I ordered the ' target=_blank>The Board Book from Amazon ($18) to try to get some ideas for how to do a better job as a member of the PASS Board of Directors. It’s not bad reading, though it focuses more on larger companies and the for profit side of things. I marked a few notes from it to share:
- The SEC requires companies to publish the name of any director who attends fewer than 75% of meetings. For PASS, if you miss more than one you’d fall into this category. I think worth doing.
- He mentions that the venue for meetings is important, and it’s worth reconsidering the stereotypical board room in favor of a layout that encourages discussion. I definitely see this, our meetings feel…formal. One big long table. By comparison, our after hours talks are much less formal and in my view much more productive.
- He recommends holding “executive sessions” on a regular basis, where he defines those as no “inside” members present – for our purposes that would be HQ staff. The reason is to make these non-threatening and a normal bit of board business rather than a ‘something must be wrong’ feeling.
- Huge emphasis on preparing the agenda and the meeting. He stresses that board members have to be given plenty of time to read material prior to the meeting, and then make sure the meeting is a discussion about it, not a rehash of the material – or they stop reading in advance. I’ve seen us fall into this a couple ways; not getting the material out in time and covering it all in detail because it went out late and/or some weren’t prepared. He’s definitely against presenting routine reports at board meetings.
- A follow up to that is that good preparation is strenuous for staff, but also incredibly useful even in cases where a meeting might be cancelled. I think this reinforces my feeling that we need four in person meetings a year.
Worth reading, but I’m still going to look for a book that focuses on industry centric non-profits.