Board Meeting Rules

Following are some board meeting rules that were recently presented to me and my fellow board members by a CEO at one of his first board meetings at a newly funded early stage company.  I thought they were brilliant.  Feel free to pass them out at your next board meeting.

Be supportive of the company: Tell us the things we do right and things we do wrong.  We are figuring this out as we go.  “No comment” is hard to interpret and our imaginations will run wild.

Be responsive to communications: Please ACK emails.  If you can’t respond when you read, set expectations when you can.  At least say “ack.” I’m generally on email all the time and it’s a real-time communications tool for me.

Be transparent: We have personal relationships around the table.  Management should not use board members as “agents.”  I don’t want any politics on the board – if I did I would still be going to board meetings from my last company.

Be specific and descriptive: I sit on a board also.  I know the temptation to speak in strategic generalities.  Please include concrete examples that smaller minds can digest.  I give extra credit for using more words.

Look for opportunities: You generally cast a much larger net than we do.

Look for early revenue opportunities: Making money will never go out of style.  Generally everything is easier with revenue.

Look for partnerships (Panda Mating): Early stage companies need help with partnerships largely because we don’t have any of particular value yet (like people, brand, data, and money.)

Look for dead-ends: No one wants to hit the wall at 120mph.  You’re more experienced so you should see the wall coming before we do.  Don’t grab the wheel – just tell us to look down the road.

  • http://www.sequelventures.blogspot.com krish

    Makes the most sense. Excellent. Put it straight up for all arm-chair strategists too see.

  • Karen Finn

    Hi Brad,

    This post is has more implications for me than just as a list of rules for board meetings. It looks to me like a list a student might give a teacher when asking for guidance. The basic theme, as I see it, is you, the board members, know a whole lot more than I do and I need you to help me to understand your knowledge/experience and to open doors for me.

    This post also made me think of the article “Deep Smarts” by Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap in the Sept 2004 HBR which presents some ideas on how experts can help inexperienced people develop expertise.

    Cheers,
    Karen

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  • lyn

    can a members vote on an item be reversed for any reason after the meeting and by what proceedure

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

      I'm not sure exactly what you are asking.

      • lyn

        i rec'g an answer brad thanks