It might surprise you how little time most boards have to attend to the “must dos” on their checklists, let alone brainstorm, plan and execute activities that will help the board positively impact their future. Therefore, an effective board work plan is essential for boards on a time crunch (news flash: that’s probably most boards).
Nowadays, the pressure on boards is increasing.
Rapid changes in the external operating environment are constantly pushing boards to be versatile and adapt. Peremptory demands that were nonexistent a decade ago now hover around every corner, clamouring for attention. Pressure to engage with and balance different groups of stakeholders is ramping up. The Internet not only serves as a distraction, but it also requires fastidious attentiveness for organisations to maintain a positive online image. It is no wonder that the focus of boards is now diluting.
Boards often inadvertently overestimate how much time they actually have to accomplish everything, leading to agenda overload. Few boards consider their potential workload with respect to the aggregate amount of time they have for board meetings in comparison to everything else. This is because many aren’t aware of how little time they really have for vital board dialogue. As a direct result, many items are skimmed over rather than carefully looked into.
To have more effective and efficient board meetings, boards first need to be more aware and question how their time is spent. Are they attending the right meetings? Are they doing the right job and contributing value to the organisation? Are they consistent and effective in prioritising their tasks? Once these questions are answered and there is a clear agenda, then boards can be more intentional with how they spend their precious time.
This is where an effective board work plan is an extremely valuable tool.
Boards should start with key decisions and discussions first, scheduling compliance and operational items later in the agenda. That way, meaty topics get the time they deserve and if the board has to rush, it rushes over compliance matters - that whilst must be done, actually don't impact the organisation greatly in most cases.
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Improve Board Effectiveness using an Annual Work Plan
Improve your board effectiveness and learn the art of board annual work planning from Steven Bowman, Graeme Nahkies, and Giselle McLachlan, some of Australasia's leading experts in business governance.