Optimize Your Board’s Meeting Agenda

Study suggests three ways to make board meetings more effective.

December 1, 2010

Credit union boards must spend more time on strategy and risk management—and less time on operational matters and routine items, according to “Tracking the Relationship Between Credit Union Governance and Performance,” a new study published by the Filene Research Institute.

Unfortunately, boards only seem to have a vague idea of how they spend their meeting time. How can boards realign their agendas to maximize meeting effectiveness? Filene’s study offers three suggestions:

            1. Ensure all directors consent to the agenda outside of the board meeting. This gives board members the opportunity to provide feedback, and ultimately achieves alignment between meeting agendas and the board’s expectations.

Subscribe to Credit Union Magazine            2. Schedule all forward-looking (strategic) agenda items at the beginning of board meetings. Allotting more time for strategic discussions at board meetings is often not sufficient. In many cases, strategy is left until the end of the meeting, after all the “routine” agenda items have been covered, leaving insufficient time for full strategic discourse. Moving these discussions to the beginning helps prevent this outcome.

            3. Record and track actual time spent on each board agenda item. Measuring the time spent on each agenda item helps boards plan and adjust for future meetings. Directors interviewed struggled to identify how much time was spent on different tasks, making it difficult to propose and measure adjustments. A record of the actual—rather than the perceived—allocation of time can be used as a benchmark for upcoming agendas.