Strategic Board Checklist

To operate at the speed of today’s business environment, boards must strategically and constantly keep an eye on the big picture. But since the big picture keeps changing, they must cultivate an ability to be aware of future trends and how these trends may affect their business. One of the most frequently asked questions by CEOs  of nonprofit organizations today is, “What can I do to get my Board to be more strategic? 

For the board to govern and function strategically rather than rely on a plan, board members must become strategically aware and open to change. This is not about just managing or coping with change, but leveraging the rapid change all around them so that they can generate new and different possibilities for the organization.  Great prospects and new possibilities in business always come from changes that are taking place right here and right now. If board members are blinded by the norms of conventional practice, they won’t see the changes until it’s too late. 

Ten signs of a Strategic Board

The following are key strategies for cultivating a strategic board:

1. Simultaneous focus on strategic behaviour as well as on financial outcomes.

2. Engages early in the strategy process

3. Embeds ‘strategic conversations’ into the Board agenda at every meeting.

4. Has systems in place to provide appropriate intelligence to the Board in order to make a meaningful contribution to strategic review.

5. Recognise strategic capabilities in Board and CEO selection and develops strategic thinking skills of Board and CEO.

6. Encourages informal dialogue between Directors and between Directors and management.

7. Involves all Board members in strategy setting.

8. Holds regular strategy workshops – outside the normal Board meeting calendar – involving the Board and management.

9. Has a 3 year strategic planning timeframe.

10. Fosters a culture where - Board, management and stakeholders are joint participants in the strategy process - Board can ask incisive questions without being seen as a threat to