Most company boards meet to discuss progress and check for problems, but how many boardroom meetings can you say have been truly effective? Is it the people, their prejudices or the politics that prevent you from making real progress? Here are five topics that will make your board more effective.
How much time is spent talking about the future? Probably not enough given the pressure to deliver quarterly results. Increase the time spent talking about future scenarios and what opportunities and risks lie in the future both near and long term.
Yes you worry about revenue producing ones like customers and investors, but how much time do you devote to the costly one like staff and suppliers? If you only ever seek to reduce costs you will inevitably compromise quality, so where is the line drawn?
Do you have a clear understanding of who might win your customers not just with a better product or service but a completely different one. Do you spend enough time considering demand for a product or service or perhaps too much on supply issues?
Do you have sufficient information to reach a decision at this meeting and what would be at risk is you deferred in order to reduce uncertainty? Can you justify the need to make this today as progress or is it simply activity? Know the difference.
Can you say at the end of the board meeting that the sustainability of the business has been improved by your decisions? Are you building value for the future and creating a legacy or are you simply working to preserve the value of your own pension?
You don’t of course need to set these as agenda items, but either the CEO or company secretary should try to engineer room for these as a dose of reality. An effective board is one that uses the collective time of the board members most economically.
Garry Honey is the founder of reputation risk consultancy Chiron Risk.