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Board Meeting as a System
Batko OS #4
In the last three editions, I gave you a system for
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The last couple of systems have been big changes to the way you work and live.
For this edition, let’s dive a couple of levels deeper into a more tactical system.
Board meetings can feel like the high-school principal’s office.
The scary place where you get called when you’re in trouble with uncomfortable conversations behind closed doors.
First, the “scary” part - you do have additional requirements as a director of your company and if you join a board take the directors’ course. As a founder, at least read up on your director’s duties.
In reality, board meetings are just another meeting.
But one which everyone takes seriously with real preparation and post-meeting results and actions. In my books, it’s the gold standard of meetings and I would encourage everyone to take all or some of that meeting hygiene to your other meetings.
The beauty of board meetings is that you get to discuss the biggest strategic decisions with your most invested stakeholders.
It doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating.
It is your time to get input from your most powerful supporters.
Who is this for❓
First-time founders and investors who want to get their founders quickly up-to-speed.
It is intended as a starting place for founders going into their first board meeting or founders wanting to upgrade their board hygiene.
This is a system for you to run those board meetings smoothly and get the most out of them.
The framework is split into three overarching parts
- pre-meeting, meeting and post-meeting.
💡 The golden rule is that nothing at a board meeting should be a surprise to any board member. If it is, then something went wrong along the way. 💡
1. 📢 Healthy Info Flow - Real-time Comms + 1:1s
Communication is absolutely key to the relationship. Even more so with your biggest stakeholders. Board Meetings are only one mechanism to communicate.
I’d recommend a monthly 1:1 with each board member to keep them in the loop of what’s going on. I’ve also seen many founders use a Whatsapp group with all their board members to increase the flow of information. It gives you another channel for real-time communication and stakeholder alignment. Use both forums to share your biggest breakthroughs as well as the lowest lows.
Bad news builds trust.
Trust is what you need for the long term relationship that you’re building with your board.
Whatsapp real-time chatting, regular 1:1s and consistent board meetings are your stage to build those relationships.
Let information flow freely.
2. ⚔️ Choose Your Own Adventure
How often have you been in a meeting that had an agenda, but got completely side-tracked and you didn’t get through it, nor had a clear conclusion?
Your agenda did not match the hijackers’.
As most board meetings only happen 4 times a year.
You really don't want that to happen to you.
What’s the best way to align on an agenda?
Send it early and request input from all other board members.
Give them the opportunity to choose their own board meeting adventure / agenda.
Send an email two weeks before the Board Meeting with:
Subject: [Company] Board Meeting - Choose Your Own Adventure
Mention the Top 3 things you want to cover in the meeting
Mention any other topics you think could be worthwhile discussing
Ask everyone for input and give a deadline
3. 📝 Send deck + ask for input
The simplest way to ensure there are no surprises in the board meeting (this is probably the most obvious thing you’ve ever read) is to share the deck a week ahead of the meeting.
Share it a week in advance, ask for questions and input.
Add new material based on the questions.
4. 📄 Send final deck
…and finally, send the final deck at least three days ahead of the meeting.
At this stage, you
openly and regularly communicate with all board members outside the board meeting
asked for input into the agenda
asked for input on the board deck
shared the board deck twice ahead of the meeting.
You’re set up for a constructive conversation about the biggest strategic areas of your business. Congratulations.
1. Expect everyone has read the board deck
You’ve over-communicated. You’ve shared your deck on time.
You can safely assume everyone has read your board deck.
You don’t have to waste time and can launch straight into the meeting.
2. The Meeting Template
The meeting itself isn’t rocket science, as it’s the same as any other meeting. The only operational difference is that you should take minutes. Either take notes as you go, or I can recommend bringing a team member along as an observer to take notes.
Instead of covering the meeting itself, let’s have a look at the slides.
The core sections are:
2. Last board meeting follow up
Closing the loop is good hygiene. What were the action items from the last board meeting and what did you do about them?
This is an essential part of the board meeting, as board members have directors’ duties. You can read up on them here. In short, directors oversee that the company’s finances are done correctly, it isn’t trading insolvent, nor breaking any laws.
Hence, you want to cover all financial and legal risks, such as cashflow, runway, legal disputes, insurance and any other business-critical risks in this section.
4. Top 3 Takeaways
Some also call it an executive summary. In short, if someone was only going to read this slide, what are the three key takeaways they should know about from this board update?
5. Quarterly Summary - GBU + Major Risks
A one page summary of the key things happening in the business. It's a high-level summary of the Good, Bad and Ugly as well as any major business risks.
6. Topic # 1
Topic 1-3 is where you should be spending the majority of the time. These are the three big strategic areas you’d love to get the boards input on.
7. Topic # 2
8. Topic # 3
9. Key Decisions
This is my favorite section. In case you do get side-tracked make sure you control the conversation to allow ample time for this slide before the meeting ends.
Here you should outline all decisions which you need the board to make by the time the meeting ends. This can be a handy tool to bring the meeting back on track and focus on the decisions which need to be made right now.
You can include any other information you might want to refer to during the meeting. Ideally, this is only background reading, provides context but is not essential to the main discussion points.
👋 Post Meeting
Puh. Meeting done. But it’s not over yet.
This part is best done straight after the meeting as your memory is still fresh.
1. 🖋 Write the Minutes
Ideally, you or someone else was taking notes, but you will still have to clean them up.
Minutes cover everything that happened in the meeting, including who was in attendance, date, location, time, votes, what decisions were made, resolutions passed, etc.
2. 💌 Board Follow up
Send your board an email with:
Minutes - ask everyone to review and provide comments (either as PDF or personally prefer it as a google doc with comment rights)
Action steps - which is also your second slide in your next Board Meeting
3. ✍️ Sign Off
Once you’ve received input from everyone, send the Minutes to all Board Members to be signed.
You just demystified the principal’s office and made it your home ground.
Other Great Board Resources
My Ask for You
💌 If you started using one of the above tips or one of your friends should
- share this on Twitter and tag me @batkomichael!