Serving on a board of directors can be overwhelming – especially that first year or two. There’s a lot to learn, a lot to read, and plenty of pressure to understand everything right away. The work never truly ends.
Board directors are expected to keep up with a slew of moving parts, keep in contact with stakeholders at all levels, and make the time to think through big challenges on the horizon long before action is required. Checking out for months at a time is not an option. Neither is showing up unprepared to a meeting, or delegating the important thinking. But at the same time, no one can be an expert on everything, all the time.
So what is a board director to do?
How to Discover Your Irreducible Minimum
We believe that there is an “Irreducible Minimum” that every board director should understand at all times. It’s a set of mission-critical gut check and a foundational understanding of the company you serve and your role on its board. In fact, we believe in this kind of board evaluation and effectiveness touch-point so strongly that we built it into Cloud Concinnity®, Click here to read more about how our smart platform automates this kind of evaluation, or here to watch a quick 90 second preview of our platform.
To take a deep dive into how well you know your own “irreducible minimum”, work through the following series of topics and questions. Invite your fellow directors on the board to do the same. Compare answers and see what you learn — and see what that means for your company.
1. How well do you know the company?
Can you explain what your company does and how it does it in a few sentences?
What are a few of the key numbers that really help tell that story?
Describe your company’s typical customer.
What makes your company’s solution the best option for that customer?
What is your company’s central strategy this year?
What are a few key goals & landmarks along the way?
What will it take to make or keep your company profitable?
2. How do you help?
Is the board actively engaged in developing strategy or green lighting management’s plan?
Which company goal are you playing a personal role in pushing forward?
How are company and director progress measured?
3. How do you support all stakeholders?
Who are the company’s stakeholders, both major and minor?
What are their goals for the company?
How well is your company doing in meeting their needs?
How does the company navigate conflicting stakeholder goals?
4. Do you participate in policy-making?
What are the most important company policies to you?
How are you taking part in the oversight of those policies?
5. How do you advise, support, and challenge management?
Can you name the senior leadership and their strengths & weaknesses?
When was the last time your board had a fulsome executive session discussion about management performance?
What area was a highlight and how did you recognize it?
What area needed growth and how are you supporting that growth?
6. How do you contribute?
How well do you prepare for board meetings on a scale of 1 – 10?
What is the best question you’ve asked lately?
When was the last time you and your board self-evaluated?
So, how did you do? Do you indeed know the irreducible minimum about your company? Do you feel good about your answers to these important questions? If yes, that’s great to hear. If not, it’s time to get caught up.