I talk to a lot of board members and board chairs in my travels and one complaint I hear quite often, is “We just don’t seem to get anything done. How can we make progress during our term in office?” I get this a lot! Sound like your board?

Directors tell me they attend well-planned board retreats and everyone leaves the room energized, motivated, and focused. They have updated strategic plans tucked under their arms, and everyone seems ready to make this the best year ever! Truth be told, I’ve been there, done that, too!

Infact, a study found that seven out of ten businesses that fail, do so because of poor execution. Even though they all had a strategic plan!

Happily, there is a simple fix to this problem. It is called documentation and follow up!

People don’t intentionally forget to do something, or change their mind about following through on their commitments. The simple fact is, once the retreat is over and real life sets in, people get busy and other pressing issues take over. They just need to be reminded.

My solution for this problem is…a sharpened pencil and note pad–or, maybe an iPad.

The cause of this problem isn’t a bad attitude or irresponsibility, but a lack of clear accountability and follow through by the board/committee chair. Sadly, a lot of important decisions are made during retreats and regular board meetings but are never appropriately documented. That makes them hard to accomplish. Here’s a simple tip for board chairs, board committee chairs, and executive directors.

Every board or committee decision that is make resulting in an action item needs to be captured, documented, and published. Who is responsible…to do what…by when. Then, at each ensuing board meeting, those action item committees must provide updates. 

That’s it. Just keep track-and make sure everyone else knows it.  I used this simple method when I ran a business and found it worked very well. I kept a personal copy of our action items with me at all times so I could informally check in progress between meetings. When people know you are keeping track, they usually jump onto their projects and get them done.

How about you? How do you keep track of tasks, assignments, etc?