How to Build a Strategic Board Agenda

November 29, 2021

November 29, 2021

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Governance Mastery

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Sean McDonald

The board should be focused on the specific things required to spark and propel growth in the organisation. Some approaches to help the board see the bigger picture include using a governance manual, board charter or some detailed description of the board’s duties that distinguishes it from management duties.

A board also needs a compass to direct its activities and keep it focused on its major responsibilities, so creating an original strategy requires a detailed board work plan. This helps guide everyone’s discussions to identify crucial matters of relevance to the board. The work plan should also include matters that touch on policy formulation and strategy development.

Meeting agendas are also important for strategic thinking and planning creative strategies. 

To begin, try creating an inverted agenda: Start with the mentally demanding and most important matters at the beginning of the meeting. Then discuss extra matters like the minutes of the last meeting and reports at the later part of the meeting. By doing this, you ensure that the board’s efficiency is optimised.

With that said, it is necessary that the board knows exactly why the agenda is designed the way it is to deeply connect with the agenda. This is because, without this sense of ownership and purpose, there would be little or no impact made by their deliberations.

Since board meetings are not an everyday affair, time spent by the board discussing and planning for the future of the business is limited. Therefore, it is important that the time is spent on the most important matters as it pertains to strategy, effective improvement and growth of the organisation. When the board members and chief executive are not clear on the responsibilities of the board, it becomes much easier to wander around discussions that are out of the scope, which ends up wasting precious time as well as potentially having much larger organisational implications and consequences.

Because of the need to have a clear understanding of the board’s responsibilities, each director should have sufficient time to prepare and understand the substance of the report. Board members should be equipped with knowledge and insight prior to entering the meeting. Without this sense of direction, meetings can centre around irrelevant financial and operational reports.

To achieve everything discussed above, the board needs members who are interested in the top-level strategic duty, more so than the operational activities going on in the business. The goal is to have a board where members contribute their sound intellectual dexterity and cutting-edge leadership in good measure to the overall elevation of the organisation. 

Hence, the role of strategic governance of board members is not for everyone.

Finally, an essential tool all boards need is one that monitors and scores board members on their performance and contributions. This can be achieved by organising a board and director performance review scheme each year. 

Nowadays, the expectations of the board have become higher from stakeholders, so performance reviews can help determine how board members can improve their performance.

You can read more on how to build an agenda here

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