Is your board having the right conversations? by Scott Goodspeed

For any number of reasons, hospital Boards of Trustees vary in size, scope, and efficacy. Over the course of my career, I’ve learned as much from high-functioning boards as I have from others that are borderline dysfunctional.

Not long ago, I was retained by a client for some board education work. It’s great when organizations are self-aware enough to know they need help. I arrived with the purpose of helping this group think through how they have to reposition the organization, determining the right skill mix of the board roster, and developing strategic actionable and worthwhile agendas. Quite standard – and fulfilling – work.

I was asked to sit in on a board meeting at which they were slated to discuss their new strategic plan to ensure that they were talking about relevant topics. Over the course of a meeting that lasted more than three hours, the group didn’t have a single 10-minute conversation about even a single strategic priority. When asked for a debrief near the end of the meeting, I had to stick my neck out, telling the group, – you failed to talk about anything that was strategically relevant.

My straight talk helped the group better understand that they had even more work to do than they thought. And by opening them up to feedback and education, the eventual results were that much better. Today, their Board utilizes a consent agenda, quickly disposing of any tactical discussion, and now focuses on 4 strategic themes including people, infrastructure and technology; quality and patient safety (recently renamed value); provider relations and growth and financial health. Amazing what a Board can accomplish in 90 minutes when they are strategically focused.

Whether you’re building a better board or want to strengthen the group you have in place, I’d love to talk with you. Drop me a line at


Scott Goodspeed is a Director at Stroudwater.