5 Cs For Social Enterprise + Free Template
by april burrows
As a triple bottom line social enterprise, B Corp and generally a company committed to doing business differently, I have found creating team meeting agendas to be a challenge. So many things are important and integral to us, our work, and our clients - but we only meet for 2 hours once a month. I needed something that would help us to keep our priorities at the forefront and not let the urgent, short term or preferred/easier topics dominate our agendas. I wanted our meetings to be authentic to who we are.
After some contemplation of our past meetings and whether or not they were contributing to our goals, I came up with five key areas or priorities to guide our meetings. I needed our agendas to focus on building capacity within the team, holding us true to our values, and managing strategic goals & priorities. A tall order.
Below I share the five topics I identified as being priorities for FLOW to cover in each meeting. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and after I explain the focus of each item you may find that you can add some missing pieces that might benefit your organization. Alternatively, this list might remind you of some of your own unique priorities that you could find a good “c” word to cover – or, heaven forbid, use a different consonant or vowel ;).
The idea is to name and claim what is important and to make sure you and your staff understand why these specific things are on your agenda. If you happen to be a Certified Benefit Corporation (or are in the process of certification) or identify as a social or green enterprise you are welcome to use the same priorities for you organization. You can download a template here.
As you create your team meeting agendas using this method, you will likely notice that there are one or two of the topics that dominate each meeting. It’s important to make sure that the same ones don’t take over repeatedly. Each focus is important and deserves some time in the spotlight. Sometimes, the content for one topic may simply be reminders or updates and that is okay. However, I would say that if you have absolutely nothing to say about a priority item you might want to question it’s significance or validity. Do you truly value this? ( E.g. we’ve heard a lot about greenwashing in the last 5+ years ).
Using the following focus points (or some that you identify as more accurately representative of your priorities) to frame your meetings holds you accountable. Authenticity is huge.
The 5 c Agenda
Connect – I believe it is essential for team members to get to know one another. We are primarily a virtual team so we don’t get to stand around the water cooler - that fact made it very clear that we needed to intentionally check in. For any team, virtual or not, taking the time to consider what would help bring the team together around the company vision is an important factor. What could be collectively learned? What would be useful to know about each other’s styles, giftedness, or background that could help us be more supportive of each other and work better as a team? What could give a voice to new people? This type of question should be a priority for all organizations. Organizations/businesses are made up of people. This is why I put this first on our agenda. Without the people we have no business. Starting your meetings with anything from a simple and fun sharing question (like who’s your favourite super hero and why?) to a more complex discussion on personality type (we use the Enneagram) can nicely facilitate a discussion and pull the body, mind and heart of the team together right off the top. This time should not be focused on subjects that highlight current challenges but simply on drawing everyone together. If there is a need to do some specific collective work around team dynamics, it should be a topic in the next section, Company.
Company – This is the time to share any new developments, give updates on business goals, deal with culture/team dynamics, policies, procedures etc. Transparency is important, so provide as much information as you can to your team about how things are going, and where things are shifting. It is often difficult for social enterprises to remember they are a business and it’s very important to keep your eye on profitability, sales, marketing, cash flow, development etc. or you will minimize the impact of your other efforts. Sustainability includes profit (or for a NFP, donor/fundraising initiatives).
Client/Customer – This is where you can share anything that has come up since the last meeting that affects the clients/customers. Even if it has been shared via email etc. you still want to note it here and give space for questions/concerns. Having this part of the discussion after the “Company” topic will likely put some of those previous discussion topics in context. This time can also be spent getting your team to collectively solve client problems/challenges or hear and address new needs.
Cause/Community - We purposely leave this closer to the end. This is so fun for us that we could spend our whole time together dreaming of ways to help and we wouldn’t have time for “business”. It is super important to take time to touch base on what you are working on or supporting and to evaluate your effectiveness and impact. We have continued to look for ways to maximize our community offerings and effectively steward our resources. The growth we have seen in this area has come from reflecting on and monitoring this priority. FLOW commits to giving back 10% of our gross income in time to the causes we support. We have continued to refine who we support and how, to maximize our impact.
Climate – For us, the area of reduce, rethink and look at sustainability has been a bit of a challenge, as again, we are virtual. Measuring our environmental impact has not been easy. We spend a lot of this time sharpening our creative muscles. You can read some of what we do and have done in last week’s blog here. Together with other businesses, we must find more and more ways for businesses/organizations to minimize our impact on the planet.
If I was to add one more “C” to the list it would be Celebration. If you have read this blog through to the end you are someone who has a focus on making a positive impact in the world. So I celebrate that, and you.
All of us together can change the world one business at a time!