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5 Step Recipe for a Great Board Away Day


  • 8-10 really capable people
  • A clear purpose for the day
  • A large handful of commitment
  • 1 Facilitator (specialist in board leadership)
  • An inspiring venue
  • Bottomless coffee pots
  • A generous sprinkling of fun and laughter


  1. The agenda (agreed and circulated in advance) shouldn’t be too busy, and may include some of the following:
    1. High level thinking about key strategic priorities and key risks
    2. Review of board effectiveness
    3. Board skills audit, leading to board development planning
    4. The delegation framework
  2. Depending on the agreed purpose of the day, issue pre-reading in advance. Agree small groups to lead the discussion on each of the documents, which may include some of:
    1. Groupthink in the boardroom
    2. Good Governance – A Code for the Voluntary and Community Sector
    3. Your board and board member Role Descriptions
    4. Feedback from key stakeholders to inform strategic thinking
  3. The Board Chair and Facilitator should welcome participants, use an ‘icebreaker’ exercise to get people warmed up, and invite them to define what will make this a great use of their time – those priorities can inform the time allocation for the rest of the Away Day.
  4. Use open questions in relation to the pre-reading to kick off debate about the documents, eg:
    1. What are we doing well in this area?
    2. What can we improve? What are our next steps?
    3. Who can help us with this?
  5. The outcomes should be a clear and concise Governance Action Plan for the year and improved team relationships, which are essential for a high performing board.
Joy Allen
Joy Allen, Managing Director, Leading Governance 


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