Value adding is not all about figures and money, put your customer experiences first.
Value-adding board members will learn more about possible solutions.
Value adding board members are able to help drive business outcomes, by fostering entrepreneurship, innovation and increasing your return on investment (ROI). Today passive board members can simply be classed as observers and of doubtful value to the organisation. Passive behaviour does not stimulate positive activity.
I’m a huge fan of recruiting independent board members I love this idea of having the independent pull the others into line as they strive to provide objectivity and perspective.
Even though an independent director may not have a financial stake in the business, they can be a great catalyst when it comes to making the hard decisions, Directors with a stake in the business can often find it difficult when things are nott going to plan.
“Your board members must be totally committed to finding ways in which you can reduce the impact of new technology and global competition while maintaining a clear focus on value adding to your customers”. Peter Sergeant
Often with new boards, there is a tendency for the agenda to be almost totally devoted to operational issues. This is usually because of inexperience. To resolve this issue, apart from training programs for the directors, the appointment of experienced independent chairperson can make all the difference.
Knowing how to run a meeting is one thing, but being able to deal with important issues that will impact the organisation, either positively or negatively, is quite another. If your board meetings are painful and unproductive, it’s generally because of a poorly run meeting with a frivolous agenda.
The board meeting needs to be a productive and insightful meeting. It needs to be attended by persons that are already very familiar with the business, including the CEO. The CEO should be able to bring their expertise and insights about the operation of the business to help create a productive meeting.
Most inexperienced CEOs dread board meetings because they think they need to create all sorts of materials especially for the board, and need to spend most of their time in the meeting educating the board on the business.
So by the time the meeting is done, nothing really gets accomplished. It should be the responsibility of the board members to identify what they need to know and to focus on their real roles. CEOs and other observers should only be there to assist and provide information when called upon to do so, not run the agenda.
Every board needs a good balance between management members, investor members and independent members. There should be a good mix of skills across the main function of the organisation, marketing, planning, finance and so on. Keep the number of seats an odd number to eliminate the chance of a deadlocked.
For small organisations, a board of three is probably too small, and seven is too big. Often small organisations, particularly in the non-profit sector, tend to have far too many people on the board and it becomes unruly and dysfunctional.
The thing to avoid when putting a board together is to avoid including those people who just put their hand up because no one else would, and those who want to be there for an ego trip.
A good first step for a new board member can be to gain a thorough understanding of your customer’s buying journey and the products and services the organisation delivers.
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I find the best board members are the people really understand the importance of ‘giving back’ and understanding that every decision they make impacts someone else’s life, whether they be a customer, an employee, a family member or a supplier.
I for one, have always found that it is the successful people in life who are more than happy to give back by helping those who ask for their advice and support. Knowledge is power, so the saying goes. But knowledge is only powerful if it can be used effectively in the overall management of the business.
While boards have a lot of issues to address, perhaps the most important is to foster strong customer service. If they put a focus on the customer experience it will create loyalty, increase community awareness, and encourage future purchases to grow the organisation.