The Three C’s of Sustaining a High-Performing Board
Creating a high-performing board takes a considered and intentional approach; working through and embedding a series of mechanisms (People and Information Architecture , Structures & Processes, and Group Dynamics & Board Culture ) to support the board to be effective and efficient in its work and overall purpose.
I recently led a live webinar with BoardPro on Creating and Sustaining a High-Performance Board. You can watch the replay here and listen to the podcast here. I now want to address the ‘sustaining’ element of a high-performance board. It’s clear that time and intention are necessary for creating an effective board. They are also vital ingredients for sustaining an effective board.
The four pillars of board effectiveness (People and Information Architecture , Structures & Processes, and Group Dynamics & Board Culture) that you used to create your effective board are useful as a framework for regular review and discussion on how these are working for you as a board, for individual board members, for the organisation, and whether they do indeed support you in making high-quality decisions.
To ensure you remain an effective board there are three C’s that can help you.
All effective boards utilise an annual board calendar to ensure they address all of the work that is required of them, and that the board’s workload is smoothed out across the year.
One of those items is usually a board review of some sort. Consider adding into your board review an evaluation of the four pillars of board effectiveness. How deep your review needs to be will depend on the level of dis-function (or need for change) present in the board’s operations and output.
At a minimum, an annual scheduled check-in discussion about how the board is getting its job done (or re-evaluating its purpose) will be valuable. From there, the board can assess the depth of review required, or if small tweaks are all that’s necessary to keep you on track and working effectively.
All of the spaces in between that annual calendar entry provide opportunities for the board to speak about how it does its work and whether improvements or changes are necessary. It will not help to wait until that one time in the calendar year to evolve or shift how the board can be more effective and/or efficient.
Conversations during or at the end of board meetings can help to shed some light – in real time – on any emerging problems coming from the work done thus far on improving their effectiveness. Particularly as your board works through the ‘storming’ and ‘norming’ part of implementing new board infrastructure, conversations open up opportunities for further refinement and adaptations to ensure the mechanisms are truly supporting board effectiveness.
A simple addition to your meeting agenda will enable the opportunity for conversations.
If nothing changes, nothing changes.
If your board is frustrated with how it’s getting its work done, it has to make the changes necessary.
Additionally, if the board has decided to work differently, it needs to embed those changes into its workflows and board meetings. This may involve working with management to embed the systems, structures, and processes that the board needs to be effective.
Part of your role as board members is to lead change; what better place to start than with yourselves?!
Setting up the four pillars of board effectiveness is not a one-off, set-and-forget project. Board effectiveness is an ongoing evolution. And that requires being comfortable with change.
It’s not change for change’s sake; rather, it’s change toward a desired outcome: board effectiveness.
These three C’s will help your board in sustaining high-performance. They will enable time, intention and improvement in how your board gets its job done.
How does your board ensure it works on itself toward improving its effectiveness?