By: David J. Smith, September 3, 2014

In May 2014 I was invited to develop an afternoon workshop for the Anne Arundel County (MD)  Board of Education.  The board had recently appointed a new superintendent and wanted to create an opportunity for  board members to meet with him in a working environment.   The focus of the workshop was advancing effective communication approaches, looking at ways to resolve differences, and promoting collaboration.

Before the workshop I implemented a survey with the participants using SurveyMonkey.   This gave me an opportunity to consider the needs of individual board members and how they saw upcoming priorities.  During the first part of the workshop, I shared with the group the survey results.

We discussed the role of trust and how it could be enhanced.  This led to considering a fictitious situation  where trust and communication had broken down in a board. Participants were asked to consider how trust might be rebuilt.

Consensus is a means of decision making.  We discussed the importance of consensus building.  Using a simulation I created called “Comments by a Former President” we considered how a college board might respond to a situation where a former president made racially disparaging remarks (after a building was named after him.)

The program ended with a short visioning exercising using some precepts from Appreciative Inquiry.