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Planning for Chapter Success: Board of Directors 2020-2021 Retreat Recap

Written by Emily Hymas, Jacobsen Construction
Board Member/President Elect

In June, the SMPS Utah Board of Directors met for our annual retreat to set strategic goals for 2020-2021. First, Treasurer Leslie Miller reported on the financial status of the chapter. Thanks to years of thoughtful planning, our chapter is in a solid financial position. We are confident in our ability to provide value to our members, despite the challenges of COVID-19 and the subsequent recession.

Next the board discussed strengths and weakness of the chapter and brainstormed out-of-the-box ideas to help improve the SMPS Utah experience for our members. We recognized the need for more connection and communication with our membership as we face challenging times together and committed to keep this overarching goal top-of-mind throughout the year.

SMPS Utah: 2020-2021 Chapter Goals

After discussing strategic plans for programs, education, special events, membership, sponsorship, and communication, we finalized a few more specific, chapter-wide goals:

Build strong, diverse committees. We plan to encourage more of our membership to participate on our committees. We value the unique insights of all members and know that a variety of perspectives will enhance innovation and creativity within our chapter, as well as the AEC industry.

Expand our membership beyond the Salt Lake Valley. We now have the tools to offer virtual meetings and resources to members who live farther away. This is a great opportunity to grow the collective network of our membership.

Ensure exceptional value for our membership through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. We want to do everything we can to provide a safe and inspiring space for our members to connect, learn and grow. We will adjust our events and programming throughout the year to best meet the needs of our membership.

Best Practices for a Virtual Strategic Planning Session

We held the retreat via Zoom and found the following best practices helpful in holding a virtual strategic planning meeting:

Assign Prework. Meetings will be more efficient and productive if clear objectives are set ahead of time. Ask participants to complete prework prior to the meeting.

Use video. Video conferencing helps participants feel connected and encourages engagement. Meeting effectiveness is increased if participants can see each other’s facial expressions and body language.

Minimize meeting length and take breaks. Virtual meeting fatigue is real. Split a retreat-style meeting into two or three shorter meetings and take scheduled breaks to recharge.

Call on people to encourage participation. “Go around the table” when brainstorming or before finalizing a decision.

Ensure everyone is on the same page. Use screen sharing or the Zoom whiteboard feature to facilitate brainstorming and other discussions.
Tackle all the issues — even the tough ones. Don’t wait to discuss controversial topics until everyone can meet in person.

We’re excited for the upcoming year and can’t wait to implement new ways to connect and provide value for you. Please reach out to us if you’d like to participate on a committee, or if you have any suggestions for the board. SMPS Utah is here for you, now and more than ever!

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