Focus the Meeting Agenda & Board Packet on the Important
By Tim Harrington, CPA RET
At TEAM Resources, we believe the board packet and monthly board meeting agenda should be built around the credit union’s Purpose (Mission) and Key Strategies. This is board level stuff. As we look at the information generally provided to a board in the packet, most directors cannot easily discern what is important, such as what is supporting the Purpose and Key Strategies. Board packets generally contain a lot of information and detail that is operational in nature. The format of information presented to the board can make their job easier or harder. Out of not knowing exactly what the board really wants from the CEO and the executive team, the CEO will usually give them a “shotgun approach.” That is very common for CEOs to do in the absence of board guidance.
Start everything with a reminder of “Why We Are Here”: The Mission (Purpose) and Key Strategic Drivers.
From the TEAM Resources approach, the general requirement for the board packet and meeting agenda are as follows:
1. Present your Mission and Key Strategic Drivers (KSDs) at the top of your board Agenda right under the word “Agenda.”
Don’t skip this step, it’s important for the meeting foundation.
2. Create an Instrument Panel of the Key Strategic Measures.
This will help keep the board (and your management team) discussing the big picture.
3. Limit reports to what is essential and what aligns with Purpose and Strategy:
- CEO report
- Financial Report
- Strategic Report
- Executive Staff reports
4. The Executive Staff Reports should align with Purpose and Strategy.
- Start every staff report with a direct indication of how this report aligns and supports the Purpose and Key Strategic Drivers (KSDs). This compels the Executive Staff to recall what their big picture purpose is. It also guides the directors reading the report as to why this information is being shared with them.
- Reduce executive staff reports to those things that tie to the Purpose, KSDs, a standard industry ratio, or those that regulation requires.
- Keep the reports as a “brief” or a “summary” unless a high level of detail is required.
- The CFO can do an in-depth financial analysis semi-annually (or at most quarterly). Otherwise the report is a brief or summary that aligns with strategy.
5. Deep Dives:
There is information that is helpful for the board to get a more comprehensive view of, but only periodically. These “Deep Dives” might take place the 1st and 2nd month of each quarter for example. They require a little extra meeting time as you go into depth. We would recommend scheduling a deep dive for the following items.
- Asset Liability Management (ALM)
- Branch activity
- Commercial lending
- Allowance for Loan Losses (ALL)
- Enterprise Risk Management
- Others as determined by the board
6. Remove from the board packet any info that does not tie to the Purpose and KSDs unless it is:
- required by regulation;
- a pressing urgent need;
- something that is out of the ordinary and important;
- something that is at variance with what was planned;
- a policy update; or
- is just needed due to common sense.
By using these ideas, the board will see and stay on the big picture. The more purely operations information the staff gives, the more directors feel the need to review and question it. By giving reports on the Purpose and Strategy, it helps the board stay on a level where they are really helpful to the organization.