The agenda and the board book have been the centerpieces of board meetings for decades. While the board book provides important information and reporting, the agenda acts as the guide for the course of the board meeting. It may seem like nothing more than a simple list, but the agenda wields serious influence over a board meeting’s progression.
You’re probably thinking, how can a basic list be improved? But we’re here to say that it can be done!
- Ask: Does this agenda item involve everyone?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often boards include agenda items that should actually be discussed in smaller committees or one-on-one outside of the board meeting. Boardroom time should be focused on group-oriented tasks and decision-making in order to get the most collaborative value out of your gathering.
- Get agenda feedback before the actual meeting.
Boards members should have an impact on the creation of an agenda; after all, they’re the people who will be following it! Why not make sure they have the opportunity to see and respond to its layout before you get in the boardroom? In the old days of printed board packets and agendas, this would have been a more difficult task, but the use of board software allows time for members to critique or approve the agenda prior to the meeting. If changes need to happen at the request of the group, board admins can make them quickly and easily. Plenty of business leaders advocate for “pre-work” on the agenda, but the use of a digital agenda helps that work happen with minimal strain for members and admins.
- Make strategy the new centerpiece.
The board book and the agenda play vital roles in the boardroom, but it’s strategic discussion that belongs in the spotlight during meeting time. As McKinsey & Company writes, “The alternative is to develop a dynamic board agenda that explicitly highlights these forward-looking activities and ensures that they get sufficient time over a 12-month period…boards could devote more of their time to the strategic and forward-looking aspects of the agenda.” In other words, it’s time to start using the arrangement of the board agenda to serve the development of strategic thinking. Set aside a large section of time for these discussion in the agenda and stick to it.
Don’t settle for a board agenda that hasn’t been strategically prepared. In order for board members to make the best decisions possible, they need to have time to discuss the topics that matter most. Be sure that your agenda takes these tips into consideration.