Working with your Board

I recently saw an interesting lunchtime keynote at the Gartner Symposium in Orlando.   Kenneth Daly of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) spoke on such things as what is important to your board and how to help your board.  NACD is an interesting organization that certainly has some valuable material and  even though the focus may be on corporate America I saw a lot of value for Public Sector Higher Ed.

The top three items that concern boards (I believe this was form a survey) were:

  1. Strategic Planning and Oversight
  2. Corporate Performance
  3. Risk Oversight

There was some discussion around the relationship/overlap between 1 and 3, but I do think these are the relevant points.   I ponder how we measure Corporate Performance in Higher Education.  More so whether we have the proper metrics in place, rather than what success is.

The piece I found most interesting in his talk was around the question:  “How can I help the board?”.  Remember that this talk was given to a roomful of CIO’s and VP of Technology.   Probably most are private sector, but there was a big public sector presence.   The following  are also my interpretation of what was said – there were no slides.

  1. Really understand their challenges – these aren’t your challenges, they are the board specific challenges.
  2. Meet with the committee chairs about what they want and need.  Include the CFO in that discussion.   If you do a better job supporting them they do a better job.
  3. Oversight of risk is a team sport.   It is not just for the board audit committee.
  4.  Assist in agenda setting.    50-60% of the agenda should be about having a dialogue.    (I really like the part on dialogue here).
  5. Help them understand how to identify and find the anomalies.
  6. Remember that there is asymmetric information.   We have the details and they need to identify where the risks are too high and identify what to do.
  7. Do something about IT.  Sometimes the board struggles to ask the right questions.   Make sure IT has an impact on strategy.

Daly also mentioned that NACD has been working with Gartner on 6-7 modules to educate directors and these should be available in the 2nd Q of 2013.   I look forward to reviewing these as I suspect it will be helpful for the C level executives as well.

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