Making the Most of 24 Hours

Directors unanimously agree, the pre-board package is bigger than ever before:  There’s more  reading. The detail is more dense. And, the issue of risk permeates every subject.  Is it any wonder that both the length and number of board meetings has increased for many boards?

What were once all day meetings three or four times a year–or 24 hours– have now expanded.  There are more meetings, more telephonic meetings, and many more formerly unheard of one-on-one inter-meeting calls with individual directors.

Andrea Jung, the Chairman and CEO of Avon is also a director at IBM and co-lead director at Apple.  She credits her director work in helping her to be a better CEO.  One informs the other as she can look at issues from both director and CEO vantage points.  “The hours and effort spent in board work has increased more than tenfold,” she said on a recent Agenda panel.  “It’s not a comparison to ten years ago but two years ago.”

She calls the interaction with her board “constant” and “very critical.”

With directors giving so much of their time, have the agenda and board books been revised appropriately?  Is the pre-meeting information presented in a way that sets up the discussion for decision? Is the agenda managed so that directors do not feel thay “run out of time” to discuss the really important issues?