Creating a Culture of Openness and Transparency at Board Meetings

Board meetings are an excellent opportunity to increase the energy level of all participants and generate innovative insights from members with diverse backgrounds. However, keeping up the momentum takes more than simply getting everyone in the same room.

Board members must believe that they can trust each other enough to be candid and to ask difficult questions. This can only happen by having an atmosphere of transparency and openness. This is why it’s important to create a board culture which recognizes the importance of board meetings and tries to make them as productive as is possible.

The agenda of the board must be clear to directors what they must do in order to achieve their goals. The agenda should be flexible enough to accommodate any unexpected events or the need to change the order of items. The board should also be given a chance to discuss new business items.

When it comes time to discuss new business, a good board chair will not present reports, instead focusing on facilitating discussion among the whole group. This will not only help save time but it will help to create a positive and welcoming environment in which the board can pose difficult questions to management.

Another way to stimulate discussion is to include a parking lot on the agenda, which will allow for small, random issues to be discussed but it will not distract from more important issues to be addressed. Being distracted by irrelevant discussions can consume the time at meetings and prevent board members from taking actions.