Board Affairs

What makes a good meeting agenda

The general culture of most meetings is backward. When it comes to board meetings, it is absurd. Lots of board meeting time, limited outcomes.
For effective governance, this must change.
Many organization’s board meetings agenda are distributed wrongly:

(i) status updates – 80%;
(ii) strategy discussions – 10% and
(iii) administration issues – 10%!

In the above agenda, boards or meetings spend a lot of time discussing history. If the results are bad, a lot of time is wasted in pointing figures and firefighting. No company grows by focusing on negative things. History is good as far as learning from it is concerned. You don’t need to spend over 80% of your meeting time discussing what happened and what to learn from it. All you need is a good report that highlights what was planned to be done, what was done, results achieved, and lessons learned. These lessons must then be used to inform strategy and the next steps.
Achievement or growth happens when there is action. Once you define the strategy and plan of action, then consider the resources to make it happen. Stop wasting your company meeting time discussing the past.

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This morning I visit visited a company at 7:30 am, they told me that management is in a meeting. I went to visit another client in the vicinity. At 12:30 pm, I returned to the prospect. He sent me a message that they are still in a management meeting. to me, that is a red flag of a poor meeting agenda.
This must change to:

(i) status updates at 10%
(ii) strategy 80% and
(iii) administration issues at 10%.

When the board distributes time like this it becomes more focused on the long-term of the business which improves the board’s value addition.

The big part of your agenda must focus on the future – because that is where the business will spend the rest of its life. Why bother too much about spoilt milk, other than learning why it got spoilt in the first place and then fixing it once and for all?

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Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2019. All rights reserved.

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