I’ve adopted JLM as my online mentor. His advice is priceless and he disseminates it through his comments on AVC. Here’s another cracker on Board Meetings, it’s a comment he left on Fred Wilson’s blog here :
Every Board has to have a leader, appropriate committees, charters Board, ethics, nominations, audit, etc and it has to have an “operating agreement”.
The Board Chairman has to be the guy who can develop, nurture and burnish the relationship w/ the CEO and it takes work to do that. He should have a bit of gray hair and more than a few rodeo ticket stubs.
If you think just getting folks to turn off their phones and shut down their laptops/iPads is an “operating agreement” then you are in first grade metaphorically speaking.
The CEO or Board Chairman has to develop a standard meeting agenda which includes the normal stuff but also time for topics like — education, what can kill us?, brainstorming.
It has to be time weighted — budget the time and have a time keeper who keeps everyone on track. Nicely, gentlemanly but firmly.
Brainstorming — focused on strategic issues — is particularly important but cannot be done justice if it is visited as everybody is thinking about dinner, rush hour traffic and is fatigued by the prior meeting.
The Board materials have to be in the hands of the Board 4 days before the meeting and they have to be comprehensive and include info that is NOT going to be discussed at the Board meeting. If the Board reads and understands the material in the book, then discussion becomes much more limited.
You have to keep a parking lot — the place you stick discussions that are not completed and which merit future discussion. Then you have to re-visit it.
Board members have to meet for part of the time out of the presence of management and have a quick checklist — how’s our CEO doing, we doing our jobs as Board members?
If you develop these disciplines before times of crisis, then when the crisis comes, you will have the personal and emotional capital to deal with things.
More importantly if you have an orderly process, an operating agreement and a good leader — you will have more time than you can ever imagine to spend on the important things.
Always eat together as it is a natural decompression mechanism.