Start Up Stories

Do You Really Have Time For Us?

Posted in Uncategorized by Devon on March 8, 2009

Boards are really important – though some people will tell you otherwise. Board members ought to bring applicable knowledge and experience to meetings; they should not rubber-stamp the CEO’s recommendations but rather, ought to put every member of the executive staff’s thinking through the highest level of scrutiny. If board meetings are comfortable and agreeable, you’ve got the wrong people on your board. If meetings are difficult, challenging, cause you to rethink your strategy, and leave you mentally and emotionally exhausted – congrats! You’ve selected the right people to attend the meeting.

Now, here’s the cautionary note, board members need at least three things to help the company: competence, time, and interest. Competence refers to each member’s ability to bring world-class thinking to the conversation in their respective field. Time means that the board member is able to manage their commitments and time so that they can prepare for and participate in meetings. Interest means that members have a financial interest in seeing the company succeed. The most challenging of these attributes to manage is time because highly sought after directors are always in high demand.

Lessons Learned and Questions to Ask
Not all directors will show-up to meetings that they thought they could make. If you’ve, appropriately, given them an equity interest in the firm, this will force you into a series of difficult conversations.

Ask potential directors about their commitments beyond their proposed role on your board. Then consider asking how many meetings they have missed with previous board service (e.g. 1/3, 1/2). If they’ve missed a lot of meetings, think long and hard about whether they will, in fact, be able to contribute to your board.


One Response

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  1. Richard said, on April 8, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Devon: you made a great job of selecting the necessary competance & agressiveness mix with Extraction Systems board – so you really have the capabilities to select a good board for your new firm!

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