I FREQUENTLY USE THIS INTRODUCTION/ icebreaker at board-staff retreats and it almost always results in a new level of mutual understanding and respect: I ask participants to talk about why they care about the organization and want to be a part of it.
Emotional connections to the importance of the organization and to its mission are often revealed in heartfelt ways. Participants revel in newly discovered information about each other. Boards and staffs rarely allow themselves the opportunity to talk in such a way, yet their underlying desires to play a part in an organization are, in fact, the connective tissue that holds the enterprise together. It's a worthy thing to share.
This activity is also a great pick-me-up for those times when a group has just plain run out of steam. It helps bring the energy level up, because it asks people to get in touch with what they deem is personally important.
This discussion is also an effective opening to the creation of vision and mission statements or review of existing ones. Boilerplate or overly clinical statements don't pull people into the work of the organization -- personal stories about why people care do.
Photo: Why Care from Dogtrax