The Model Board Package

One of the least favourite things about raising money from VCs is having to deal with board meetings once you’re funded. Most board meetings suck. I’ve sat through my fair share on the company side. To date, as an investor, I’ve tried to avoid them favouring regular informal interactions.

But since board meetings are inevitable companies and investors need to work better to get the most out of them. Done right, they can be of huge value.

I’ve included some readings on how to do boards right below. In addition, I have prepared a model board package. This draws VERY heavily on the amazing board packages that portfolio company Localmind puts together. The structure is simple yet comprehensive:

- Get all agenda items and objectives established up front so we know what to cover

- Get approvals and governance out of the way

- Give clear, quick updates on all aspects of the business

- Share dashboard, KPIs, roadmaps and get the board thinking as an extension of management

If it was up to me, I’d limit formal meetings to governance and a brief CEO update, then terminate the meeting, but keep everyone around for an informal advisory session to dig into the dashboard and roadmaps.

As you will see, the model board package has not been formatted. Just the outline. Feel free to try it out at your board meetings and make sure they’re not “bored” meetings!

Readings:

http://www.freddestin.com/blog/2010/06/saving-time-in-preparing-for-board-meetings.html/

http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2010/02/12/running-more-effective-board-meetings-at-startups/

  • http://twitter.com/jpaine Jeffrey Paine

    thanks for this…good research for our new web app @hardcircled

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  • http://twitter.com/rankinthomas thomas

    There should also be one chart or infographic every meeting that mckinsey kill us for.

  • http://twitter.com/rankinthomas thomas

    Good stuff Mark. Friday share with the team!

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  • http://twitter.com/VentureBuilder @VentureBuilder

    Thanks Mark and good feedback in comments !

  • Clint Schmidt

    I wish every company followed this model. Very concise. Seems like everything you need, nothing you don't.

    • http://startupcfo.ca Mark MacLeod

      Thanks Clint. Hope you can use it with your companies

  • http://twitter.com/paul__sullivan @paul__sullivan

    Mark, great post regarding a necessary part of business. Here's a few ideas learned (from both sides of the table):

    - Get the package out 3-4 days in advance & request board members review & come prepared.
    - At beginning of mtg, CEO or chair should confirm all have read materials (which should leave more time for discussions)
    - Use accompanying graphics to depict dashboard metrics / actuals vs budget
    - As you indicated, key challenges should be met with mgmt recommendations &/or alternatives to be discussed. Consider including a contingency plan if warranted.
    - One more slide showing important changes in the external environment (market, competition, technology, etc), if relevant, can be helpful in explaining key challenges.
    - Get the minutes out within 24 hours, request changes and approvals immediately, rather than wait for next meeting.

    Great stuff. Thanks.

    • http://startupcfo.ca Mark MacLeod

      Great suggestions Paul – especially the bonus slide on the landscape.

  • bfeld

    Great board meeting template – I just put this up on AsktheVC as the VC post of the day.
    http://www.askthevc.com/wp/archives/2012/01/macle

    Give me a hand on my new book (Startup Boards) and fill out this survey so I can get some of your stories.
    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/X9PPQBK

    • http://startupcfo.ca Mark MacLeod

      Thanks Brad. Will definitely fill out the survey

  • Dave Litwiller

    The focus is very good in this package to keep the discussion forward looking and execution oriented.

    The regular board package should often also include stock options grants recommended by management to be approved by the board, as well as a bullet list of the CEO’s and CFO’s top worries in order to guide the board’s preparation.

    • http://startupcfo.ca Mark MacLeod

      Thanks Dave. Yes, those items come upfront. Options under Governance and CEO / CFO stuff under State of the company

  • http://twitter.com/_KenKaufman @_KenKaufman

    Mark,

    This is great content…good advice on how to run a board meeting. I will add that if you have the right board, the meeting should focus as much as possible on sharing with the board the key challenges in the business and soliciting their input and advice. I've seen too many times where everyone is trying to put their best foot forward, but a smart board can read right through that. Honesty and humility go a long way, and usually turn into some great, implementable advice that will make a real difference in the business!

    Ken K.

    • http://startupcfo.ca Mark MacLeod

      Completely agree with you Ken. Thanks!