It is therefore essential that the papers on which board members rely are clearly presented and written, so that they do not need to waste their limited time trying to work out what they are being asked to do or searching through long and dense documents looking for the nuggets they need to know.
Clear and consistent formatting of papers can help considerably, as it means board members know where to look when presented with a new subject.
Neither board members nor those who advise them are clairvoyant.
Boards may not be familiar with all the considerations that are relevant to addressing those priorities, or aware of emerging issues.
That research, which included the results of a survey of ICSA members, found there was widespread dissatisfaction with both the quantity and quality of board packs – they were too long and very often they were not focused on the issues or information that really mattered.
In light of this, and to help governance professionals ensure that their board papers, and the processes that are associated with them, are effective and efficient, we set out to develop three new resources: At the end of the article I invited anyone who was willing to help to drop me a line. Some of you provided or sense checked the data on which the cost calculator was built, while others shared examples of how they have tackled the challenges associated with producing targeted and timely board packs.
Conversely, the executive will often have a lot of data at its disposal but may not be able to anticipate what specific information the board wants to have, which might result in it sharing either too much or too little.
The board’s priorities will inevitably change over time and sometimes even from meeting to meeting.
We were contacted by members in listed and private companies, from the voluntary, health and education sectors, and from as far afield as Kenya and the Caribbean.
However, while the challenges might be the same for all organisations, the solutions will not be.