Things That Need to be Dealt With

splats-stilesLatin is a precise and economical language. For “things that need to be dealt with”, a Roman would say “agenda”.

This Stile (vertical support, remember) examines the Agenda – this important tool of a Chair in leading the business of a board meeting.

A regular and formal board meeting is a crucial part of good governance – a forum where directors add value as a group, evaluating risk, monitoring performance, sharing insights, debating and adopting strategy, and providing constructive support to management. It is where the board ensures the discharge of its responsibilities.

A well-constructed and sequenced agenda enables the Chair to run the meetings for best effectiveness and efficiency. You might find my checklist useful: –


  • Procedural Must Haves
    • Quorum
    • Declarations of Interests
    • Minutes
    • Matters Arising
    • Work in Progress and Holdovers
    • Next Meeting
  • Opportunity, Markets & Strategy
  • Substantive Must Haves
    • Important and Urgent Items / Red Flags
    • CE Operational Report (may report against CE’s KPIs)
    • Financial Report / Cash Adequacy
    • Strategy Implementation
    • Health and Safety
    • Stakeholders
    • Risk Register
    • Director-only time
  • Committees
    • Audit and Risk
    • HR
  • Projects and Workshops
  • Worthwhile Options
    • Regular presentations by functional managers
    • Removal of “General Business” item

Timing and Sequencing:

  • The Chair should carefully allocate time to each agenda item so that “things are dealt with” thoughtfully and with adequate debate.
  • Unless Red Flags cannot be delayed, prioritizing Opportunity, Markets and Strategy focuses the board on business sustainability, growth and the longer horizon. This is where the board should add significant value.

Board Work Plan:

  • Boards are expensive; directors are busy and valuable. An annual work plan enables effective use of directors’ time so that the board accomplishes what it should.
  • A planned year ensures the workload is spread and periodic tasks are covered (such as succession planning, director development, board charter, capital structuring, shareholder engagement).

Preparation of Agenda:

  • Plan in conjunction with the CE
  • Set out in broad themes and sub-headings for clarity
  • Highlight the Actions / Decisions / Resolutions needed
  • Send out with Board Pack (sequenced as Agenda) in plenty of time for study and reflection
  • With a big Board Pack, repeat Agenda on last page foldout

Directors find a well-organized, well-chaired meeting pleasurable and productive. A Chair owes it to a hard-working board to provide such a meeting.

Here ends another Stile!