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Best Practices For Managing A Board Meeting & Agenda [Case Study]
Are your board meetings lacking strategic focus and organization? Read how we successfully reimagined the process for a client in just three steps.
When the leaders of your organization meet, it is incredibly important to make the short time they’re gathered together valuable. That means running a tight schedule and keeping discussion topics focused on the highest priorities. This is no easy task. We recently helped a client change the way it managed its board meetings and agendas in order to get more out of them. Here’s the story of how we reimagined the process for our client.
Board Meetings Before ClearPoint: The Problems
The client held board meetings every month where its leadership team would check in on the organization’s overall strategy. Board meeting agendas focused on reviewing key performance indicators (KPIs) and projects that were contributing to the organization’s high-level goals.
While this is the right mindset, the way board meetings were being run created some challenges. Some of the biggest problems for our client included:
Time-Consuming Preparations & Presentations
Reports were created from scratch for each board meeting. During meetings, presenters had to navigate between different information sources (software programs, applications, desktop files, etc.) to find the correct reports. Overall, it was taking too much time to prep and execute board meetings.
The client used Excel to display KPI data and charts, Word to track progress on measures and provide qualitative analysis, and PowerPoint to show additional charts and dashboards. The inconsistent formats and assessments made it difficult for leadership to understand progress and decide on the most strategic next steps.
Disjointed Focus Areas
Nonstrategic and strategic initiatives were presented together, causing the discussions to seesaw between tactical and high-level goals. The leadership team’s time and focus should have remained on the strategic level.
No Strategic Alignment
Perhaps most importantly, reports and other topics on the board meeting agenda didn’t show a clear alignment between KPIs, projects, and strategic goals. The leadership team couldn’t truly discern how the organization’s efforts were contributing to its long-term master plan.
Download this guide to learn about the best ways to run a leadership meeting specifically for reviewing your organization’s strategy.
Board Meetings After ClearPoint: The Solution
The client had been using ClearPoint’s strategy software to track operational KPIs and tactical projects, but had not yet leveraged our system’s features for what they are ultimately designed for: managing an organization’s strategy and all of its associated elements (strategic goals, measures, initiatives, etc.).
After learning more about what ClearPoint was capable of and seeing real-life examples from other companies, our client worked with us to rethink how to run a board meeting. There were three primary steps we took to overhaul their meetings:
1. Build Better Board Meeting Reports
To improve what was actually presented in the meetings, ClearPoint’s team worked with the client to create an assortment of reports that clearly aligned their strategic goals, KPIs, and projects. We began by pulling the data the client was already tracking outside of ClearPoint (in Excel or other programs) into our system, and then built reports specifically tailored for their board meeting agendas. These included an objectives report and multiple reports for measures, projects, and action items. Here are some examples:
- Strategic Objectives
- Measures (KPIs)
These reports are easy to update each month with relevant information because they exist as board meeting templates that can be generated with the latest data in just a few clicks.
Building better board meeting reports solved several problems in one fell swoop:
- Presenters save hours of preparation time by using pre-built reports that automatically pulled in the latest data.
- The leadership team can better understand efforts and progress with standardized report formats, from layouts and colors to measures and analysis, and therefore make more strategic decisions. The reports also include hyperlinks, allowing the leadership team to click on data points for more information and context.
- Board meeting discussions focus exclusively on big-picture strategy instead of individual efforts. All reports show a clear alignment between strategic goals, KPIs, and projects; if any reports can’t be closely tied to strategy or are more operations-oriented, they are eliminated from the board meeting agenda template in order to maintain the strategic focus.
2. Reorganize Board Meeting Agendas
To improve how the client ran and managed board meetings, we rebuilt their agenda. We started by designing it in the format of a summary report. Agenda topics are arranged based on logical discussion flows (for example, highest to lowest strategic priorities) and each item on the agenda is hyperlinked to the associated report for that topic. It looked something like this:
The new board meeting agenda template has several benefits:
- Presenters easily navigate from report to report by clicking on the hyperlinks, all while staying within the same web application. This saves time and eliminates the confusion of having to find the right report amongst 10+ open documents.
- The leadership team immediately sees a clear outline of what is going to be covered in the meeting, allowing them to prepare their thoughts and follow along in a logical manner.
- All information is centralized and organized in one system. Instead of information being scattered across programs and files, a person simply has to open the board meeting agenda (during the meeting or even after) and click on a topic to see a report. They can then click on data within the report for further information, such as to determine why a certain KPI is showing a “red alert” status.
3. Make Board Meeting Information More Accessible
By rebuilding the board meeting agenda and reports in ClearPoint, it is now very easy for the client to share information internally and externally. Reports and agendas can be exported as PDFs, posted on intranets, or even printed as hard copies. This has helped the client get more people in the organization involved in strategy and leadership decisions, as well as keep information consistent and organized throughout its many divisions.
If your leadership and board meetings lack organization and strategic focus, we’d be happy to take a look at your process and help you reimagine them as well. Contact us to set up a quick chat.