Board reviews are a critically important part of running an effective board. However, the process is not valuable in and of itself. The only benefit comes through improved performance of the board, and hence the organisation. The board is always time constrained, so it is possible for a review to take up too much time and too many resources relative to other priorities. These five signs may indicate that your review process may be taking too long:
1. The process becomes a distraction
Board reviews generally involve both board members and management. This inevitably takes them away from their role of running the business. If your board review process goes for more than a few weeks it can detract from the job at hand. To ensure you get the best results, it’s important that your review is conducted efficiently and completed quickly.
2. There is no clear benefit to the organisation
A board review is not an end goal, it is a process that should benefit the organisation by improving the performance of the board. The purpose of having a board is not to get a good review, but often the review process can be designed to achieve this. If there is no perceivable benefit to the organisation then any time spent on the review is too long.
3. The review runs beyond two board meetings
The review process should be time-boxed between board meetings and if it runs beyond two board meetings the process is generally too long. Even if the review involves conducting individual interviews, these should be conducted within a short period of time and reported promptly.
4. Members of the board lose interest in the review
The board’s attention should be maintained all the way from kickoff through to action. The more elongated the board review process the more difficult this will be. If board members are no longer interested in the process or try to discredit it, the process has probably gone on for too long.
5. Directors can’t remember the context for issues
Through the review, issues will be identified. If directors have to try and remember the context for issues or feedback then the review took too long. The issues and commentary should remain fresh and current, and time sensitive issues must be dealt with quickly.
Directors may even try to drag out the process, particularly if they don’t want to hear the feedback. To ensure this doesn’t happen, the chair must be clear on priorities and what turnaround times are expected of everyone involved in the process.
A rule of thumb to consider when designing your board review process is that the process should be completed in no more than four to six weeks. External and internal environments change quickly. For a board review to remain relevant it must be completed in a matter of weeks and actions be put in place quickly.
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Allie Gertz / About Author
Allie Gertz is a senior writer at BoardOutlook, a software platform that delivers a standardised and rigorous platform for board evaluations and professional development.