As a board member preparing for the upcoming board meeting, you have lots of information to review and want to get to the important stuff quickly!
You don’t want to be 9 pages in and still wondering if the new marketing program has improved sales. Nor do you want to be forced to search old minutes for the performance targets you agreed to. However this is pretty common, with poorly structured and unfocused CEO reports this sort of scenario plays out all the time. It’s frustrating!!
Wouldn’t it be great if the first pages of the CEO’s report provided a concise summary of the business’ performance and needs, then it clearly outlined the key areas you need to prepare for? It would certainly reduce some of your frustrations and make things easier going to the next meeting.
Good news! This is very achievable to produce a CEO Report that delights the board, with a few key principles:
1. Get the meeting structure right
Directors often think the main purpose of a board meeting is to be briefed by the chief executive about “what’s going on”. However, the main role of the board is to ensure the organization is achieving what it should.
The Agenda is the centerpiece of every board meeting and should centre on key discussions and decisions, with supporting papers laying out context and relevant information.
A CEO Report is the ultimate supporting paper, laying out the general business context from which the reader can drill into more specific information for key decisions. The primary purpose of the CEO Report is therefore to provide a context summary, with the Agenda and specific supporting papers to provide enough detail to drive decisions.
2. Be clear about governance-level targets and concerns
In order for the CEO to produce a report that provides value to the board, the board (in conjunction with the CEO) must first clearly define the targets and outcomes that will mark “success”. These measures guide what information is needed from the CEO and eliminates the CEO heading down a side ally.
It also ensures the CEO Report is future-focused, enabling the board to be more effective in supporting the CEO based on what might happen, rather than reacting to what has already happened which usually leads to ‘steering by looking in the rear vision mirror’.
3. Develop a CEO Report structure that works for your organization
Once targets have been clearly defined, the CEO should be able to produce a report that clearly and easily gives the board the information they need. As a rule, the first two pages should be enough for board members to gather a broad understanding of the position of the business, without having to read any further.
The CEO Report template should cover all the main components, such as:
- Key metrics (e.g. customer, financial and production)
- Key discussions/decisions for the upcoming meeting (should marry in with the agenda)
- Top of Mind for CEO- what’s keeping them up at night
- Big Wins & Learnings
- CEO Summary (setting the scene for the board in a few sentences)
- Additional Metrics
If your organisation can implement these principles you’ll be well on the way to efficient preparation, productive meetings, and a smooth relationship between the board and CEO.
To find out more about how BoardPro can support you in streamlining your board processes for greater efficiency and effectiveness, check out this page here.
Author’s Acknowledgement: Principles 1 and 2 above are drawn from the work of Graeme Nahkies and this article in particular. Graeme is an advisor to BoardPro and the content is used with his permission. Learn more about Graeme and his work here.