Did you know that the Black Star Board of Directors has two, all-day retreats a year (in addition to monthly board meetings)? The board retreats are a vehicle for taking time to solve problems, lay the foundation for future work, and to generally spend blocks of time to flush out ideas and next steps. The board retreats are a critical component of the board’s work, and this January retreat was no different.
We started the day with hot coffee and breakfast tacos, and quickly moved into a fun and engaging teaming exercise. Every year, as some board members rotate off the board and are then replaced with new team members, it’s important to establish commonality and a sense of connection, as we collectively prepare to embark on the shared experience that is better known as “THE Black Star Co-Op.” The teaming exercise was simple, fun, and got everyone moving and talking. The first part involved identifying and drawing four pictures that represent ourselves. With only a few minutes to draw our pictures, you had to be spontaneous and quick. Suffice it to say, there were also a lot of shared jokes about NOT being the next Picasso. From there, each team member had only three minutes to share his or her pictures with the group, and explain why the picture was drawn, what it represents, and why it’s important. To conclude the exercise, we had to, as a group, decide on six different categories of pictures, group them together, and label them. This exercise was a fantastic way to find
commonality, connection, and to better understand our group. Picasso or not, this exercise was a great success.
From there we moved into a series of training sessions. First there was an introduction to the board tool framework, building the pyramid of work structure that starts with the bylaws, and ends with the foundational tools used. Then we moved into policy governance training: what it is, why it’s important, how it’s used, etc. Using the Decision Tree for Acting on Internal Monitoring Reports, we stepped through an example of policy monitoring from a recent board meeting. We also had working conversations surrounding situational reviews: if this, then that. These conversations
help establish our expectations for the year, as well as set the tone for how specific situations will be addressed.
After a quick walk to lunch, we spent the lunch hour collaborating on various blog content ideas. Everyone (literally) came to the table, completed homework in hands, and we brainstormed ideas surrounding engaging content to communicate with our loved ones, YOU, the member/owners. The ideas ranged from historical context, to member spotlights, to supply chain, to beer. These ideas will ultimately translate into monthly articles from your board.
The afternoon session centered around board committee work. Heading into 2020, the board has three chartered committees: Membership Development, Leadership Development, and the Finance Review & Report committee. We broke into our various committee groups, edited and updated the committee charters, and then also updated each committee’s ROA document. The ROA document (Result, Objectives, and Activities) is a new tool that was introduced at he summer retreat last year. This tool will be used to shape each committee’s work for the year, as well as establish
metrics for performance. Performance will be tracked so that we can evaluate, objectively, our progress over the year. Each committee chair then had ten to fifteen minutes to present the committee charter to the group, followed by a detailed review of the ROA.
Whew. What a day! On the whole, it was a fantastic retreat. In addition to establishing cohesive team bonds, we all contributed to the 2020 board plan; we know what to do, when, and by whom. Ultimately, we welcome this year’s new board members into the fold:
- James Farris, three-year term
- Gabe Prado, three-year term
- Ryan Vanstone, one-year appointed term
We have a lot of work in front of us because 2020 is shaping up to be a big and exciting year for the co-op; I’m happy to
be a small part of it.