There are numerous empirical studies and tons of anecdotal evidence from board evaluations showing that directors feel they spend too much time on routine and operational matters and not enough time on key areas like strategy and talent. I agree completely!


If you are a fan of Dr. Stephen Covey, here's how one of my favourite lessons applies to the boardroom.




A Proposition for You - Value Proposition, That Is

My favourite and most often used lesson from Stephen Covey is from the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Yup, one of his much earlier works.


He talks about prioritizing work by using a matrix for urgency and importance, like the one below.


Areas 3 and 4 both tend to be filled with busy work that is often a priority for others, but not really for you, so I'll leave those two alone and move on to the good stuff.


Area 1 holds those Urgent and Important things that we have to get done sooner rather than later. For management teams a lot of this is the day to day business and operations. For many boards, this is where they feel like they spend too much time.


Area 2 holds the Important and Not Urgent items. Those Things That Add Value Over Time and Ensure Long Term Success. These are the areas that management often has limited time to focus on in a truly tactical way. (Don't get me wrong, management spends a lot of time in these areas, but often it is in a "Day to day, gotta keep the place running and meet our commitments." kind of way instead of a "How are we set up for the most successful future?" kind of way.)


Important and Not Urgent work (with a long term perspective) - like strategy and succession - is where that highly talented, experienced and wise advisory team - your board, can add the most value. Find ways to use their time to its best advantage.




An ideal to strive for is to set aside some time every week to do some Important and Not Urgent (Area 2) work from your own desk - even if it is just for an hour or two.


And... When planning for your next board meeting, see how much of their time is spent in Area 1 (operations and routine matters) and consider how they could get to more of the truly important, but not urgent, work themselves. Maybe that is through adding an in camera (private) session at each meeting, or moving the routine items to the end of the agenda, instead of trying to get them out of the way at the beginning.


Shifting the board's focus over time will Add Value to Every Seat at the Boardroom Table and Get the Corporate Secretary Home in Time for Dinner.


Send me an email at Sylvia@GovernanceStudio.ca if you have a question about a governance practice or a corporate secretarial procedure.

I will reply to you privately. With your permission, I will share the question and answer (but not your name or organization) in an upcoming newsletter.


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Shout Outs

Special thanks this week to Saqib Tariq at Minuteman Press Beltline for helping me through the maze of decisions for the new Governance Studio print materials!

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