Do you have board meetings or bored meetings? – Mark MacLeod

May 10, 2023 - Mark MacLeod

Do you have board meetings or bored meetings?

Most CEOs I know do not look forward to their board meetings. This is especially true for boards that are dominated by institutional investors vs. Independents.

This is a wasted opportunity.

While the CEO reports to the board, the CEO should still treat the board as a strategic asset and work to create a board that delivers value.

This means managing the board the way you do any other team.

Now, I get that in many cases you can’t change team members. You can’t tell the investor that adds no value that you are replacing them on the board.

But, you don’t have to just accept shitty board meetings either.

Here are some suggestions for getting more value from your board meetings:

– Create a documented standard for what you expect from board members. Set the rules of engagement. This can include expectations to read materials in advance, send questions in advance, separate managing their investment from being a director, etc, etc.

If you are also the chair of the board then insist that you are involved in all board communications. No side bars. No politics. Maximum transparency.

– Send board packs out well in advance and ask for comments in advance. This ensures pre-reads.

– Keep the governance portion efficient. Imagine you are a VC sitting on many boards. If most of these meetings are spent approving option grants and hearing updates that you can read, then you are the one having a BORED meeting.

– Have one strategic theme per meeting: get the governance out of the way, then go deep on one value-add theme per meeting. This enables your board members to sink their teeth in and add value.

One meeting could be focused on competitive landscape, another on employee engagement & culture, another on fundraising / exit landscape, another on budget, annual planning, etc.

– Have a slide in each meeting showing how specific board members added value since the previous meeting. Nothing like a little friendly competition.

– Ask for feedback. Do a 360 review annually. But at the same give feedback to your directors. Accountability is a two way street.

– Deal with issues as they come up. Don’t tolerate things. That’s when small issues become big and then you hate doing board meetings.

What am I missing? What you have done to remove boredom from your board meetings?

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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