, requiring a significant investment of time and energy by officers, directors and staff.

The final phase begins at adjournment of the meeting — execution. Enthusiasm alone will get the tasks done. Use these techniques in phase three after the board meeting:

  • Meeting closure: As the meeting ends, confirm the actions that have been agreed upon to ensure that leadership is aware, understands deadlines and the next steps. Make sure everyone knows who is responsible for not only the action item, but also a report back to the board. This reinforces the importance of what was discussed and everyone's expectations.
  • Minutes: Draft the minutes promptly after the meeting. The quicker the minutes are distributed, the greater likelihood that leaders will use them as reminders of their commitments.
  • Board portal: Post documents to a shared portal or use Dropbox so volunteers can review deadlines and progress.
  • Staff awareness: Meet with the staff soon after the meeting. Inform them of the discussions and outcomes to reduce anxiety they may have if they didn't get to attend.
  • Policies: If the board approved or amended organizational policies, be sure they are updated and archived in a compendium for future reference.
  • Action plan: Create an action plan based on commitments, conversations and the minutes. While the minutes document the actions of the board, the action plan identifies deadlines and accountability. Colin Rorrie, Ph.D., CAE, of CCR & Associates, recommends an action tracking matrix to involve committees and staff following the meeting, providing this example:

  • Alignment: Contrast board actions with the budget and strategic plan. Make adjustments as needed.
  • Reminders: With busy workloads, not everything can be completed immediately. Set reminders using a manual calendar or online resource such as
  • Committees: Much of the board actions will rely on committee work. Communicate the board's intentions and directives to committee chairs.
  • Dashboards: Report progress by using dashboards and graphics to visually depict progress and performance.
  • One voice: Leaders will be asked, "What happened at the board meeting?" Consider distributing an executive summary, so directors deliver consistent messages about outcomes and discussions.

Make your own checklist of what must occur after the meeting. There is little value to board meetings if actions do not produce outcomes.