Want to make an impact on the boards you serve? Insist on quality board papers. Each board paper must cover the following sections at a minimum:
- What is the decision at hand? What are the present challenges that the board must meet to discuss and find solutions? Make such an issue top on the board’s agenda. The fewer the items on the agenda, the more effective the board meeting.
- What are the options do we have? Describe each option fully showing the advantages and disadvantages of each option. The board paper packs must focus on complete but succinct insights about the decisions.
- What are the outcomes or results of each option? Evaluate each outcome against the known decision appraisal tools and models – financial viability, social impact viability, environmental impact viability, and technology impact viability notwithstanding the impact on other capabilities. Again, quality board paper packs must provide details about the consequences for each option.
- Recommend the best option based on the one which offers the best outcomes. The board provides insights that management and staff do not have. For best results, the board needs quality papers in terms of well-researched and summarized data. The board then can save its time by examining the other options against the recommended option and decide.
- The results? Assess the results after the options have been implemented. The board must continuously ask management for the status updates of their decisions to track progress.
Board effectiveness depends on several factors. The quality of the board processes, the leadership style of the board chairman, and the quality of the board packs contribute a lot.
Has the board agreed on the style and layout of the board papers to improve the quality of the papers and consistency to aid their analysis? Does the Board Chair engage with the executive to challenge their quality documentation and timely provision of the board papers? Do board members spend their time in analysis paralysis or just considering the options provided. Where the board packs are comprehensive and of high quality, the board achieves more as lots of time is spent in considering the available options and drawing from individual board member experience and expertise instead of researching and interrogating the executive.
If you want to win in your role on the board you serve, invest more in improving the quality of the board papers.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.