A member of the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook asked:
Wondering if anyone has ever involved past board members, general membership, or even non-members in their board retreats before? If so, how? Pros and Cons?
One chamber professional suggested changing from a board retreat to a goals conference; the difference being inclusion.
Why a Goals Conference is More Effective for Chambers
A goals conference opens up the invite list from just chamber board members to anyone with a vision for the chamber’s future. As Edward Rodriguez stated, “A Chamber is all about building community leadership and consensus. Can’t do that by limiting the discussion to just (the) board.”
Bringing More People to the Table
Include ex-officio members, former board members, ambassadors, past chairs, involved members or anyone who would add to the conversation in a positive way. This doesn’t mean you should shy away from discussing obstacles and challenges just make sure that the conversation is geared towards finding solutions not just listing problems.
As Glenn Morris pointed out, often former board members bring historical perspective and deep and abiding connections and influence. Including them for at least part of the conversation gives a valuable point of view.
The term “retreat” is not appealing to a lot of people. It sounds like a very long, time-consuming day. Sometimes rebranding it with a new name — like “Goals Conference” — gives it just the burst of new energy it needs.
Choose a Structure that Works
If you’re trying to attract key visionaries, asking participants to give up an entire day might not be possible. Work with their schedules. Don’t set aside a whole day just because that’s the way it’s always been done. Get creative with the time, place, and format.
Every part of our lives addresses a shorter attention span, why should our meetings be any different?
What are you doing to enhance your chamber’s future planning? Join the conversation here.
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